August 14, 2009

WTF Discovery Channel?

When I was a kid, one of the minor irritants I endured in the Summer was watching re-runs on television.  If I was lucky, I was able to hang around with friends until after dark, but eventually, my Dad's whistle (which was very loud and distinctive and I've never been able to duplicate) would signal it was time to come in.  Given the times, there was not much to do besides sit down and watch re-runs.  I didn't grow up in a big city, so the only two stations available were CBS and NBC.  Even though Fall meant the inevitable start of school, I did look forward to the new season of shows starting on the networks.

Fast forward to today.  A zillion channels to choose from thanks to cable TV and I still have the same problem, only I don't have any neighborhood friends to ride bikes with until Jan whistles for me to come home.  What I could have done with over 200 channels of television when I was 10 years old!  But as time and technology advance, you find yourself in the same dilemma as back in the day.  That's progress and human nature.

I still find myself struggling to find something to watch on television in the evening.  And to avoid the irritation of constant channel changing, I usually fixate on one channel.  Two years ago it was the Food Network, last year it was HGTV ... and this year it is the Discovery Channel.

I'm not sure exactly when this enterprise took shape, but it seems to me that it used to focus on nature based programming.  I suppose that it was so successful that it tried to clone itself and/or spawned a number of copycat programs, and as a result, had to re-invent itself to survive.  I just started watching it again on a regular basis last Spring, and I don't know if "Discovery" is really the most descriptive name for it anymore.  Given the programs I see, I'd rename it the "WTF Channel".

I suppose if you bent the word "discovery" enough, it would still apply.  Whatever the case, I do find most of the programs that I zero in on entertaining, although some of them are getting long of tooth.  Here's a sampling:

Deadliest Catch  This was interesting for the first season, but let's face it, how many crab pots can you see thrown over board, waves knocking crew hands down on deck, captains cussing a blue streak, et cetera before it becomes all "been there, seen that".  Seriously guys, this one has run it's course ... which the Discovery folks seem to know, because hot on its heels is ...

Swords:  Life on the Line  Move the boats from the left coast to the right coast and insert swordfish for crabs, and there's your show.  I've only watched one episode, and my one pervading thought was "when the fuck are you going to catch a fish?"  There's the usual antagonist, nicknamed "Chompers", who everyone else hates for some unknown reason, another boat captain whose name escapes me, but seems to whine a lot, particularly when he has to tow Linda Greenlaw's (she of "Perfect Storm" and tax evasion fame) crippled boat back to port for repairs, and a bunch of other stereotyped sea dogs.  They all seem mildly excited when they catch a sword fish, but everyone seems to have multiple orgasms when they land a tuna, which was apparently worth a couple of thousand dollars.  Yeah, I know, they should have named the show "Tuna: Life in the Can", but that doesn't sound very exciting.

Mythbusters  This show is running out of ideas ... fast. They tried pepping it up last season by adding some new people: "Asian guy", "Italian guy" and "girl who you thought put out a lot when you were in high school", but they haven't added much to the mix.  The best shows are when Adam and Jaime get drunk for some trumped up myth.  Jaime is especially appealing when he's tipsy.

Dirty Jobs  Definitive proof that there's only so much shit, offal and animal carcasses that you can wade through before it all looks the same.  Mike's losing his hair and developing a paunch, so the attractiveness to the lady audience is waning.  Time to hang this one up.
American Loggers  Cutting down trees.  Interesting? Not so much.

Cash Cab  Very entertaining game show.  Made even more exciting when you throw in the "when is Ben Bailey going to have an accident because he looks over his shoulder all the time" X-factor.

Pitchmen  This show was iffy with Billy Mays.  Three types of pain killers plus cocaine in your system?  No wonder you yelled all the time.  Billy, Billy Billy ...

Destroyed in Seconds  If you like wrecks, explosions and disasters, or even all three at the same time, well this is your show.  Ex-NFL'er  Ron Pitts is a doofus, but who cares?  You're there to see the wrecks, explosions and disasters!

Man Vs Wild  This is my favorite show on the Discovery Channel.  Bear Grylls is a burley, tough, he-man survivin' guy!  He totally aces out his wimpy, whiny counterpart on the sister show "Survivor Man".  His best show yet was this week, when he trekked through the Arctic wilderness and flagged down a fishing boat on the coast with a seal blubber fed signal fire.  Along the way, he pissed on his skis for better traction and forded a freezing river in his birthday suit.  Bear's never afraid to show us his junk!

So ... this is the summer of the Discovery Channel, but I've already started to flirt with a few programs on the History Channel.  After all, what defines history better than a show named "Monster Quest"?


  1. I'm not sure which network it's on but Jeff and I like River Monsters and the NatGeo version Hooked.

    I go to Jeff's to surf through his hundreds of channels to find there is nothing to watch.Me? I have 13 channels because I'm cheap.

  2. Man Vs Wild is your favorite? A completely farcical staged show?

    A show SO staged, BBC apologized because of Bear Gryllis? Discovery changed it's lead-in.

    Les Stroud at least never denied scouting an area first and coming up with plausable scenarios for them. Bear is always. "I'm so alone!!"... with his plethora of crew around him. He's always "just there" and there's no substance. Les actually is out there on his own, but somehow Les is the whiny whimpy counterpart? I'll stick with the original and realistic show, Survivorman easily.

    If your reviews are this skewed, and lacking of facts? Your opinion is essentially worthless.