The sixth season of the Discovery Channel’s show “Man vs. Wild” premiered on January 12, 2009. The presenter, Bear Grylls was in Belize, a country located in Central America. In typical Bear fashion, he fought and beat a nine-foot Boa Constrictor, and cooked it for dinner. Additionally, he spent the episode traversing tough terrain while fighting dehydration and teaching the audience how to survive should they find themselves in situations like Bear.
Bear Grylls, or Edward Michael Grylls as his family calls him, is the presenter in the series. Prior to his work on “Man vs. Wild,” Bear was in the military. From 1994 until 1997, Bear served in the United Kingdom Special Forces Reserve as a trooper, survival instructor, and Patrol medic.
He served in North Africa twice. In 1996, he partially crushed three vertebrae, which ended his services in 1997.
He spent 18 months in and out of rehabilitation. When he was discharged, he focused his energies on realizing a childhood dream: climbing Mount Everest.
The survival instructor part of his resume has certainly helped him as the presenter of “Man vs. Wild.”
The premise of the show is simply whether or not Bear can survive in his environment until he can find civilization. Every episode revolves around Bear dropping into a part of the world that is difficult to survive in. Once he’s there, he begins the adventurous, exciting and sometimes disgusting journey of survival. He has a camera crew that follows him around as well.
Unlike Discovery’s other survival show “Survivorman,” which just ended its series run, Bear Grylls will put himself into situations with the purpose demonstrating survival to the audience so that the audience will be more aware of what to do and what not to do in the same situation or a similar one. For example, in the Zambia episode, he begins the episode by jumping out of his helicopter into the roaring rapids of the Zambian river. Bear explains that the rapids are tough, and usually fatal but he demonstrates survival in the river, and is able to survive the roaring rapids.
There are situations presented in the show that are extreme and for the purposes of demonstrating survival.
However, there are situations which are practical and very useful. During his journeys, Bear will find things to eat such as snake, bugs, grub and larva. Bear will also show the audience what not to eat. Additionally, in episodes when he is in a desert, he finds and creates ways to keep himself from becoming dehydrated.
However, Bear will go to extreme levels to hydrate himself.
For example, he drained water from elephant fecal matter, and urinated into a dead, gutted snake and drank from it. In one episode, though, Bear explained how cacti has sap inside which might appear drinkable but is, in fact, deadly. He tells a story of one of his crewmen who got a tiny bit of sap into his eye and nearly went blind. This ability to tell stories is one of the charming aspects of the show.
The show has endured some controversy. When the series began, Discovery and the show passed off everything Bear did as authentic and alone. Word soon spread that Bear had help behind the scenes, traveling with a survival expert, a safety crew, and a camera crew. There were even rumors of Bear staying in a hotel during the filming of his survival in the wildnerness.
Since that controversy, Discovery re-edited episodes which “deceived” the viewer, and there is now a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode explaining that situations are set up so that Bear can demonstrate survival as well as explaining the existence of the safety crew for health reasons, and the survival expert for dire situations.
“Man vs. Wild” is an entertaining show.
Whether Bear is journeying through the jungles of Panama, the Badlands of South Dakota, the forests of Siberia, the Moab desert in Utah, the rough coast of Ireland or the Florida Everglades, Bear Grylls is informational, entertaining, and has an incredible personality. He will eat anything, including his own wallet, and do anything if it means survival, and that is what “Man vs. Wild” is about at its core.
In April 2008, Bear and Discovery released a book of survival tips.
Recently, Bear injured his shoulder while doing an event for global warming. “Man vs. Wild” airs every Monday on Discovery at 10 p.m.
Chris Monigle is a fourth-year student majoring in literature. He can be reached at CM660983@wcupa.edu.