Judge Kent Dixon just ate a raw hotdog during a rain shower...doesn't that count for something?
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 4 (published May 4th, 2010), and Man vs. Wild: Top 25 Man Moments (published April 29th, 2012) are also available.
Wherever Bear goes, danger follows, and extreme survival is the only defence!
As of July 2011, Man Vs. Wild has racked up an impressive 77 episodes including eight special episodes that offer behind the scenes insights, feature special guests, or focus on a specific location. I think at this stage, we can all agree the series' core formula is a successful one. Grylls and his production team keep tweaking things and delivering new and exciting locations that keep devoted fans' interest, while drawing new ones.
It's still very clear that the series, while portraying potential real-life hazards and life-or-death survival scenarios, is carefully planned and orchestrated to ensure both the safety of Grylls and the camera crew. It's also clear pre-show planning is used to ensure the week to 10-day episodic shooting schedule yields content that maintains the series' high standards and exciting locales.
For whatever reason, Man Vs. Wild: Season 5 marks the first time a season has dropped below 10 episodes. Whether due to budget restrictions or other factors, such as his young family wanting to see him more often, eight seems to be a new magic number of episodes, all of which are included here…
While shorter than usual, this season features a wide variety of exciting and challenging settings that include a deserted island surrounded by shark-infested waters; the sweltering and hazardous Australian Outback; the breathtaking and potentially treacherous Canadian Rockies; the wild and untamed Georgian Republic in Eastern Europe; the episode "Fan Vs. Wild" which follows two lucky series fanboys as they join Bear in the Canadian wilderness, braving glaciers, falls and icky meals; and the Mojave Desert, where Grylls and his team simulate brutal sandstorm conditions that can appear out of nowhere. Two special episodes, "Shooting Survival" and "Behind the Wild" show what goes into capturing the amazing footage and dealing with the tricky situations that often occur while shooting the series.
Consistent with previous season collections, Man Vs. Wild: Season 5 features some breathtaking vistas and pulse-pounding moments. Given the guerilla nature of how much footage is shot, there can be some minor inconsistencies in image clarity from scene to scene, but overall the picture is crisp and features excellent contrast and deep blacks. This season's home video release is still hindered by a 2.0 audio mix that while well balanced and clear, just doesn't seem to do justice to the overall presentation.
The only bonus features to be found are a handful of deleted scenes, which add some additional moments with Bear and shots of the season's beautiful and exotic landscapes. When I reviewed Season 4, I begged for some behind-the-scenes content, and at least we got that this time around. As much as folks might argue that Bear already talks enough during each episode, I'd still like to hear even a play-by-play commentary by him or some of the key production team members on some of the episodes; again, maybe next time.
While Man Vs. Wild is still only a generation or two removed from the annoying clot of reality-based series that littered the '90s and early 2000s, I still find it much easier to swallow than series that rely on human conflict and back-stabbing to grease their wheels. Especially apparent in the opening disclaimer and behind-the-scenes episodes included in Man Vs. Wild: Season 5, this series seems to have carved out its niche, asserted its identity, and built a solid head of steam to carry it into the future.
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