Monday, August 30, 2010

Survival Shows: Critique and Forecast

(I was going to just tack this onto the Survival Show Critique as an addendum to the existing column rather than starting a new one in order to keep the information all in one place and because the comments weren't really long enough to warrant a whole new blog entry when I started. But once I got started and realized I was going on three pages I decided to make it a new blog entry. If you haven’t read Survival Show Critique I'd suggest you do, for context and clarity before reading this entry.)

I'm falling in love with the Man Woman Wild show. The man/woman, husband/wife camaraderie/friction that's evident throughout the shows is both amusing and enlightening. For example:

Mykel is showing Ruth how to drink from/eat an Amazon plant when she turns to the camera and says: "How can he remember all these plants? If I send him to the grocery store he comes back with the wrong detergent time and time and time again." The 'pained husband' look on his face while she's complaining to the cameraman is priceless. Yeah, guys, we've all been there.

Beyond Survival with Les Stroud
Les Stroud is back with a new version of Survivorman entitled: Beyond Survival with Les Stroud which I find not only less entertaining but less informative than the original shows.

The show's promo says it all:
Les Stroud seeks out the true masters of survival - the last indigenous tribes in the most remote corners of the planet - to learn their techniques, experience their rituals, and share the secrets of how they've survived in the wild for thousands of years - before they vanish forever.

I watched the first episode and frankly turned the sound down about halfway through the show. Watching Les chew, get high on and spit "betel nuts" as he mixed with the local population just wasn't my cup of tea. According to the promos the remaining shows will be the same as Les minimises the survival aspects and concentrates on going native.

Stuntman vs. Wild?
Man vs. Wild (or maybe it should be called Stuntman vs. Wild?) promises some changes this season as Bear Grylls will be taking two fans along for the ride as he hops hundred foot deep chasms and "gets trapped without light deep in the heart of an enormous limestone cave." We'll see if his two fans are up to eating rotting flesh too.

BTW Bear is doing more hawking of survival stuff than any of the other survival hosts. Bear has an official "survival knife" and official "survival clothes" listed online.

Mentioning knives reminds me Mykel & Ruth consistently carry large sheath knives that verge on being Roman short swords and the sheaths are often festooned with little pouches which presumably carry sharpening stones and other survival gear although I haven't seen any of it demonstrated yet. Mykel sometimes wields a large Gerka knife (Kukri) and I wouldn't be surprised if the Man Woman Wild show soon has an official knife or two.

The guys over at Blade Forums have some interesting ideas on new survival shows staring the same cast members:

trichos writes:
"I'd love to see an episode where Dave teams up with Bear. It would be action packed! On the other hand, it'd be great to see Cody and Les work together sans crew. They seem to share a similar vibe."

To which quick kill replies:
"Dave&bear would be a mad house! Then you have Les&Cody.It would be informative but I think it would be to calm to harmonic. And probably not be as entertaining. Now if you through les, Cody, bear, Dave, and Mike & wifey all on an island or up in the mountain. And they had a drawing for their partners and grab a random bag of gear. Then each had to make it to a randomly selected... but different point for "rescue"now that would be an interesting show.. "

The only problem with that is that idea is that although Cody + Dave + Bear + Les + Mykel + Ruth = six survivalists I doubt Mykel would be willing to have Ruth taking insane chances with Bear Grylls on an island OR a mountain top.

Likewise Les and Bear's styles are so completely different that I can't see them teaming up for anything more than a pre show cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Perhaps if the stars of the four shows maintained their current partners (or none in the case of Les & Bear) and then were to grab random bags of gear and head for four equidistant points for rescue…

Mmmmmmmmmmm… now that would be a good one hour show or series of shows as the cameras showed us ten minute* segments of each "team" as they trekked through jungles or forests, across deserts or tundra and mountains or savanna.

(* Your average TV show half hour has about twenty-two minutes of actual show. The other eight minutes or so is taken up by promos and commercials so a one hour show with four "teams" could be broken down into five or ten minute segments for each team.)

Another variation I'd love to see would be each of the four shows do a show or series of shows on disaster survival applying the same survival skills they use in the wild to deserted and destroyed urban and suburban environs.

Worst-Case Scenario
Bear Grylls did a mercifully short series entitled Worst-Case Scenario in which he mixed his usual tour de force of recklessness with a few good survival tips. Running in the open in broad daylight (while lecturing on the importance of remaining hidden from looters & outlaws), climbing up the outsides of buildings and repelling down elevator shafts in a survival situation is a recipe for further disaster not survival.

Survival Soap Opera
And now we turn to the problem of the "Survival Shows" turning into Survival Soap Operas.

Yes I'm talking about The Colony that contrived soap opera that's trying to pass itself off as a survival show. Every scripted scene in the promos I've seen (I refuse to watch this farce because it refuses to admit to the use of weapons & deadly force being used in an all out TEOTWAWKI situation) is just a shabby version of something from the TV soap operas. Replace the dirt smear on the protagonists faces with lipstick and you've got an episode from Days of Our Lives or any of the other melodramas.

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