And there’s not one word about Sarah Palin
I’M an Alaskaphile of serious proportions. Having visited the place for a fortnight or so in the 1980s, while I’d never call myself an expert, I can at least vouch for the unique pristine wilderness of the place and its hardy, pioneer-spirited people. So, put Alaska in the title of a television program and I’m on it.
While many Alaskan wildlife programs are so good they make you want to dance in the snow, to be sure, some junk TV has also been made in the 49th state of the American Union ( Alaskans call the other states ‘‘ the lower 48’’).
Happily, this reality adventure former category.
While it does feature the horribly cliched reality show music you can’t escape on programs such as Survivor ( all tension strings and explosive percussion, as if the yeti itself is perpetually poised above the recently slain corpses of the participants), for the most part the landscape is allowed to shine through the show’s premise.
The Alaska Experiment films four groups of people who have agreed to leave modern life in an attempt to survive in the wilderness for three months. They are given dry rations, simple hunting tools and crude shelter, and they must hunt prey if they want to spice up their diet with anything more robust than rice and potatoes.
First up we meet Greg and Bernice Pierson, a Californian couple married for 12 years. Their first task is to hike 16km up the Hawkins Glacier to find a wilderness cabin.
Along the way they have to cross the near-freezing, rapidly flowing and beautifully shot series is in the
Glacier challenge: Greg and Bernice are part of the experiment waist-deep waters of the Chitina River. Mentor Paul Claus, credited as an Alaskan survival expert, helpfully lets them know that if they fall into the river, the bed of which is covered with slippery, oddly shaped rocks, they have 90 seconds to get out. Any longer and they’re dead. ( Cue tension strings).
Then there are three frat buddies; a man and his two teenage daughters; and finally, a couple from New Jersey.
Each group is dropped in a different part of Alaska, hundreds of kilometres apart, and faces different survival challenges.
The New Jersey couple, for example, has to kayak up a river festooned with icefloes that have calved off a glacier. They will be searching for their new home, a white Alaskan wall tent, along the bank. Lucky devils.
But I save my greenest envy for Dennis Wise and his teenage daughters, who must share a place called Icy Bay with Alaska’s largest population of brown bears.
More people are killed by bears in Alaska than in any other place on earth. But the Wises shouldn’t worry. That only amounts to six since 2000.
Every young mother in charge of a newborn has anxiety, not just about how to care for the infant but about losing control and not being able to avert horrendous consequences. Tonight’s epitomises that fear when a mother has a seizure while bathing her newborn son, almost drowning him. Natch, Dr House has to mobilise the team to work out the cause of the fit.