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Rogue Turtle Review: "Survivorman"


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Les Stroud: "Survivorman"
The Science Channel in the United States is now showing a series called "Survivorman", produced and starring Les Stroud. I have to admit that I admire this man's courage. If you haven't seen the show, watch it.

Each week, he places himself in some God-forbidden place on earth entirely by himself. He has a crew but their primary job seems to be putting him into the dangerous places, and then, one week later, picking him back up again. I hope that behind the scenes there is a little more "emergency planning" involved, but if so, it's not shown on the TV show.

Mr. Stroud does all the filming and narration for the show. He does this by having his back pack filled with over 50 pounds of camera equipment. He usually has very little in the way of survival supplies, but will have just enough to get by on. The challenge is to live through the one week ordeal in order to be picked up by his crew. During the filmed 7 days, Mr. Stroud does indeed pass on some very valuable survival tips on living off the land. Unfortunately, it's a little too contrived for me. One of the most valuable lessons a person in a survival situation can learn is how to pace yourself. Running around filming yourself cannot teach you anything. I will not EVER have 50 pounds of useless equipment with me for whatever reason, or regardless of cost.

With the artificial time constraints of 7 days built into the TV series, Mr. Stroud knows full well that if he can just hang on for 7 days, he is insured of being saved by his crew. In a true survival situation, the only time you can be sure you are safe is when room service delivers you a 6 pack. Yes, having the star of the series die of dehydration is bad for ratings. But it would get the point across really well. If you have to live off the land, don't mess around. Do it right, or die.

My other major concern with Mr. Stroud's show is he seems to play down the urgent need for finding a safe and constant source of drinkable water. In several of the episodes I have seen so far, he seems to be satisfied with an occasional sip of water each day. He doesn't seem to get serious about water until approximately day 3 or 4 of his ordeal. In my opinion, water needs to be pushed a lot higher up on the list of "absolutely have to get it done" items.

I applaud Mr. Stroud for his courage and stamina in going to places I would not like to go alone. He does so by himself (or so it seems) and never carries a weapon (not me!). His understated ability to suffer through the beginnings of dehydration and starvation is admirable. But to me, his show could be made better.

Bring along the camera crew to run the cameras for you. So what? It is no more artificial than them being a radio call away by helicopter ride. Have them carry the load, filming the actual survival things you have to do, in the proper order in which they should be done. If the film crew eats hamburgers at night, I don't care, as long a Mr. Stroud eats what he catches, like he does now. It's the self-filming that I find objectionable. He does a good job filming, don't get me wrong. But it's not right for the situation. If your life is on the line, drop the camera, use the parts you need, and move on. Even Mr. Stroud acknowledges that the psychological pressures he feels are artificial because of his back up crew.

Out of 5 possible turtle shell awards, Mr. Stroud and "Survivorman" get a 3-1/2. Have somebody else film it, and I'm sure it will go up higher. Even if he doesn't change the format, I'll still watch his show.