Ah, the reminders a “review” episode such as the Gold Rush special, “The Long Road,” can bring to the surface.
It certainly has been a long road for the Hoffman gang over the last two seasons, that is certain. It is hard to say just how far down the road they have actually travelled. Yes, they got a lot more gold in Season Two than in Season One, but was Season Two actually a success? Each miner on the Hoffman crew received gold worth about $8,000 at the time—a good payday for all of that hard work, all that time away from home, away from family? Seems a bit on the meager side, but, of course, “success” is relative. The “success” the Hoffmans and company may be finding—and may have been shooting for all along—may well be in television gold, not gold nuggets. What are they really making over a season? Who knows, but they have to be racking up more than $8,000 each.
Dakota Fred Not Making Friends with Viewers
There has been much debate—contentious, unfriendly, heated debate in many instances—regarding miner “Dakota” Fred Hurt. Whether or not he is a “claim jumper” has been rehashed over and over and, in truth, probably does not really matter in terms of his likeability in TV Land. Last night’s look back reminded viewers who may have forgotten just how nasty he was when he took over the claim at Porcupine Creek. For many, it may not have been the issue of Fred’s purchasing the claim—Todd missed his lease payment, the owner put it up for sale, and Fred bought it in a legal transaction. Business is business to that point. But, Fred’s glee over putting the Hoffmans off the claim and making it his was, well, distasteful to watch. And, he never failed to turn the knife when he could, ripping out the Hoffman’s admittedly pitiful washplant with gusto; gloating and laughing along with his son when he found 18.9 ounces in seven days—four more ounces than the Hoffmans mined all season; and making fun of Jack as he brought gold-rich material out of the glory hole. “If Jack were here, he’d be jealous,” Fred said, then holding his nose and mocking Jack, speaking in a high-pitched voice as he said, “No guts, no glory.”
Not hard to understand why fans are not crazy about Dakota Fred.
But, on the Other Side
However, on the other side of the matter, it’s not hard to figure out why Dakota Fred is not crazy about the Hoffman crew. When he was sent in by the previous claim owner to help the laughably inexperienced “gold miners” learn a little something about getting gold out of a claim, they were inexcusably boorish in their behavior. They clashed with Dakota Fred from the moment he stepped on the claim, not wanting to be helped, not wanting to learn, and thinking they were in charge. James, who believes himself to be an engineer extraordinaire, not to be questioned by anyone, actually became violent, pushing Fred and having to be pulled off of him. Of all of them, Todd was the least reactive toward Dakota Fred, but, as the “leader” of the bunch, he should have controlled his team better, and not allowed them to act that way. Todd should have realized how much he and his fellow “miners” did not know, and that they had an opportunity to learn something if they would just shut up and listen. So, when you look at it from that angle, it’s not surprising that Fred seemed to relish getting to announce to the Hoffman crew, “The very good news is, I own the Porcupine Creek claim, and the bad news is, I intend to mine that thing this year.”
And, honestly, it’s hard to blame him for not being a fan of the Hoffmans.
Still, perhaps this year he could turn the tide more in his favor with the fans if he will just forget about the Hoffmans. The Hoffmans are in the Klondike; Fred’s still at Porcupine Creek. Yes, of course, the show is going to highlight the ongoing “competition” between the two mining operations, but if Fred’s outfit focuses on what they are doing instead of how what they are doing could be getting under the Hoffman’s skin, maybe fans—some of them, at least—will give him another chance.
But, oh, if he finds the “mother lode” anywhere near that glory hole … watch out.
Gold Rush: Do or Die airs on the Discovery Channel on Friday, October 26, at 7:30 p.m. E/P. The regular season of Gold Rush then begins, with the season premiere airing at 9:00 p.m.
Image: Discovery Channel