Three years after A&E pulled the plug on Intervention, the long-running docseries from GRB Entertainment is returning to the cable network this week.
The A+E Networks-owned channel pulled the plug on the controversial show amid surging ratings for comedic series Duck Dynasty, which had prompted a shift toward lighter reality fare.
Meanwhile, reruns of the series, which chronicles families as they attempt to convince a loved one battling addiction to enter rehab, were doing so well on sister net LMN (Lifetime Movie Network) that the channel took advantage of A&E’s cancellation and ordered new episodes.
“In that time, A&E started seeing how their audience was shifting and some of the new programming they were trying to build around Duck Dynasty wasn’t resonating,” GRB president Gary R. Benz told realscreen.
Since then, times have changed again. True crime and feature doc-style series have grown in popularity on TV and streaming platforms, and A&E’s strategy has swung from Duck Dynasty – which is entering its final season next year – back to grittier shows such as 60 Days In.
GRB has now produced around 230 episodes of Interventionover the show’s 11 years. The new season begins on Nov. 29 with an episode about Katie, a 36-year-old former real estate agent who spends more than a US$1,000 per week on a variety of drugs, including heroin.
“From a format stand-point, it’s true to form,” said Benz. “We’ve tried to upgrade it. We’ve added some music elements and licensed some very cool tracks from well-known [artists] that come in at the end of the show. We’ve made little graphic changes.”
Critics have called Intervention exploitative, but Benz maintains that his production team does not sacrifice participants’ well-being for the sake of the show.
“They are at death’s doorstep,” he said. “We worked very hard to tend to these people’s lives as well as make a TV show. After a season or two, I talked to my executive in charge of production and asked what we could do to help support the crew, and one of the things they asked for was counselling for them. It’s such a heavy burden to do a show like this and immerse themselves in these people’s lives.”
Intervention airs on Nov. 29 across A&E at 8 p.m. ET/PT.