MTV Unplugged, one of MTV’s strongest franchises from the heyday of music video, will return to the channel later this year. The show famously presented megastar artists performing their hits on acoustic instruments, with few exceptions. The network announced the revival at a television-industry “upfront” presentation on Thursday.
A press release from the network stated that “the revitalized Unplugged will restore key elements that made the franchise so groundbreaking in the first place, while resetting the show in the multi-platform video world of today,” according to Deadline. It did not expound upon how it would program the show with regard to artists and music genres.
Beginning in 1989, the series presented performances by Squeeze, Aerosmith, Elton John, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others. Several artists, including Nirvana, Eric Clapton, Jay Z, Alanis Morrisette, Alice in Chains and 10,000 Maniacs, among many others, released album versions of their Unplugged episodes. Broadcasts of the show began to fizzle out in the early 2000s, though the show came back occasionally and lived on in various forms with online-only episodes and on sister channels.
The network, which all but expunged music from its programming in the mid-2000s, also announced another weekly music series at it upfront. Wonderland promises to “re-imagine” live music programming and MTV said it would present a “smart, comedic take on pop culture at large.” It will feature new music, live performances and young comedians in a performance space named Wonderland in Los Angeles.
“Live performances are the beating heart of every episode and this show will provide a platform for artists to experiment with the unexpected, express their creativity in new ways and deliver one-off performances that will become inked in the public consciousness,” the press materials claimed.
Other series the network presented include a Zac Efron documentary, a new music competition series by Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice), a program that shows stand-up comics’ routines acted out and a show about a dance master class, among others.