Appellate Judge James A. Stewart's glad he doesn't have a narrator.
Our reviews of Ice Road Truckers Deadliest Roads: Season One (Blu-ray) (published May 28th, 2011), Ice Road Truckers: Season Five (published April 29th, 2012), Ice Road Truckers: On And Off The Ice (published June 12th, 2008), Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Four (Blu-Ray) (published February 27th, 2011), Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season One (published December 23rd, 2007), Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Three (Blu-Ray) (published June 13th, 2010), Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Two (published December 10th, 2008), and Ice Road Truckers: The Most Dangerous Episodes (published June 11th, 2009) are also available.
"We're waiting with bated breath to see what the next situation is going to be."—Alex
While Alex isn't rushed to the hospital this season, Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Three has its share of cliffhangers, as the truckers battle weather, moose, dangerous roads, and equipment breakdowns.
There's a change of venue as Hugh Rowland and Alex Debogorski start over again as rookies in Fairbanks, Alaska, to ferry supplies to the oil rigs at Prudhoe Bay. Mostly they'll be on an icy road—the James W. Dalton Highway—with stretches known by names like the Rollercoaster and Avalanche Alley. They work alongside four American truckers—veterans Jack Jessee and George Spears, and youngsters Lisa Kelly and Tim Freeman—as they learn to navigate the dangerous Dalton.
In case you're worried about it, the last stretch is an actual ice road. You still get plenty of ominous narration as well.
Facts of the Case
Ice Road Truckers: Season Three features thirteen episodes on four discs:
• "Rookie Run"
• "Canadian Invasion"
• "Blinding Whiteout"
• "Arctic Ice"
• "Wicked Weather"
• "Turn and Burn"
• "Ocean Run"
• "Race for the Finish"
• "Arctic Thaw"
How many times can you show a special-effects shot of a truck plunging over a cliff? A lot, actually. There's also way too much of the announcer's urgent, ominous narration ("An ice road trucker's nightmare—no brakes and slick roads!"). After watching a big batch of Joe McDoakes shorts a few weeks ago, I was thinking of this guy as an insane version of Joe's ever-present omniscient know-it-all narrator. Not a good sign. Surprisingly, what goes on between the narration and the bogus crash footage is calmer than in past seasons.
Sending Hugh and Alex to Alaska means the two Canadian truckers are rookies again, learning from veteran Stateside drivers. Although Hugh's still up to some antics—his clash with truck inspectors is hilarious and he chafes at riding in a convoy—even the Polar Bear is quieted by a tough challenge. Fatalistic Alex, who struggles with tire chains, also seems humbled by the Alaskan highway, at least for this year.
Learning seems to be the theme this season, with George's friendly mentoring of Tim, who's continuing in the family business, as the centerpiece. Tim gets hit with just about everything—a rougher-than-usual winter, stolen tire chains, mechanical breakdowns—as he keeps going, possibly motivated more by expenses than the challenge of the Dalton. George seems confident that his trying rookie season is forging a hardy trucker. There's another "upstart," as the narrator puts it, in second-year Dalton trucker Lisa. She strives to be "the first heavy haul woman," so she's pushing hard.
There's also more to learn about Arctic trucking for viewers at home, as the show follows avalanche crews, shows how mechanics test and patch tires, and recalls the history of the Dalton. Occasionally, as when snow and ice freeze up Lisa's brakes or a pickup passes Alex and then suddenly stops, risking a collision, you might even get a glimpse of a winter driving problem you should look out for yourself.
The show looks good for the most part, with the filming conditions occasionally producing shaky camera work or hard-to-read night scenes. Subtitles go under any dialogue that might be hard to hear, but it's mostly clear anyway.
There's a half-hour of bonus features that are interesting and informative, covering a dozen topics. Transportation crew camps, the ice road meteorologist, a long-distance walker, crosses at fatality sites, Lisa Kelly, Coldfoot camp, camera work in extreme conditions, tire chains, mechanics, a review board hearing, and two breakdowns are discussed.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
With a quieter season of learning ahead for the truckers, the first two episodes actually seem slow at times, and Hugh and Alex cracking jokes about the drug test didn't do much to liven things up. Once you get past the slow start, though, Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Three is pretty interesting.
Sending Hugh and Alex out onto the Dalton turned out to be a good move for Ice Road Truckers in Season Three. I'm not sure where the producers will send them next year—Siberia, perhaps?—but they'll have to work hard to come up with a Season Four to match it. Giving them a new challenge, and then introducing young truckers Lisa and Tim, made the show more about facing challenges and rooting for the newbies than simply "What's going to happen next?" Although the production sometimes got in the way in the form of overdone narration and special effects, it turned out to be a good show.
Not guilty, although you might want to wait till spring to check it out.
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