Gold Rush brings humor, while Jungle Gold offers darker look at mining

Mountains of debt and a willingness to put it all on the line are about the only things the crews have in common on Discovery Channel's Gold Rush and Jungle Gold.

Friday nights are a night of gold on the Discovery Channel, with Gold Rush starting off the evening, followed by the channel’s latest golden venture, Jungle Gold. But, the two shows have little in common, other than the basic quest for gold to pay off mountains of debt.

The Hoffmans kicked off the fascination with gold mining for a lot of viewers. Not only is the Hoffman crew hoping to hit it big and alleviate all of their financial problems, as they have discussed with candor since Season One, they have made the pursuit of the American Dream a big part of their adventure in Alaska and in the Klondike. Fans have connected with that sentiment, no doubt, and have cheered them on as winners in spirit and attitude, even as they have consistently failed monetarily. Everyone, as they say, loves an underdog.

Gold Mining Can Be Deadly

Jungle Gold has a different vibe than Gold Rush. While people enjoy the soap opera that is the Hoffmans-Fred-Parker triangle—and, let’s face it, there is a lot to laugh at each week on Gold RushJungle Gold is a darker, more cynical, more dangerous, potentially deadly look at gold mining. It’s unlikely that the Hoffmans are going to meet with armed claim jumpers in the Klondike; it’s unlikely that Scott and George won’t in Ghana. Mining in Ghana has the grand lure of profitability to it, with an almost guaranteed bet of striking it rich; there is a true gold rush mentality and actuality going on in that area at this time. But, getting in there and getting the gold means that one must fight not just the elements (although that is one of the more frustrating aspects of it), but literally the miners around them. There are guns. There are machetes. And, there are people who truly do not care to use them.

Jungle Gold, in short, is a scary look at the quest for gold.

Why We Love Watching the Hoffmans

Last night, on “The Wrong Claim,” Todd Hoffman said, “I thought we were done looking like idiots, but, nope, we’ve still got a little bit of that to go on our journey to become miners.” But, let’s be honest: It’s mistakes like drilling on the wrong claim that make us want to come back to see the Hoffmans again and again.

They make us laugh—and that makes us cheer for them.

Scott and George, on the other hand, their journey makes our eyes widen and, at times, our hearts stop, just waiting to see what they are going to do when faced with yet another Ghana danger. They have wives. They have kids. They are laying it all on the line—including their own well-beings—to make the money they need to take care of their families. They don’t make us laugh; they make us wonder and worry. Will that be enough to bring us back to this new show again and again? It's hard to say, but Jungle Gold does seem to be a good balance with Gold Rush on Friday nights.

Stay tuned.

Gold Rush airs on the Discovery Channel on Friday nights at 9/8c, followed by Jungle Gold at 10/9c.

Image: Discovery Channel