NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTS ‘YELLOWSTONE LIVE’
From the time of Ed Sullivan, Sunday nights have been the home of the “really big show.” Series don’t come bigger or more ambitious than “Yellowstone Live” (8 p.m., National Geographic). A crew of 200 professionals and 34 camera teams will document life in Yellowstone National Park over four nights. And the broadcast will unfold live.
In many ways, this is a combination of those static popular nature cams that focus on a single bird’s nest for months at a time with an ambitious television event, a production rivaling “The Amazing Race,” or sports and Olympics coverage.
While some may say that this is a National Geographic take on reality television, that would not be completely accurate. From the time of “The Real World” on, reality television has depended almost entirely on the editing process to goose drama and controversy from hundreds of hours of tedious footage. While unscripted, reality television relies heavily on post-production to create the illusion of dramatic narrative. “Yellowstone Live” depends on nature itself to provide the fireworks.
Featured “performers” and expected guest stars include migrating elk, stealth wolf packs and 600-pound grizzlies. In addition to wide-screen coverage of the gorgeous flora and fauna, a “Magma Cam” will report on the park’s geothermal activity. Aerial drones and cameras will track action in remote areas and a camera will be “embedded” inside a beaver lodge.
While the impressive logistics behind “Yellowstone Live” suggest comparisons to sports coverage, some viewers may recall a time when millions around the globe glued themselves to ongoing reports of space launches and manned trips into Earth’s orbit and to the moon itself. In some ways, “Yellowstone” represents a voyage to a very exotic planet -- our own.
-- ABC offers viewers a chance to revisit “The Good Doctor” (7 p.m. Saturday, r, TV-14) before it returns for a second season on Sept. 24.
For those unfamiliar with the show, “Good” is based on a South Korean series. It stars Freddie Highmore as Shaun Murphy, a savant on the autism spectrum who becomes a surgical resident at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.
Much is made about the risks of hiring someone with his social skills, but not only does he prove particularly insightful as a doctor-in-training, he also inspires his workaholic colleagues to look at their lives and their actions from a fresh perspective.
Unabashedly feel-good, the series was a ratings standout. Like NBC’s “This Is Us” the year before, this medical series became appointment TV for many viewers and a rare phenomenon for network television, a popular stand-alone drama that wasn’t a spin-off, a part of a franchise or a reality spectacle.
Given its status, I’m surprised ABC hasn’t made it more available for viewers. Some decades back, CBS turned a modest hit called “NCIS” into a ratings blockbuster by airing it repeatedly during the summer. Too often, networks use the summer -- and Saturdays in particular -- to “burn off” series that have failed rather than promote what few hits they have.
-- “Cold Justice” (5 p.m. Saturday, Oxygen, TV-14) returns for a fifth season. Created by Dick Wolf, this unscripted series features former prosecutor Kelly Siegler, whose team of investigators revisits cold cases with the cooperation of local agencies.
Originally developed for, and canceled by, TNT, “Cold” moved to Oxygen in 2017. Hardly the first nonfiction series to examine such cases, “Cold” was notable for its association with Wolf, whose “Law & Order” empire has churned out many scripted hours of television and kept many actors employed.
-- The fourth installment of the epic documentary series “Planet Earth: South Pacific” (8 p.m. Saturday, BBC America, TV-G) explores island volcanoes, underwater eruptions and the millions of years of geologic activity that shaped the vast ocean.
-- Past players are honored at the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony (6 p.m., ESPN).
-- A financial planner bankrolls her posh lifestyle with her clients’ retirement funds on “Pink Collar Crimes” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
-- A well-adjusted woman’s life unravels due to her long-lost sibling’s hateful jealousy in the 2018 shocker “Killer Twin” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).
-- Updates of previously aired reports scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS) include: military attacks on Syrian hospitals; San Francisco’s leaning tower; a profile of Jennifer Lawrence.
-- Popular music stars perform at the “iHeartCountry Festival” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
-- Ghost faces a spiritual awakening; Truth endures IRS scrutiny on “Power” (7 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
-- Brutal fighting on Okinawa offers a glimpse at the hellish prospect of invading Imperial Japan on “The Pacific War in Color” (7 p.m., Smithsonian).
-- “The 2000s” (8 p.m., CNN, TV-PG) recalls the financial calamity of 2008.
-- The family gathers and reflects on the third season premiere of “Chesapeake Shores” (8 p.m., Hallmark, TV-PG).
-- “The Walking Dead” (8 p.m., AMC) anticipates its ninth season.
-- Adora hosts an annual festival on “Sharp Objects” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).
-- Cole faces some harsh truths on “The Affair” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
-- “The History of Comedy” (9 p.m., CNN) explores the deep emotional connection between comics and their audience.
-- Wozniak assembles a counterintelligence team on “Shades of Blue” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
-- Rumors of a hostile bid rattle the family on the season finale of “Succession” (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA), the umpteenth series about unsympathetic characters we’re supposed to follow because they’re rich.
A chatty socialite (Katharine Hepburn) rattles a sheltered paleontologist (Cary Grant) in the 1938 screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby” (7 p.m. Sunday, TCM), directed by Howard Hawks.
Tykes compete on “Little Big Shots” (7 p.m., NBC, r, TV-G) ... “Premier Boxing Champions” (6:30 p.m., Fox) ... Two episodes of “48 Hours” (8 p.m., CBS) ... A two-hour “Dateline” (8 p.m., NBC) ... Stories of survival on “20/20: In an Instant” (8 p.m., ABC).
Julie Chen hosts “Big Brother” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Martina McBride guest-judges on “America’s Got Talent” (7 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) ... Regular families aren’t famous enough for “Celebrity Family Feud” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
A lonely Thanksgiving on “Bull” (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... Celebrities climb “The $100,000 Pyramid” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14) ... An officer’s murder may be linked to foreign intrigue on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... Celebrities play “To Tell the Truth” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).