Nat Geo announces 2020-2021 schedule: Bobby Bones, Cesar Milan, Gordon Ramsay and ‘Genius: Aretha’ at last?

On Thursday, May 21, National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild announced their slate of new and returning programs for the 2020-2021 TV season. So what offerings can we expect from the multimedia platform?

For starters we’ll finally get to see “Genius: Aretha,” although no official date his been announced. The third season of the anthology series, which previously explored the lives and careers of scientist Albert Einstein and painter Pablo Picasso, stars Emmy, Tony and Grammy winner Cynthia Erivo as legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin. It was originally supposed to premiere this spring but was pushed forward due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nat Geo now plans for it to drop this fall.

The cable net is also teaming with “American Idol” mentor and “Dancing with the Stars” champ Bobby Bones for a 16-part series tentatively titled “Breaking Bobby Bones” in which he travels across the country to meet people with unique jobs, hobbies and abilities. And the makers of “The Amazing Race” are embarking on another trek around the globe with “Race to the Center of the Earth,” which is a non-elimination competition series in which teams will travel the planet in the hopes of winning a $1 million grand prize.

Also on tap are the documentary series “9/11,” a re-imagined version of “Explorer,” the docuseries “Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller,” the four-part “Planet of the Whales” nature series for Earth Day 2021 and several feature documentaries including “Blood on the Wall,” “Rebuilding Paradise,”  “Saudi Runway” and “Torn.” Returning series include “Brain Games with Keegan-Michael Key,” “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted,” “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” “Wicked Tuna” and several iterations of the hit series “Life Below Zero” about people living in remote areas of Alaska.

National Geographic Global Television Networks President Courteney Monroe said in a statement, “People’s understanding of the world around them has been shaken. And they are coming to National Geographic in record numbers, I believe, because particularly in times of uncertainty, people flock to brands that they trust. And National Geographic is one of the most trusted and beloved brands in the world,” said Monroe. “When it comes to our television programming, we are doubling down on what we do best, which is to deliver premium, creatively ambitious programming that connects audiences to the world around them, satisfies their curiosity and transports them to places they may otherwise never go.”

On the Wild side, Nat Geo will be bringing back former “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Milan for a series titled “Cesar’s Way,” in which he will once again counsel pet owners at a time when dog adoptions are way up but people’s busy lives complicate how they relate to their animals and deal with their behavior. That show is slated for spring 2021.

Milan will be joined by another pooch guru, “Dog: Impossible” with dog behavior specialist Matt Beisner. And the dogs keep coming: “The Puppy Draft” will connect professional athletes with new four-legged friends in spring 2021. Also, the network’s longest running  show, “The Incredible Dr. Pol” will be back for its 18th and 19th seasons following the title veterinarian.

“At a time when families find themselves spending more time together, the need for inspiring programming the entire family can enjoy is ever more pronounced,” says Monroe about the Wild lineup. “Nat Geo Wild has become the leading destination for programming about animals and the people who love them, offering extraordinary and heartwarming stories that entertain, inspire and educate viewers of all ages. It’s no wonder Nat Geo Wild has experienced record ratings during this period.”

In the meantime, Nat Geo is an Emmy contender this year across scripted and nonfiction categories for the work they put out during the 2019-2020 television season. Among the highest-profile of those is “Barkskins,” the limited series about a mysterious massacre in 17th century Canada starring David Thewlis and Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden; it’s based on a novel by Annie Proulx.

“Cosmos: Possible Worlds” could win Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series. It’s the followup to “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” which won four Emmys in 2014 for its journey through natural and scientific history. The Syrian war doc “The Cave” (which earned an Oscar nomination earlier this year) and the nature film “Sea of Shadows” could add to the network’s nonfiction haul as they are both being entered for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. Perhaps one of them will follow in the footsteps of “Free Solo,” which won all seven of its Emmy nominations in 2019.

See who else is on the Emmy ballot for Nat Geo here. What new show are you looking forward to the most over the next 12 months? And will Covid-19 continue to disrupt TV programming in the coming season?

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the nominees are announced on July 28. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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