So the National Geographic Channel has gotten into the adventure TV thing. Seriously, it’s about time! Photos and essays from National Geographic have long stoked my imagination for adventure. So their late entry is puzzling yet welcome.
Anyway, I checked out what might be described as a teaser show that aired Saturday called “Alone in the Wild.” The show is pretty much what you get if you were to cross “Survivorman” with “The Alaska Experiment.”
The host and sole cast member of the show is filmmaker/adventurer Ed Wardle. He has some outdoor chops: He’s summited Mount Everest twice (once as producer for “Everest Beyond the Limit”) and has diving, mountaineering and ice climbing expertise. The show’s producers, however, are quick to point out that he’s not a survival expert.
So that makes the premise of the show pretty interesting. Ed’s goal is to fly into the backcountry of the Canadian Yukon (just east of Alaska) and survive there for three months. He’s got the basic stuff you’d have if you were backpacking, including a gun and fishing gear. But for food, he’s going to have to hunt, fish or gather it wherever he can. And he’ll have to be careful not to tangle with bears and moose that are common in the Yukon Territory. All the while, he’ll be filming the entire adventure by himself. No cameramen, no support crew, no one else around him. His only rescue will come if he fails to check in twice a day.
Saturday’s episode was a preview of sorts. It chronicles him making a “test run” in the Yukon. His initial foray was six days long, and gratefully, he made it out OK and learned a few things about hunting and trapping. He also later got some good advice on what wild plants he could and could not eat.
This sets up the series, which is to air in September. And the most interesting thing about it now is that he’s filming as we speak. That’s right, Ed Wardle is in the Yukon now (has been since July 3) and will be there for a couple more months. Nat Geo has a Web site up that allows people to track his progress, read blog posts and otherwise see how he’s doing.
The not-so-subtle implication is that there’s no guarantee he’ll finish the task or even survive.
As for this weekend’s ep: Pretty interesting. I just figured it was another rip-off of “Survivorman” or “Man vs. Wild.” But it is different, and I like the fact that he is truly by himself. It’s cool that viewers can keep up with him online as his stay in Canada progresses. I just hope this turns out well and doesn’t end up in some sort of tragedy. During the program, he struggles with the things you’d expect — finding food, dealing with the elements, worrying about bears. But there’s an interesting human component that arises as the isolation, fear and stress of being marooned in the wilderness sets in. And it sets in fast.
I’ll be watching the show when it comes out this fall. If you want to follow Ed or learn more about the show, go to this link here: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/alone-in-the-wild