"Out of the Wild: Venezuela": "Survivor" Meets "I Shouldn't Be Alive"

For days now I’ve been pinned by a boulder of work and only last night realized I had to saw off my arm like that (dubiously motivated) Aaron Ralston dude in 127 Hours . . . . So I watched the second episode of Out of the Wild: Venezuela, my new favorite show. (In fact the only show I’m watching right now. Everything else seems awful. Even Wrong Turn 2, featuring reality TV show contestants attacked by cannibals, was a disappointment.) But Out of the Wild most definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s like Survivor meets I Shouldn’t Be Alive.  (I’ve seen the first two episodes in the last week, on Discovery Channel.) Here’s the set-up: A motley crew of volunteers get choppered down to an awesome highland plateau near Angel Falls in Venezuela, then have to hike out of the jungle, bitten by mosquitos, eating snakes for breakfast, munching on tropical plants, and generally looking tired, grouchy, and sodden. There’s no prize money. They have a GPS thingy they can press if they want to give up, and a chopper will come swoop them away. No hokey teams, no immunity idols. I’ve only seen Survivor once but I’ve seen clips of later shows, which looked more like bikini shoots. This one is no babe parade. They all look a little bedraggled and swarthy, even the blonde. Two of the guys hate each other and after only a few days are ready for some serious manslaughter, if not aggravated homicide. One of them would drive me up the wall, I can tell. But he’s the one catching the snakes for breakfast, so maybe I’d make nice. It’s one of the few ‘reality’ shows where they actually do look in physical danger. It’s almost cruel to watch them, hungry and bitten and miserable. But the landscape is gorgeous and dramatic, too. What’s not to like?

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