Judge Kent Dixon is smarter than the average Bear.
Our reviews of Man Vs. Wild: Season 2 (published February 28th, 2009), Man Vs. Wild: Season 3 (published August 21st, 2009), Man Vs. Wild: Season 5 (published August 6th, 2011), and Man vs. Wild: Top 25 Man Moments (published April 29th, 2012) are also available.
"Damn you Bear Grylls."…Will Ferrell
Did you know that a quick Google search for "Bear Grylls fake" yields more than 82,000 hits? Apparently, the man has done something to anger television audiences worldwide. Allow me to get out my soapbox for a moment. The world is full of Grylls nay-sayers, or anti-Bears as I like to call them. These people are the ones who cried "foul" early in the series, when rumors surfaced in the online community that Grylls was a liar and a phoney. Forgetting for a moment that television is largely based on fiction, entertainment and the suspension of disbelief; they were cheesed that Grylls wasn't actually putting himself fully in harm's way as the show seemed to claim.
For me at least, the fact that he obviously had a cameraman with him from the show's premier episode made it pretty clear that the series was more about Grylls' skills (I just trademarked that, by the way), than hardcore Reader's Digest reality. Can't we just try and get along and enjoy some grisly meals and close-calls, whether they're real or not?
For those of us who love settling down for the night on a bundle of sticks, drinking our own pee and carving meat off a frozen deer head; all 13 episodes of Man Vs. Wild: Season 4 are included with this release, spread across three discs as follows:
This series is a pretty enjoyable ride, if you take it for what it is, and Man Vs. Wild: Season Four carries the torch nicely from previous seasons. Grylls is back, not only narrating each episode, but starring as "presenter," which is a seemingly arbitrary title one can only assume was added midway into the series to appease critics. Why stick around and gripe when you can just vote with your remote? (That's also trademarked now by the way.)
The highlights this season included a special guest appearance by actor Will Ferrell who joined Bear on an adventure in the frozen wastes of Sweden. Ferrell plays the funny man, entertaining Grylls and viewers throughout the episode, but there are also a few moments of sincerity when Will seems genuinely moved by the beauty of the environment and the invigoration of the experience. The other highlight from this season was "Urban Survivor," which features Grylls braving the risks of a desolate urban environment in Gdynia, Poland. While regular viewers have seen Grylls dropped into all sorts of unforgiving wilderness environments, it's fascinating to see how his skills translate into an urban landscape that one might encounter following a disaster.
While the visual presentation is clean overall, colors are true and bright, and contrast yields deep blacks; it's hard to miss the somewhat hazy and over-processed scenes that pop up in some episodes, especially those that feature bright daylight shoots or snow-covered landscapes. Another mild annoyance is that while most of the footage is sharp, some segments seem overly soft, possibly due to a change in camera quality from shot to shot. While not very immersive, the 2.0 audio mix is more consistent overall; balancing music, narration and atmospheric sounds.
Man Vs. Wild: Season 4 offers very little in the way of extra features. In fact, aside from a handful of extended scenes that add no real value to their respective episodes, the only other feature is a preview episode of an Animal Planet series called "River Monsters." The series explores dangerous fish that can be found in rivers around the world and viewers can learn about piranhas from the episode included on this Man Vs. Wild release. Since most of us realize there's no small amount of behind-the-scenes production work that goes into making Man Vs. Wild, is it wrong to ask for a bit of a look behind the curtain with a featurette that shows the logistics that go into the average episode? Oh well, maybe next time.
It's safe to say that if you've read to the end of this review, you consider yourself a fan of Bear Grylls and his entertaining series. While a bit shaky on the presentation front and a bit stingy on the extras, ultimately Man Vs. Wild: Season 4 delivers more of what we've come to know and love.
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