Great Lake Warriors

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Sun­day, 5.30pm, A&E Sound­ing a lit­tle like Henry Wadsworth Longfel­low, the nar­ra­tor of this spec­tac­u­lar se­ries be­gins: ‘‘ In the heart of North Amer­ica churns a ruth­less in­land sea.’’ Yes, the man has the soul of a poet. His ele­gant ex­pres­sion is matched by vi­sion de­signed to demon­strate just how wild and dan­ger­ous Amer­ica’s Great Lakes can be. But the men who pi­lot tugs here have more in com­mon with the tough dudes of Dead­li­est Catch than the Port­land poet. ‘‘ Th­ese Great Lakes’ll kill ya,’’ says a tug­boat cap­tain. ‘‘ If it wants ya, it’s gonna come and git ya.’’ He has a point, even if his gram­mar sucks. Since Euro­pean set­tle­ment, more than 6000 ves­sels have been lost on the lakes, along with an es­ti­mated 30,000 lives. Taken to­gether, the five sep­a­rate basins that make up the Great Lakes are equal in size to the land mass of France. ‘‘ For nine months of the year the in­dus­trial wa­ter­way is dan­ger­ous,’’ says our friend the poet. ‘‘ But in the three months lead­ing up to the dead of win­ter, the Great Lakes can be deadly.’’ What fol­lows is a beau­ti­fully shot ex­plo­ration of the work en­vi­ron­ment of hardy tug­boat cap­tains. Pos­si­bly more in­ter­est­ing is footage of the mas­sive lakes in placid dawns con­trasted with vi­su­als of huge 9m waves whipped up by fierce winds. At last, a re­al­ity se­ries about tough men do­ing a tough job in a ruth­less en­vi­ron­ment that is also beau­ti­ful to watch.

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