(This has been updated.)
Ready or not, TV viewers are entering an autumn of relentless reality.
In past seasons, the big broadcast networks tossed in occasional reality shows. They were big ones – “The Voice,” “The Bachelor,” “Survivor” – adding variety to a sea of dramas and comedies.
But this season, amid the writers’ and actors’ strikes, it’s almost non-stop reality,
CBS is launching three new games (including “Buddy Games,” shown here) and giving two classics (“Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”) an extra half-hour apiece …. Fox will be non-stop reality, from Mondays through Thursdays .… ABC has retrieved “Dancing With the Stars” from Disney+ and will even have generations of romance – an hour of a 71-year-old “Golden Bachelor,” followed by two hours of frisky folks in bikinis and such.
The other big broadcasters are avoiding the overload. NBC started filming several scripted shows in advance, CW is importing some shows from other countries, PBS has its usual blend of British dramas on Sundays and American non-fiction the rest of the week.
But mostly, it’s all-reality – more than 20 shows on the broadcast networks, plus the usual deluge on cable. Here’s the broadcast list, chronological in each category:
— “Buddy Games.” Each summer, Josh Duhamel exits his movie-star/TV-star life for a vacation playing weird games with his Montana friends. Now that’s a game show he produces and hosts. In the first hour, teams — from cops to LGBTQ, from Roller Derby women to beauty queens – get messy, muddy and sometimes naked. It’s sort of fun. CBS, 9 p.m. Thursdays, starting Sept. 14.
— “Snake Oil.” Imagine “Shark Tank” with a perverse twist. Contestants hear fanciful ideas. Some products are real, others are fakes; David Spade hosts. Fox, 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 27.
— “The Golden Bachelor.” After decades of young love, the spotlight turns to a 71-year-old widower and grandfather, living at an Indiana lake. He’ll meet 22 women, from 60 to 75, including five educators, a wedding officiant and a “pro-aging coach.” ABC, 8 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 28.
— “Loteria Loca.” In Mexico, Jaime Camil says, most families have a home game of loteria, which is sort of like bingo. Now Camil produces and hosts a TV version. CBS, 9 p.m. Mondays, Oct. 2.
— “Raid the Cage.” Two important skills – answering trivia and grabbing cash – combine. Damon Wayans Jr. and Jeannie Mai Jenkins host. CBS, 9 p.m. Fridays, Oct. 13).
RETURNING SERIES – THE KEY ONES
— “The Voice.” Blake Shelton is gone, but his wife (Gwen Stefani) is there. She’s joined by Reba McEntire, John Legend and Neil Horan. NBC, 8-10 p.m. Mondays, 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 25 and 26.
— “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” As usual, Fox leans heavily on food and Gordon Ramsay. Fox, 8 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, Sept. 25 and 28.
— “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” Two of the first reality shows – going back to 2000 and 2001 – share a night, each expanded to 90 minutes. CBS, 8 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 27.
— “The Masked Singer.” After a way-in-advance opener (following football on Sept. 10), this settles into its regular spot. Special episodes will focus on Elton John, Harry Potter and Trolls. Fox, 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 27.
— “Bachelor in Paradise.” This is usually an end-of-summer trifle, with lots of eager folks who look good in swimwear. Now it moves into the fall. ABC, 9-11 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 28.
— And “Dancing With the Stars” is back on ABC, after a one-year absence, with details pending. Last year, it jumped to Disney+; this time (expected to be Mondays), it’s on both networks. Alfonso Ribeiro returns as host, now joined by Julianne Hough … whose brother Derek is one of the panelists.
RETURNING SERIES – THE REST
— “Celebrity Name That Tune” and “I Can See Your Voice.” Music-oriented games go back-to-back. Fox, 8 and 9 p.m., Sept. 19.
— “Special Force: World’s Toughest Test.” Facing the brutal tasks are varied folks, from athletes (Bode Miller, Robert Horry) to reality stars (Jack Osbourne, Savannah Chrisley). Fox, 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 25.
— “Celebrity Jeopardy,” “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” “$100,000 Pyramid.” With Sundays becoming a Disney-movie night, the game-show block gets a new night. ABC, 8-11 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 27.
— “LegoMasters.” Will Arnett meets people who do amazing things with little chunks of plastic. Fox, 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28.
— “The Wall.” Chris Hardwick hosts. NBC, 8 p.m. Fridays, Nov. 3.
— CBS started two summer shows late, so they can edge into the fall. “The Challenge: USA” (10 p.m. Thursdays) concludes Sept. 28. “Big Brother” continues until Nov. 9, with new timeslots. The Thursday shows move to 8 p.m., starting Sept. 14. The Sunday ones move to 10 p.m. or later, starting Sept. 17. The Wednesday ones move to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, starting Oct. 3.
— CW is currently rerunning an “FBoy Island” season that previously streamed on Max. That’s 9 p.m. Thursdays, but a new season will be 8 p.m. Mondays, starting with two episodes Oct. 16