by BEN KROMER & r & & r & Man vs. Wild & r & (Friday, Nov. 9, at 9pm and Sunday, Nov. 11, from 11am-6pm, Discovery Channel) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & M & lt;/span & an vs. Wild is hosted by Bear Grylls. Never mind that he's ex-British Special Forces and retired after breaking his back in three places; his name is Bear Grylls. Try to think of a tougher name than that. While you're thinking, I'll tell you the name of the only other person I know who's recovered from a broken back: Batman.
Bear starts most episodes by parachuting, without supplies, into a remote location. Yes, exactly as in Rambo 2. The idea is that he has to survive in the wild until he can walk, jog or swim his way to civilization, which is usually represented by a paved road. On the way he frets (in a manly way) about wild animals, makes his own shelters from scratch, and eats things. And I mean things -- most of what Grylls puts in his mouth shouldn't be considered food: scorpions, snakes, spiders, fungus, pretty much anything he can get his hands on. And yes, once in the Australian outback, to prevent dehydration, he drank his own urine. Naturally he imparts tips about what he's consuming -- like how to avoid poison sacs when you're eating something with poison sacs. Man vs. Wild is full of this type of wisdom, and while I'm almost certain I'll never need it, I'd rather have survival tips taking up space in my brain than all the math I ever learned that involves letters standing for variables.
There's some suspension of disbelief required: Obviously Bear isn't really alone in the wild since he's got a better-outfitted camera crew with him. Though according to The Rules presented at the top of each episode, Bear and the crew don't interact unless it's a life-or-death situation. A recent segment on the BBC, however, cast doubt on how rigorously Bear and Co. follow their own rules. But to be honest, I don't care. Even renowned director Werner Herzog diddles with his documentaries for effect. Of all the various insinuations made by the Beeb's talking heads, they seemed to be missing the larger point: Did Bear really drink his own urine? Because that would be easy to fake, and the temptation to do so must have been immense. If he really did that, I won't begrudge him the occasional helping hand from his camera crew.
Band of Bloggers
Iraq War bloggers, the focus of this program, may have a bias against the people shooting at them. Despite that potential bias, they still make the mainstream media's coverage look that much more pathetic. Do newspapers even have a future? Probably not. Free weeklies? Still looking good, baby. (History Channel, Friday, Nov. 9, at 8 pm)
America's Most Smartest Model
The point of this show, presumably, is to allow viewers to feel superior to stupid models. Eventually, though, viewers must realize that even though they may be slightly smarter than the models, the models definitely do not sit around watching shows about people who have never been photographed in Armani. A paradox. (VH1, Friday, Nov. 9, at 8 pm; Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9 pm and 11 pm)
A week of the History Channel without Nazis is like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: good stuff, but still needs Nazis. This episode is about Hitler's physical ailments, his medications, and their possible effects on his mind. Q: What would Hitler be like on shrooms? A: Still pretty bad, actually. (History Channel, Monday, Nov. 12, at 11 pm)