In recent months, cable powerhouse TLC has grabbed big ratings with respectable shows such as Sarah Palin's Alaska and the utterly fascinating Sister Wives. But it's worth remembering the reason we first fell in love with the network: Freaks! Little People! Infants in danger! Thankfully, the programmers at TLC haven't forgotten their roots: Vulture can exclusively report that over the next five weeks, TLC will be unveiling a slew of specials and pilots dripping with WTF awesomeness. Three words: Babies Behind Bars.
Yup, TLC's late-winter parade of provocative programming will kick off February 24 at 10 p.m. with the first of two specials revolving around the world's smallest inmates. No, the Babies Behind Bars have not been convicted of any major crimes (unless you consider cuteness a felony!). Instead, these specials (another airs March 3) look at the so-called "baby dorm" at Indiana Women's Prison, where locked-up women get the chance to live near their babies as they do their time. We're hoping for a cameo appearance by of the E-Trade babies, but TLC tells us that's unlikely. Other specials in the hopper at the network:
Taxidermy USA: We've got shows about pawnbrokers, tattoo artists, and mall cops. Why not an hour devoted to families who stuff dead animals — including housecats? It's like Six Feet Under, but without the navel-gazing. (March 10.)
Ultimate Cleaners: It sounds like a show about a laundromat, but it's actually the tale of the Douglas family, who make their living sanitizing filthy places: crime scenes, crack houses, sewage spills, Charlie Sheen parties. (March 20.)
Heavily Ever After: It's like TLC's Little Couple, but with supersized lovers Freddie and Kay. Bonus: Freddie apparently likes to sing. (March 6.)
Tiniest Tween: Kenadie's Story: TLC checks in again on primordial dwarf Kenadie, who's now 7 years old, weighs just seventeen pounds — and is facing early puberty. We are not making that up. (March 8.)
While TLC is officially describing these specials as one-time-only events, recent history would suggest there's a good chance one or more of them could end up as regular series if ratings are good enough. That's what happened with Extreme Couponing and Pawn Queens, which aired last year as specials and are now set to return this spring as weekly shows. We've got our fingers crossed for Taxidermy USA: Imagine the crossover episode where Sarah Palin comes in to get a moose stuffed!