September 3, 2014
Fishin' for thoughts

Who says learning can’t be entertaining?

By John Fischer|Staff writer
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Posted 1/28/09

Let me start off by saying my taste in television programming, outside of sports, is very broad and a little hard to reason. I’ve never been one to like or follow cop dramas or reality shows (although I will admit some of those VH1 reality shows like Real Chance of Love or Rock of Love with Bret Michaels can be pretty hilarious and entertaining in filling the void on a boring day). My cup of tea is more comedy (original), out-of-the-ordinary programming and the occasional random-select (Family Guy, Scrubs, Heroes, House, Cash Cab, The Office, Entourage, True Blood, etc. just to give you an idea). Usually, shows that aren’t the same run-of-the-mill, clichéd-laden crap (Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, CSI: Flint or whatever crime-ridden city they’re in now, The Bachelor). I’m sorry, just how I feel.

But one show that I’ve become absolutely addicted to is Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild featuring the 33-year-old educated and, sometimes, almost-insane adventuring-survival expert Bear Grylls.

According to his biography on Discovery Channel’s website, Bear was formerly in the Special Air Service, a special unit of the British Army, during which time he broke his back in three places in a parachuting accident. He then went on to become the youngest person, at age 23, to scale Mount Everest along with breaking four other world records including becoming the first to circumnavigate the United Kingdom with a group on jet skis, led the first unassisted crossing of the frozen North Atlantic Ocean in an open rigid inflatable boat, hosting a dinner party at a table suspended below a hot air balloon at 24,500 feet and becoming the first person to fly over Mount Everest by powered paraglider. He’s also written two books about a couple of the previous-mentioned feats.

Incase you haven’t seen the show, Bear travels to different parts of the globe and takes on the challenges of that particular landscape with nothing other than proper clothing, a flint and a knife. Once in awhile he’ll bring another useful item such as a handful of kindling bark, but overall, he’s left for dead to these unforgiving terrains of all sorts.

Now, of course for health and safety regulations, if something happens and Bear gets into a situation that has no outcome other than death, there’s a crew that follows and would save him, although I’ve never seen that actually happen. The crew also presents certain situations to Bear to demonstrate local survival techniques according to his surroundings. For example, while navigating through the Arctic Circle, Bear demonstrated how easy it is to fall into a crevice in the huge glaciers that can reach depths nobody could fight their way out of. The ice is so cold not even ice picks and ice-climbing shoes can grip its surface.

What makes the show great, though, is the vast knowledge of his surroundings Bear makes use of and the information and stories he shares with viewers each show. No matter if it’s a cobra attack, an endless desert, freezing tundra or just a plain old case of lack of food, Bear always seems to know how to fight his way through. I’ve seen instances where Bear has had to take such extreme measures (a la filtering his own urine in the desert so he wouldn’t dehydrate or biting the spine of a live fish to kill it because he couldn’t make a fire on the icy glacier) nobody would question the integrity of the show.

Monday, Bear is taking on the Dominican Republic during hurricane season. Like always, it should make for an interesting and entertaining 60 minutes. If you’re not doing anything at 10 p.m., I suggest checking it out for yourself or better yet, if you’re a science or geography teacher, taping it and showing it to your class.

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