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From Mad Men to March Madness, a Look at Next Month’s Hot Cable Shows

Days are getting longer, the air is getting warmer and the programming on cable is definitely getting hotter. There’s a proverbial boatload of familiar hits coming back to your TVs—and your customers’ TVs—in March, along with some intriguing new shows and an annual dash of “Madness.”
While March almost always brings hints of spring, Discovery is actually keeping things chilly next month with the debut of the new seven-part documentary Frozen Planet. From the team that brought us the stunning Planet Earth, Frozen Planet takes a one-of-a-kind look at Earth’s polar regions to show what few people get to see: the wonders of nature in some of the most remote regions of the planet, both above and below the ice. The series debuts March 18 at 8 p.m. (all times Eastern).
In keeping with the icy theme, Weather Channel debuts the new documentary series Ice Pilots next month, following aviators who fly vintage planes to bring people, supplies and fuel to the furthest reaches of Canada. The action takes off March 5 at 9 p.m.
It’s also often cold in South Park, but the venerable Comedy Central series remains one of cable’s hottest shows among young adults. On March 14 at 10 p.m., Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny turn 16…or at least their show does. The celebration leading up to the new season actually begins on March 9 at 9 p.m. with the South Park Super Sweet Sixteen, a collection of 16 fan favorites airing over three nights.
If it’s hard to imagine the South Park kids “turning 16,” then how about the Kids’ Choice Awards reaching the ripe old age of 25? It’s true—the signature Nickelodeon awards show marks that milestone this year, welcoming Will Smith as host. The always-popular show airs March 31 at 8 p.m., and along with the usual array of hot stars, you can expect plenty of green slime along the way. (A quick trivia question: which former Nickelodeon show first introduced the whole “green slime” concept?)
Nickelodeon will also premiere a brand new movie next month, and it’s a “big” one. The guys of Big Time Rush become inadvertent spys who need to save the world in Big Time Movie, debuting March 10 at 8 p.m. Since the action begins in London, it makes sense that in addition to including music from the band’s latest album, the foursome also will be covering some Beatles classics like “Help!,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “We can Work it Out,” and “Revolution.”
Though it might seem more appropriate for an April Fool’s Day premiere, MTV will revive classic prank series Punk’d on March 19 at 10 p.m. In the new version, a different celebrity will be doing the punking each week, taking the place of co-creator/executive producer Ashton Kutcher. Among the stars set to pull outrageous pranks are Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Kellan Lutz and Bam Margera.
No one would dare punk Don Draper (would they?), though some fans might have felt like they were being punked by the long wait for their favorite show’s return. Good news: the critically acclaimed AMC drama Mad Men returns with a two-hour season premiere on March 25 at 9 p.m. (the following week, the show moves to Sundays at 10 p.m.). It’s been a long time since October 2010, when Don proposed to Megan, as Betty and Henry planned to move to Rye, NY.
At A&E, the second season of Breakout Kings premieres on March 4 at 10 p.m., continuing the story of a pair of U.S. Marshalls who team with ex-cons to track down fugitives.
U.S. Marshalls are also at the center of USA’s hit In Plain Sight, though their focus is on keeping members of the witness protection program safe and sound. The series’ final season premieres March 16 at 10 p.m. (following the sophomore-season premiere of Fairly Legal). Last season’s In Plain Sight finale saw Marshall Mary Shannon going into early labor, as her partner, Marshall Marshall Mann (seriously) raced to her side. Will all be ok for new mom Mary? All will be revealed in a few weeks.
ABC Family welcomes back the groundbreaking drama Secret Life of the American Teenager for its fourth season on March 26 at 8 p.m., followed by the third season of Make it or Break It at 9 p.m. Teenager picks up in the wake of a marriage proposal, while Make It follows the gymnastics team as they train for the upcoming Olympic games.
The most popular series in Lifetime’s history, Army Wives, also returns next month. As the drama enters its sixth season on March 4 at 9 p.m., the wives prepare to go their separate ways as Fort Marshall is decommissioned. Army Wives is followed by new episodes of the documentary series Coming Home, showcasing surprise reunions between members of our armed forces and their families and loved ones. Celebrities appearing in the new season include country music star Clint Black, Sesame Street’s Elmo and Rosita and players for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. (A word of advice: keep the tissues handy.)
Fans of the great original comedies on TV Land will be happy to hear that the second season of Fran Drescher’s Happily Divorced will premiere March 7 at 10:30 p.m. Based in part on Drescher’s own life, the series follows the story of a woman (named Fran, naturally) who, thanks to a bad economy, continues to share a house with her ex. Co-stars include Tichina Arnold, Rita Moreno and John Michael Higgins.
With St. Patrick’s Day in March, Hallmark Channel may be hoping for a little luck of the Irish with its new original movie, Chasing Leprechauns. Premiering on March 17 at 8 p.m., a man travels to a small Irish town to try to “seal the deal” for a construction site—but there’s a catch. The site is supposedly home to leprechauns. OK, there are two catches—he ends up falling in love with the town’s “pixie expert,” whose approval is needed to acquire the land, and who has no intention of letting anything be built there. Adrian Pasdar and Amy Huberman star.
Bravo has a new reality series premiering next month, as Shahs of Sunset debuts March 11 at 10 p.m. The show follows a group of Persian-American friends in the Los Angeles area as they balance jobs, social lives and romance.
In a very different vein, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN presents the national television premiere of a powerful documentary, Family Affair, on March 1 at 8 p.m. The two-hour film chronicles several years in the life of filmmaker Chico Colvard’s own family, a story that was is set in motion many years ago when the then-10-year-old Colvard accidentally shoots his sister in the leg. Years later, he talks with relatives and examines the chain of events that stemmed from that accident.
We couldn’t close a discussion about TV in March without a reminder that million upon millions of college hoops fans will be glued to their TVs for March Madness, making it the ideal place to connect with engaged viewers. It all tips off March 13 on truTV with coverage of the “First Four” matchups. As the action moves to the second and subsequent rounds on the road to the Final Four in New Orleans, truTV, TBS and TNT will air coverage along with CBS, ensuring every game is aired on live TV.
We’ll be back next month for another look at what’s coming up on cable in April—including the return of baseball action and much, much more. Until then, if you have any questions or comments about cable programming, please feel free to use the comments section below, or Tweet us @ComcstSpotlight.