Brian's Notes

Thoughts on Stuff and Junk

Survival on the Discovery Channel

I love wilderness survival shows. Always have, and probably always will. It seems I’m not alone considering the slew of TV shows out there about it. Each has their own little spin on the subject. Here are my favorite 4 (ok, 5):


The original, the classic. Even though Les has moved on to “Beyond Survival”, this remains one of my all-time favorite shows. I love it for his no-nonsense, no-thrills, no-frills survival advise. It’s just five days alone in the wild with just his wits and camera equipment but it basically started this whole survival show trend. If you haven’t seen it, find a way (the 3 seasons are available on DVD), it’s good stuff.

Dual Survival

This is a newer show that just wrapped up it’s first season on the Discovery Channel. It follows Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury as they team up to get through the typical survival situations people find themselves in. Cody is the hippie, minimalist, primitive survival guy and Dave is the Army trained scout, sniper, and hunter type. It’s like the “Odd Couple” of survival. But, despite their differences, they seem to be able to work as a team and get through the situation, which I think is one of the lessons of the show. Plus the banter between them makes for some fun TV. I hope they make a second season.

Man, Woman, Wild

Another show where a lot of the draw is the dialog and interaction of it’s “characters”. Here it’s a husband and wife team going out into the woods to survive typical survival situations (sound familiar?). He’s Mykel Hawke, a retired Army Special Forces Green Beret survival instructor and she’s Ruth England, a British TV personality and field journalist. Basically, it’s Mykel taking his wife out into the woods to teach her survival tactics. She really gives it her all out there and between the two of them they make for great TV fun. He’s quite the character but I think it’s Ruth that makes the show with her flamboyant hatred of snakes and anything creepy-crawly, and her willingness to try his “crazy” ideas (like drinking his urine for hydration). She’s “as tough as woodpecker lips”…

Beyond Survival

I just started watching this and can already tell I’m going to be a fan of the show. Again, it follows Les Stroud, of Survivorman, as he goes to remote locations to “seek out the true masters of survival - the last indigenous tribes of the world”. I just watched the “Sea Gypsies” episode and really enjoyed it, looking forward to more.

And, although not actually “wilderness survival” but survival nonetheless:

Surviving the Cut

This show gives insight into what it takes to get through some of the US military’s toughest schools. They highlight the Rangers, PJs, Marine Recon, SF Divers, Navy EOD, and Marine Snipers. It’s interesting that the US Navy SEALs are missing, but at the same time I find that refreshing since the TV is saturated with shows about SEALs. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but it’s nice to see other branches get the spotlight. Anyway, this is a great series and shows what our war fighters go through in their pursuit of being the best, highly recommend.

Ok, you may be wondering “Where’s Man vs. Wild?!” Well, good question and I have a response: I can’t stand the show. From it’s title (really, man VERSUS wild?) to his sensationalized survival “techniques” that could get people into some serious trouble out in the bush. And then there is the well-documented fake aspect. I had such high hopes for this show when it came out, but those were dashed after watching the first couple episodes, where I saw him jump off a 40 foot cliff into a raging river to get away from a “bear chasing him”. Then choosing to float down said river using his backpack for buoyancy only to see footage of him obviously using a lifejacket under his sweatshirt. It was just such a letdown after being a Survivorman fan. But I knew it was going to be popular because people love exciting TV, and seems I was right.

Well, there you have it, a little roundup on some of my favorite survival shows (and one of my least favorite). I know the trend will die as people’s interest fades and they focus on something else, but in the meantime it’s great for a survival geek like me!