I have often espoused the virtues of Les Stroud. Les writes, directs, produces, and stars in a show called "Survivorman" seen on the Discovery Channel in the US and the Outdoor Life Network in Canada. The premise of the show is explained in the blurb from the official site:
"No food, no shelter, no fresh water, no tools… no camera crew. One man – alone in the wild for seven days with only his wits and stamina to sustain him."
So, the deal with Survivorman is Les does it all. He gets dumped into some remote locale with a load of camera gear and has to survive and film. The quoted blurb above is a little misleading. During each episode, Les is usually equipped with SOME provisions. This has included at various times: a multi-tool, emergency blanket, swiss army knife, minor foodstuffs, etc. And, he always has some sort of way to contact a production team in his general vicinity in the event of an emergency situation.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a big Les Stroud fan. The newest season of Survivorman starts August 10, 2007 on Discovery. I enjoy this show because Les is (probably correctly) portrayed as an "Average Joe". He's not going to win a modeling contract, he's not a prime physical specimen, he's just a guy who knows survival techniques and how to effectively produce entertaining television. He is a small, Canadian god of a man.
The Discovery Channel also has a show called Man VS. Wild . This show stars Bear Grylls an is positioned as having basically the same premise as Survivorman. It is a survival themed show. BUT, Bear is a FORMER MEMBER OF THE BRITISH SPECIAL FORCES, Bear CLIMBED MOUNT EVEREST, Bear is a BEEFCAKE! LOOK LADIES! See Bear take his shirt off!
An initial review of Man VS. Wild brings some interesting things to light. Bear always travels with a camera crew. He even shows his proper British manners by directing them around dangerous obstacles like alligators, venomous snakes, and toothbrushes. Bear also ALWAYS has a flint (fire starting tool) and a water bottle inside of an unmentioned metal carrying case often used to boil water. Bear also likes to climb up and down things. Things like cliffs, trees, and waterfalls. Yes, waterfalls. But, Bear is qualified to do all of these things because he CLIMBED MOUNT EVEREST. Of course all of the risks he takes and all of the geographical obstacles he overcomes are central to the excitement of the plot. They are also most often things that untrained and sane people should never attempt. If you're lost on a mountain without food or shelter should you really be spending time and energy climbing sheer rock faces?
What I'm trying to convey is that BEAR doesn't appear to be all he's cracked up to be.
And now, some interesting information has come to light regarding Man VS. Wild and the exploits of fair Bear. The full details can be read in this ABC News article (The story was first run by British TV4). Details from the article include:
"Channel 4 confirmed that Grylls had spent the night indoors on at least two occasions when the series had led viewers to believe he was spending the night in the wild."
"…is an episode supposedly set on a deserted island (actually Hawaii) that shows him building a raft, which was actually constructed and then disassembled by show consultants so that the host could easily put it together."
Wow, what a fraud.
Discovery is working fast to spin the news. Here's an excerpt from their response: "Moving forward, the program will be 100 percent transparent, and all elements of the filming will be explained upfront to our viewers".
I think they should change the name of the show to Limey VS. Marginal Outdoor Discomfort
I can't wait for the new season of Survivorman.