Monday, July 6, 2009

Ice Road Truckers: Cool Summer Viewing

Photos from
I’m not big into “reality” competition shows. However, there is one show that is based in reality, has somewhat of a competition, but the star of the show is not just the people in it, it’s the ice road far north in Canada and Alaska. The series is called ”Ice Road Truckers (History) and it is interesting, edge-of-your-seat television.

The premise of the show may sound rather dull – drivers navigate the ice roads of the north in order to deliver supplies to those that work in the frozen tundra, in places like gas drilling sites and oil fields. Personally, I don’t like driving on Ohio roads in my 4 wheel drive car when we get a few inches of snow, so I didn’t think I would enjoy watching a bunch of truck drivers navigate icy roads for a living. But when I began watching the show mid-season in season two, I was surprised that I quickly became hooked. There was something about watching these guys barrel down roads made of nothing but ice cracking underneath them, separating them from water, that was compelling. Equally compelling was watching some of the drivers – like Rick Yemm – self-destruct their careers in the process, or Alex Debogorski, who had to cut his driving season short due to health reasons. It seems that each driver had just a little bit of crazy in them, after all, a person just can’t have all their faculties if they want to drive in such hospitable conditions – can they?

In season three, the show has moved from the ice roads of Canada to Alaska Route 11, also known as the Dalton Highway. This 500 mile stretch of road is the major connector between Fairbanks and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. There seems to be much more danger than on the “simple” ice roads, as these drives have to contend with avalanches, white outs and blizzard conditions, not to mention steep grades and tight turns. The hazards are great and death lurks around every corner. Carlisle Transportation is the company responsible for the hauling of freight to Prudhoe Bay, and the drivers can earn some big money hauling these loads, the bigger and heavier the better. Two of the Canadian drivers from season one and two – Alex Debogorski (who is now recovered from his health problem) and Hugh Rowland – have decided to try their hand at the Dalton. Both find themselves somewhat humbled, yet somewhat annoyed, when they have to prove themselves on this new road, including having to go through a simulator in order to show they have the skills to tackle the tough roads. In both cases, they have difficulties.

The show adds a new twist this season with the addition of a woman behind the wheel, Lisa Kelly, who knows she has to pull her weight, figuratively and literally, in order to keep up with the "boys". She’s a bit of a risk taker, and I find myself hoping that she doesn’t bite off more than she can chew.

The same goes for Canadian transplants Hugh and Alex, who don’t seem to have complete respect for The Dalton quite yet. These two seem to be rather easy going but there is something slightly crazy about them – they both have a laugh that sounds like driving in the cold has made them just a little nutty. In a strange way, it is highly entertaining.

The star of the show – The Dalton – is an amazing twisting, turning, and hilly road, which goes through some beautiful, yet deadly dangerous terrain. This is what brings such tension to the show – one never knows what conditions the drivers will have to face. Personally, I can’t fathom why anyone would want to drive in conditions such as this, and this may be the thing that actually draws me to the show.

Despite the fact that the premise of each episode is the same – driver gets a load to haul, driver has a problem with weather/their truck/their load, driver forges on – it’s still very interesting to see how they go about their work and how different they are in their work habits. I am sure many people never think about how vital these truckers are in order to support everyone’s need for fuel such as natural gas and oil, and what risks these drivers take with each delivery. But ”Ice Road Truckers" is more than just a show about truck drivers. It’s an education about how industry must operate in some of the world’s most inhospitable climates, and how to what lengths some people will go in order to earn a living. It’s an action packed hour that goes by quickly. If you are feeling the heat in your job, watch an episode of Ice Road Truckers, you may appreciate your career choice all the more.

Ice Road Truckers, Season 3 Episode 5 Highlights

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Thanks for the heads-up on this "cool" (pardon the pun, I couldn't help myself) show. It's a wonderful respite, albeit vicariously, from the oppressive heat in our part of the world. I just added this show to my TiVo Season Pass.