Monday, July 23, 2007

"Man vs Wild" Recap & Review - "Scotland"

Man vs. Wild – "Scotland"
Original Air date: July 20, 2007
[Submitted by: Tiffiny F.]

From the jungles of Ecuador last week to the frozen Scottish highlands of this week’s Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls is no stranger to extremes. However, I am not as well-conditioned to them, so watching this episode—complete with skinning a rotten deer carcass, rabbit neck-breaking, and using a urine-filled water bottle for warmth—was rather difficult for me at times.

Bear begins by parachuting onto a mountain in the frozen highlands from 2500 feet because of heavy cloud cover. He normally parachutes from 10,000 feet, so this won’t be easy. But he makes it safely (because, you know, he’s Bear Grylls) and begins his chilly descent down the mountain towards the boggy heathered valleys below. The snowpack is certainly safe enough to traverse, but daylight is already fading and Bear needs to make shelter—or find one—fast. The landscape is devoid of anything helpful, but Bear finds one thing of use at the bottom of a ravine…a dead deer. The deer has been dead long enough to smell putrid, so Bear knows he can’t eat it, but he CAN fashion a blanket of sorts using the hide of the deer. Watching him rip the hide from the muscle beneath was enough to remind me of why I don’t hunt—skinning animals is not for the faint of heart. Bear grabs his deer hide blanket and tucks himself away in a small crack in the rocks, sheltered from the howling winds and blowing snow. We get our first “night vision” shot of the show (those creep me out, by the way) when Bear tells us he’s really cold AND needs to pee. So he decides to kill two birds with one stone and pee into his water bottle to use as a “hot water bottle” of sorts. I wasn’t sure if that was brilliant or just disgusting. I’m still not sure what I think.

Day Two arrives and the skies are cloudy and gray, but this is Scotland, so that’s to be expected I suppose. It’s a pretty uneventful morning for Bear; he makes good progress down the mountain and has reached the valley with plenty of daylight left. I guess he gets bored, because he decides to demonstrate how to get out of a peat bog safely. Let me say this for peat bogs: foul. Utterly foul places, tar-like, full of dead carcasses from unfortunate animals that have fallen into them and couldn’t get out. And Bear voluntarily jumped into one, naked save for his boxer shorts. At least now I know how to get out of a peat bog (which, for the record, is pretty similar to escaping from quicksand; don’t panic, move slowly towards the edge, and pull yourself out as soon as you can). Even after the little bog adventure, Bear has time to build a pretty snazzy shelter from pine boughs and set snares for a bunny breakfast. He builds a fire, has some pine needle tea and turns in for the night.

It’s early morning of Day Three, and we have a hungry Bear on our hands. He hasn’t managed to catch any rabbits in his snares, but he does see one he can catch easily. Bear holds up his prize, and then…violently twists it, breaking its neck. Circle of life, right? Well, I would never survive in the wild if I had to rely on killing bunnies with my bare hands…I’m a softie. After a yummy breakfast of BBQ’d bunny, Bear takes off and spots a small stone house not far off in the distance. However, there is a raging, frigid river between him and the house. He shimmies across the river via a fallen pine tree (very slowly, as he reminds us of the potential damage the rough log could do to his “manhood”), only to find the house empty of anything useful. It’s a bummer for Bear, but as he leaves the house, he sees a pine farm nearby. After blazing his own trail through the pine farm, he comes upon a logging road and is on his way back to civilization.

There was a little too much dead animal skinning and bunny killing action in this episode for my tastes; if you’re a vegetarian or hard-core animal rights person, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it either. But the added benefit of seeing Bear nearly nude helps make up for it. A little.

Grade: C+

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