Bear Grylls took a lot of grief from survivalists after the first season of Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild. Not so much because network bigwigs staged certain situations or forced the adventuresome Brit to use safety ropes, flotation devices, and other helps to mitigate the perils of his stunts. But because the producers did their best to hide these helps from the audience.
The ire was unfortunately directed at Grylls himself. He was called a fake, a liar, and even worse: a wuss. The formerly gun-shy Grylls got the point and took a stand, demanding the net do things his way from that point on. Second season episodes debuted with disclaimers about assistance and staged situations, and new cover-your-butt narration was dubbed back into first season episodes for reruns.
The fact that it’s taken Grylls so long to shake this “wussy” image is both unfortunate and ironic. Unfortunate because the show’s entire purpose was to demonstrate survival in certain situations (it makes sense then, that they’d either seek out or create these situations). It’s ironic because they don’t come much tougher than Bear Grylls.
Criticize his ridiculous pronunciations of “glacier” and “vitamins” or his disturbing propensity to shed his clothes at least once every episode, but Bear ain’t a wuss. There may be a crew standing by in case he gets hypothermia, but that’s Bear leaping into that icy water. There may be a cameraman filming him, but that’s Bear leaping over those gaping chasms, or eating a cow’s eye, or biting into a raw zebra carcass, or sleeping inside a dead camel.
Good stuff. Which is why I was delighted last night when I caught a teaser for the new season of Man vs. Wild, which begins next Wednesday at 9pm on Discovery. Apparently the show’s focus has expanded beyond survival basics to extreme adventure. Sounds awesome.
Just one request—let’s keep the clothes on this year, eh Bear?