I’m not a big TV watcher. We don’t have cable TV at our house and don’t watch any live TV shows, but I do like to pick up the out of season survival shows they put on Amazon and Netflix.
My favorite is Dual Survival, but it hasn’t been the same since Dave Canterbury left the show. Now Cody Lundin has left as well, so I’m curious to see what the newest iteration will look like.
Another good one is Ray Mears. He’s got a good laid back style and seems very knowledgeable about wilderness survival.
Les Stroud is another one I really like. He goes out and does his thing alone and you can tell he works hard to get all the camera angles by himself. His laid back approach to survival makes a lot of sense and I’ve seen episodes where he’ll try to emulate a injury and then halfway through the episode say, “Screw that. It’s hard enough as it is!” and then stop trying to emulate the injury.
Probably the only guy I don’t like is Bear Grylls. It’s not his style or personality necessarily, but some of the things he does to survive are just crazy. Not to mention he’s been shown to stay at hotels while playing if off like he spent the night out in the cold in a shelter.
I like to tune in to these shows to get survival tips and ideas. When Bear decides he’s going to rappel down a gorge on a vine I just shake my head. Hopefully most of you are smart enough to know that a lot of what Bear does is simply for entertainment purposes. Same for the other shows of course, but for the most part the others are showing you a few good survival tricks.
Watching somebody go through a survival situation is interesting. People like to read stories about those who have survived against incredible odds. Why? One of the reasons I like to watch is to see what they did to survive so I can emulate it if I ever find myself in that situation. Remember, if that person survived their situation they did it right.
I don’t want to be the guy who survives a plane crash only to die of exposure just because I didn’t know how to improvise a shelter. I also don’t want to be the guy who makes a pair of skis out of airplane siding and tries to extreme ski down the alps because I saw Bear Grylls do something like it on one of his survival episodes. (I totally made that up by the way.)
There’s something about watching a person overcome great odds that folks love. Do you remember the story about the girl who’s plane exploded in midair over a rain forest and she fell two miles? She landed still attached to her seat, then had to walk out of the rain forest while injured. I don’t think you can over come any odds greater than that, but there are many stories like that out there that are worth reading.
When Cody Lundin or whoever puts themselves in a survival situation it’s interesting to us as human beings. How will they drink? Eat? Stay warm? How will they find their way out? How will they avoid danger? It’s interesting because there’s a sense of danger, yet here are people willing to face it, think it through, and come up with solutions that you and I probably wouldn’t have thought of.
Sure, some of it’s MacGyver stuff, but that’s usually the network trying to boost ratings and some of it’s pretty cool anyway. And who’s not to say that a little of that kind of MacGyver’ish attitude wouldn’t be a good thing.
Is it Survival?
Is it really survival when you’re surrounded by camera crews? Not really. A real survival situation is when your GPS strands you 40 miles out at the end of a logging road and all you have is a wool blanket and a bag of M & M’s. When you’re in that situation and you have to make real survival decisions it’s a different story. Knowing that every single decision you make is the decision between life and death will undoubtedly add a measure of stress to the situation that simply isn’t there during the filming of one of these shows.
Probably the closest of the shows is Les Stroud’s Survivorman series. Even though he packs up 50 pounds of camera gear he still has to make decisions that could potential mean life and death. I wonder if he has a cell phone or other way to bail out if the situation gets too dangerous?
All in all I enjoy the various programs out there for different reasons. There are a couple I haven’t seen, one being Naked and Afraid where the contestants are set somewhere nude and have to survive for 21 days. If anybody has feedback on that show I’d like to hear it.
So how about it? Are there any TV shows I’ve missed or maybe some good survival movies I should check out?
Sound off below!