So I watched last night’s episode of “Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment” with anticipation, as it was the season finale. Five volunteers left, trekking their way through the wilds of southern Alaska, trying to find their way back to civilization while following a map to shelters given to them by the show’s producers. I’ve enjoyed the show, as it demonstrates how hard it is to stay alive when you have to survive in a wild place with nothing but your wits and what you’re carrying on your back. The experiment started with nine people, which quickly got whittled down to five. Some of the highlights from the finale:
(SPOILER ALERT, READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT)
- Carolyn Yamazaki calls it quits. Unfortunate, as she was an interesting cast member who came so close to finishing. But I understand her reasoning. She said that she got to the point where she just didn’t care about anything related to the challenge anymore and wanted to leave. Such apathy toward the goal was definitely a sign of depression, IMHO. It’s a shame, though. She came so close.
- Producers messing with the cast. I love the fact that with the group totally worn down, they were presented with a lousy shelter and assigned their longest, steepest and coldest trek of the experiment… just before they’d reach their first sign of civilization. I loved this. Enjoyably cruel. But the volunteers looked like they were ready to tackle it. Kudos to them.
- Finding the railroad and getting a ride back to civilization. This is the one part of the show I did not enjoy just because it seemed a little too staged. Reality shows have a lot of staged scenes, for sure, and it was no accident that the producers would take the group right by the train tracks. But the train showing up, dragging just a couple cars, stopping and taking them to Talkeetna… where their families were waiting… was just a little too cheesy for me. It seems having them actually use the tracks to get somewhere where they could hitch a ride would be a little more authentic to the spirit of the show.
Overall, good series. They took a different tack than last season. Both, I felt, were good formats. Here’s hoping for a third season and a new casting call for hardy, adventurous souls.
- Bob Doucette