Courtesy Lex Van den Berghe
Steve Helling
August 07, 2013 11:50 AM

On paper, the brand new Family Beef may sound a lot like a Duck Dynasty clone: Take several generations of a Southern family who own a successful business, then watch them interact.

And should their Southern drawls become too hard to understand, simply add subtitles.

One thing that certainly is already familiar about Family Beef is its star, Tom Buchanan, who reached the final four on Survivor: Africa and the top five of Survivor: All-Stars.

“After doing Survivor, I traveled the world on USO tours,” Buchanan, 58, tells PEOPLE. “Survivor opened my life up, but I never thought I would do another show.”

The new show – which premieres 9 p.m. Wednesday on the National Geographic Channel – follows three generations of Buchanans as they operate a farm-and-cattle ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia.

Dramatic Opening Episode

“We may look, dress, act and talk different, but we’re really the same as anyone else,” says Buchanan. “You get a family from New York City, and they talk to each other the same way that we talk to each other. We really have a lot more in common than people would think.”

The show’s producer is Buchanan’s Survivor costar Lex Van Den Burghe. “At the heart, the Buchanans are good people,” he says. “And I think that shows on the show.”

This series opens dramatically, with Buchanan, his 80-year-old father (“Poppy”) and his son (Bo) rounding up cattle – for castration.

“The things that you find outrageous are just real life on a cattle farm,” explains Buchanan. “This is how people make their living, so maybe it’s educational for people to see it.”

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