One day over July 4th weekend, I was feeling under the weather and staring listlessly at the TV with my boyfriend when "Man vs. Wild" came on the Discovery channel. My boyfriend wanted to watch an episode and I was feeling too weak to argue. But after just a few minutes, I was hooked and glad I'd started watching the show during a marathon! Now I can't get enough of this adventurous/scary/disgusting and intriguing show, which airs Friday nights at 9:00 PM during its normal season. I've even converted several friends, some of whom have gone so far as to buy flints in case they need, um, a fire, I guess.
The host is Bear Grylls, who is the only human we see throughout the show, so it's a good thing he's a fearless yet boyishly adorable British man formerly a part of the British Special Air Services with a seemingly bottomless knowledge about nature and survival. At the start of every episode he parachutes into a remote part of a jungle/desert/glacier/other unforgiving terrain. His mission? To survive long enough to make his way to some kind of civilization. The fact that he makes it through every mission is cool enough, but there's more to this show that I love, so read more
The camera crew following him is not allowed to provide him with food or assistance of any sort unless it's a life-or-death situation. Along the way, Bear's voiceover provides any remaining details that Bear isn't giving in the moment, including harrowing stories (at least 2 or more per episode) about luckless — or sometimes clever — adventurers in the past who have either died in the area he's traveling or have survived using the tactics Bear's demonstrating.
Sure, this is probably partially (or largely) staged, I don't doubt that. There's even an investigation going on about exactly how staged it is, with accusations being thrown around that Bear has occasionally been flown to hotels to spend the night out of the wilderness. This doesn't really matter to me, though, because when I watch a man demonstrate how to get out of quicksand (by immersing himself in quicksand), I think he can spend the night in whatever hotel he wants. That's some good TV!
In the clip below, watch as Bear jumps into frigid waters to explain what happens to a body in that situation, then scrambles out, gets naked, rubs snow on himself and does push-ups in the nude. It's fantastically crazy.