Discovery Channel // 2009 // 440 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 21st, 2009
"I just dragged a dead sheep out of an Irish bog."
And that was probably the least gross thing Bear Grylls did this season. More wacky wilderness hijinks and mammal heart chewing -- straight ahead!
So we've got this guy named Bear, which is about right because he likes poking around in caves and eating raw fish. Each episode drops Bear into a Godforsaken corner of the Earth to put his survival skills to the test. We're along for the ride thanks to a camera crew that actually might be more bad-ass than Bear himself, seeing as they have to do a lot of the same crazy crap he does, but holding a video camera.
Season Three takes Bear to ten different locales: Baja Desert, the Deep South, Ireland, South Dakota, Yukon, Romania, Turkey, Belize, Dominican Republic and Oregon.
Bear Grylls and Man vs. Wild has come under fire because of questions of authenticity. "He's not doing this for real!" "He's supported by the camera crew!" "Challenges are faked for him!" Well, yeah. Discovery's not going to drop this dude in the middle of the Badlands with just a Handycam. The guy's willing to squeeze the water out of a bear turd and drink it, but I don't care how hardcore he is, there's an excellent chance he would die slow. Or, worse, the footage would be all shaky and hard to see.
Look, the guy isn't faking it when he takes a mouthful of dead sheep heart, or chews up and swallows a slug, or rinses off a piece of fruit he culled from bear poop and pops it into his mouth, or wrestled an alligator and bashed it's head in -- really, Judge Mike Rubino put it best when he described this guy as "disgusting MacGyver." Homeboy knows his stuff and no matter what manner of support he might be receiving from the camera crew and/or stunt coordinator, he's obviously doing a lot of it for real. Most importantly, it's entertaining.
Which, if we're honest, is why we're tuning into this guy's misadventures. I would posit that maybe 2% of the viewers are watching Man vs. Wild to learn valuable survival tips for the next time they're wandering around the desolate wasteland of the Transylvania wilderness.
"Hey honey! Did you know you can inflate a ewe's hide through its leg-hole and use it as a flotation device? Good to know for our one week trip to the Yukon! You know when we parachute onto a glacier with just a backpack and a knife!"
He may be a polarizing figure among reality show buffs, but I like Bear Grylls. He's got a good disposition, even when he's urinating into a cobra carcass, and maintains the cheer as he, naturally, drinks that very urine a few hours later. The guy makes the show and watching his face when he chews on a bug or other repulsive creature -- as if he was surprised that bear roughage tastes horrible -- is nearly worth the cost of the DVDs itself.
The ten episodes, spread over three discs, look great, transferred in a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and supported by a stereo mix. Extras are limited to highlights from the first three seasons and deleted scenes.
If you're particular about your survival shows actually being life and death, then you could nitpick the crap out of this show. Me? Give me a crazy guy willing to drop through glaciers and go noodling for catfish over hardcore realism. Big fun.
Not Guilty. Someone get this man a Marriott.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Discovery Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 440 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Season Highlights
* Official Site