History Channel // 2009 // 611 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 13th, 2010
A job to die for.
On the frozen wastelands of northern Alaska, a group of truckers drive huge, loaded-up rigs down pants-wettingly lethal icy roads.
Season Three documents the continuing adventures of a select group of Ice Road Truckers, including veterans Hugh Rowland and Alex Debogorski, a rookie driver named Tim Freeman, and the show's first female trucker, Lisa Kelly. The Goal: to navigate their monster rigs to Prudhoe Bay and back. Prudhoe Bay is located 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle and contains a major oil field. To deliver supplies, our heroes will have to negotiate a ridiculously dangerous collection of icy routes, keep clear of the huge drop-offs, and avoid caribou.
I'm not one for the reality genre, but I can get behind this show. History's 10-episode season following the hazards of the Alaska trucker is engaging stuff. While there's never much doubt over the survival of our drivers -- despite the show's best efforts to drum up that tension -- Ice Road Truckers succeeds because it provides insights into a job that most people a) don't know anything about, and b) would poop their pants if they had to give it a try.
I probably fall into that latter category. Even if I'm not going to see flaming truck wreckage on my TV screen, that still doesn't make the Ice Road Trucking gig any less harrowing. I don't fear for the drivers' lives, but watching the kind of insanity they have to maneuver their loads around -- picturing myself in that driver's seat -- yikes, that's when the tension strikes. These fellas (and lady) are pros and it's a treat to see them in action.
However, Ice Road Truckers isn't a series that lends itself to marathon viewing. I could see how the show might grow tedious for people, but taken in small doses it's all good. Even though it's pretty much just dudes driving trucks on slippery roads, you're still bound to see something cool and new. Speaking of which, Season Three contains one of my favorite TV moments ever: the Alaska avalanche containment crew closes off the street and uses a vintage piece of artillery from the Korean War to fire shells into the mountains and detonate avalanches. So awesome...
If the prospect of watching this big rig bonanza is at all appealing, do yourself a solid and snag the Blu-ray. Ice Road Truckers was built for high-definition and the sexy coat of paint the series flaunts in this three-disc release should catch more than a few glances. Transferred in a sleek 1.78:1 1080p HD transfer, the snow-punished, eye-achingly gorgeous vistas of Alaska are the big winners in the visual upgrade; the detailing is crisp and the colors are brilliant. The visual fidelity is so good, down-shifting to standard-def -- on DVD or non-HD broadcast -- would be dramatic, and not in a good way. Supporting the outstanding PQ is an adequate 2.0 uncompressed DTS-HA Master Audio track. A half-hour's worth of non-HD bonus footage rounds out the set.
These Truckers deliver a must-see in high-definition.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 611 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Footage
* Official Website