Do not adjust your sets: This is Real

Let us be very clear before we go on this little sojourn into the realm of reality television. First and foremost, I am not going to do much with regard to reality television as it appears behind the aegis of the major networks. I am not going to condemn those that watch Reality TV as illiterate fools that should be used for food. I am certainly not declaring that they should be put into internment camps and summarily euthanized.

Perish those thoughts from your mind…because I am not saying them.

What I will say is that while I was covering the new series debuts during the mid-season, I did not touch upon the plethora of programs on Discovery, A&E, and CMT which fall into the realm of reality.

All right, there were some on E! too. But I am loathe to look at them because mostly E! is the sepulcher where entertaining television goes to be interred. The process by which a show ends up on E! is it must be lured into the catacombs to retrieve a cask of Amontillado at which point it gets walled in by a mortar of Chelsea Handler mixed with bricks of Bridalplasty.

E! is the goddamn oubliette of television is what I am saying.

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least give a snapshot of the mid-season shows just because I find reality television appalling. I will be as sweet and succinct as possible, because reality television is like shots of anti-freeze: tasty, but will kill you.

Hitch up your sanity, cats and kittens. It’s about to flood wacky up in here:

Flying Wild Alaska

The show follows the life of the Tweto family and their transport business. They run Era Alaska, the sole lifeline of those that live along the coastline of the Bearing Sea. It follows the quirky family as well as the employees of Era Alaska, a 75 plane operation that combats some of the most unforgiving weather imaginable in tiny aircraft carrying medicine, foodstuffs, sled dogs, and whatever else is needed for the lives of the scattered populace they serve.

What I think

This falls into the same niche as the multitude of other career based shows that have been cropping up since the popularity of Deadliest Catch. I enjoy it more than I did Ice Road Truckers or Ax Men, partially because it is structured around a family rather than a group of foul-mouthed roughnecks. There is a better character dynamic, with the addition of wife and daughters to the intense workaholic father set against the Alaskan backdrop. This is Alaska with much more human interest and allure than any of the trifling nonsense Sarah Palin has broadcast about animal slaughter as done by the rich and idiotic.

Sons of Guns

The show follows the members of Red Jacket Firearms, a gunsmithing and firearm distribution business based out of Baton Rouge Louisiana. It branches out further than does shows like Pawn Stars,in that rather than focusing quite so heavily on the business end of it, there are a whole array of experiments and explosive showcases of modified, modern, and historic weapons.

What I think

I will admit that I am not a big fan of firearms. I like blasting away with a SIG as much as the next cat, and enjoyed an adolescence as marked by violent video games as it was by pornography. I do not have anything against guns, per se, I just do not really care for them. I have no desire to repeal the second amendment, and have the insight to blame the wielders whenever there is a shooting death rather than the tool used. What I enjoyed about this show is it is a quality combination of history, information, and satisfying violence. It is not dissimilar from the short series Lock N’ Load, which starred ex-marine and professional hardass: R. Lee Ermey. It is smart, clever, and informative. It also doesn’t shy away from enough onomatopoeic gunfire and explosions to set off your uncle’s PTSD…which is fun. I mean the gunfire. Watching Ronny dive under the table to get away from The Viet Cong is less hilarious these days.

Beyond Scared Straight

Arnold Shapiro, award winning film documentarian takes the subject of his film Scared Straight to a whole new level. This focuses on the new intervention programs being used in penal facilities to inspire at-risk youth to avoid a life of drugs, violence, and crime. The subjects are between 11 – 18 years of age and are often sentenced to spend a single day within the confines of an actual adult prison facility. The show focuses on a different program in a different facility around the United States. It then follows up with the young participants to find out the immediate effects, as well as the changes they have made after a months time.

What I think

Without being too personal, my own experience with the correctional system somewhat jaded my views of these programs. I understand the intent of them, but the ugly truth is that some people just like crime. It is less a social determining factor as the show displays, and more an internal decision made by the individual. That being said, the show is reasonably good for anyone that enjoys shows like Lockdown or Lockup. It has a very good humanistic feel in which you may find yourself rooting for the kids to learn to walk the straight and narrow…and sometimes jeering them into a detention facility (some of the kids are, as I said, just criminal).

I will note on the side, that I can guarantee this show is being watched by inmates. They seem to feel that being incarcerated just is not enough jail for them. The convict subculture is stranger than you might think.

Hogs Gone Wild

This miniseries focuses on the epidemic of wild hogs (because apparently we have fixed all the other problems and so this is now in our crosshairs). I must be punny for just a moment and say that it focuses on the animals rather than the John Travolta / Tim Allen film Wild Hogs, despite my belief that the movie did more damage than any psychotic feral pig ever could. Hogs Gone Wild deals with animal removal agencies that are trying to cope with the destructive spread of wild boars and other swine animals. Very few of the hogs pull down the tops of their bikinis in exchange for Mardi Gras beads, and the ones that do are not that hot.

What I Think

Not a bad little show. I was much more fascinated by the biological information about hogs than I was about the backwoods folks (and I assure you, they are not people, persons, or individuals but “folks”) that are responsible for pig wranglin’ (and wranglin’ it is indeed). I will not be watching the whole miniseries, but it has stimulated the dark part of my Coloradoan soul that has enough hillybilly still entrenched that I did catch myself wanting to ‘rassle one of these 700 pound masses of hog flesh. My therapist is back on my speed dial, so do not be concerned.

The Wrap

That is all I could handle for this week. Next week I will be doing battle with Kim & Kourtney Take New York among other shows, including the CMT show Meet the In-Laws. I have updated my last will and testament, notified my next of kin, and am ready to strap on my sittin’ pants for more bullshit straight from the Reality Zone.

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