Worth Watching: ‘Big Brother’ and Reality All-Star ‘Challenge,’ PBS’ ‘Green Planet,’ Return of ‘Crank Yankers’

Kxly 1920x1080

CBS pairs an all-reality-star edition of The Challenge with a new season of Big Brother. Nature fans can explore The Green Planet as Sir David Attenborough brings the world of plants to life. YA romance blooms in Hulu’s comedic Maggie and Netflix’s Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between. Comedy Central revives its puppet prank-call show Crank Yankers.

Big Brother

Season Premiere8/7c

Summer’s reality TV avalanche kicks into high gear as CBS launches the 24th season of Big Brother to the delight of voyeurs nationwide. (Episodes will air weekly on Thursdays, featuring the live eviction, Sundays and Wednesdays.) The 90-minute Big Brother premiere is followed by another 90-minute opener, when MTV’s The Challenge franchise graduates to network prime time (9:30/8:30c, CBS). BMX personality TJ Lavin hosts The Challenge: USA, boasting a cast of 28 comprised of competitors from past seasons of Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race and Love Island. Among those vying for the $500,000 grand prize: Survivor winners Tyson Apostol, Ben Driebergen and Sarah Lacina, Big Brother winner Xavier Prather (and “America’s Favorite Houseguest” Tiffany Mitchell), The Amazing Race winner James Wallington and Love Island winner Justine Ndiba. The challengers will also be competing for a spot on The Challenge: Global Championship, which will stream exclusively on Paramount+, which is also where you can live-stream these series if that’s your thing. During the Challenge premiere, contestants must rappel down a 22-story building and memorize a math equation to avoid elimination.

The Green Planet

Series Premiere8/7c

Sir David Attenborough has made a career of bringing nature alive on TV, and with this five-part docuseries, he turns his gaze from fauna to flora, with the dramatic and surprisingly expansive stories of plant life. You think animals need to fight for survival? Attenborough travels the terrain from deserts and mountains to rainforests and tundra to reveal through cutting-edge motion-control robotics how plants struggle to find sustenance and light, how they breed, communicate and care for each other. The first episode explores “Tropical Worlds,” rainforests where time operates differently and where trees grow quickly, flowers mimic dead animals and rain and light sustain life.

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between

Movie Premiere

Parting is such sweet sorrow in this YA romance, starring To All the Boys alum (and Dancing with the Stars winner) Jordan Fisher as Aidan, who pledged with high-school sweetheart Clare (Talia Ryder) that they would break up before leaving for college. The time has now come, and during the course of an epic final date, they replay their adolescent love story and consider whether they’re making the right choice. From the producers of Netflix’s popular To All the Boys film series.

Rebecca Rittenhouse as Maggie in Maggie


Series Premiere

On a lighter note, Rebecca Rittenhouse stars in the title role of a 13-episode romcom about Maggie, a young single woman whose dating life is complicated by her gifts as a psychic. Admittedly, it’s awkward when you accidentally glimpse your own happily-ever-after, and it’s not with the Prince Charming you expected. You may not need a crystal ball to see where this is heading.

Married at First Sight Season 15 Nate Stacia

Married at First Sight

Season Premiere8/7c

And then there’s staged made-for-TV real-life romance, as the impulse-driven reality series heads to the West Coast for the first time. The 15th season opens with a three-hour premiere, following 10 San Diego singles as they prep to wed total strangers. When the couples meet at the altar, one emotionally guarded bride breaks down. (Honestly, who could blame her?) Because three hours isn’t enough, a Married at First Sight: Afterparty recap airs at 11/10c, hosted by Keshia Knight Pulliam.

Crank Yankers

Series Premiere8/7c

There’s drunk dialing, and then there’s crank yanking. The irreverent Emmy-nominated puppet prank comedy series returns for a seventh season of off-the-wall phone calls with celebrities providing the voices of various Yankerville citizens. In the first two episodes, airing back-to-back, Tiffany Haddish, Desus & Mero, Kathy Griffin and Kyle Dunnigan join co-creators Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla in scenarios involving, among others, a cornhole enthusiast and a Sunday school teacher determined to bring salvation to a bookstore.

Inside Wednesday TV:

  • Mysteries Decoded (8/7c, The CW): The paranormal series pays homage to the Conjuring movies in its Season 2 premiere, when Navy vet-turned-private investigator Jennifer Marshall heads with paranormal researcher Sara Gray to Rhode Island to poke around the haunted house that inspired the hit horror franchise.
  • Wellington Paranormal (9/8c, The CW): Playing scares for laughs, the mock-doc sends officers Minogue (Mike Minogue) and O’Leary (Karen O’Leary) on the search for ghostly rugby fans all wearing the same “Where’s Wally?” outfit.
  • Carpathian Predators (8/7c, Smithsonian Channel): A two-part nature series, set in the rugged European mountains that range from the Czech Republic to Romania, opens in the “Realm of the Bear,” as a mother brown bear fattens up her cubs for the approaching winter. (More brown bears are on display in the Season 2 premiere of PBS’ Expedition with Steve Backshall, airing at 10/9c—check local listings at pbs.org—when the naturalist heads to the remote Kamchatka peninsula.)
  • Guy’s Grocery Games: Guy’s Summer Games (9/8c, Food Network): Eight past Grocery Games winners return for a summer-themed competition. Guy Fieri kicks off the contest by tasking the players to make a signature summer dish with as many ingredients as they can fit in a beach bag. The bottom two face off in a grilled chicken challenge. The ultimate winner gets $25,000.
  • Neighborhood Wars (10/9c, A&E): The show that captures suburbanites being anything but neighborly is joined by Road Wars (10:30/9:30c, A&E), depicting incidents involving road rage. Fasten your seat belts.
  • Girl in the Picture (streaming on Netflix): Today’s true-crime teaser: Who was Sharon Marshall? A puzzle of identity, involving a federal fugitive and the young woman trapped in his web, unfolds when a young mother mysteriously dies and her son is kidnapped.