Season One of Mountain Men is over.
What a colossal waste of an opportunity for a great show.
My hopes were high from the very beginning for this show. It could have been a modern-day Alone in the Wilderness. Mountain Men could have actually taken three individuals living in various mountain areas, and shown viewers what it is like to live “off-the-grid” to varying extents. It could have presented viewers with real situations and real people. It could have even—gasp—offered viewers some knowledge that they could have walked away with after each 60-minute sitting, something that was real and perhaps even helpful to someone living in another situation, one not necessarily as extreme or drastic as the ones in which these three were said to reside.
Instead, producers of Mountain Men presented viewers with a campy farce each week, making its stars into presumable caricatures of themselves and insulting fans with gun switches; having Marty's gun disappear into thin air on more than one occasion; and, really, coming up with some of the most contrived, over-the-top, “mountain men” drama a roomful of never-owned-a-gun writers could dream up for the small screen.
Could Marty, Tom and Eustace be the “real deal?” They could be, but how would anyone watching this show know? According to the History Channel, great oudoorsman Eustace is unaware of how to use the word "misfire" appropriately (no, for the final time, it does NOT mean "failure to achieve desired results" in the presented situation)--is that the "real deal?" And, are viewers at fault if they laugh and point out this and many other production misfires--yes, failures to achieve desired results--throughout the show?
Of course they aren't; the producers are.
Reality Programming CAN Be Great
There are some excellent reality shows out there these days, featuring real people doing real things. Swamp People, also on the History Channel, comes to mind. For Alaska living, Flying Wild Alaska (Discovery Channel) is good, as is Alaska: The Last Frontier (Discovery Channel). Dual Survival (Discovery Channel) gives viewers some real knowledge for potential life-threatening situations. And, of course, the king of all things-most-of-us-could-never-do reality shows, Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel), consistently gives people good reality television. Are any of these “production free,” with no off-camera manipulation of scenes or TV magic in editing? No, of course not. But, they are well-done shows, and they respect not only the stars, but the fans, as well, by striving to give viewers shows that, in the world of reality television, are realistic. 100% “real,” maybe not; but realistic, yes.
Mountain Men could have been one of those shows; it definitely is not.
Season Two of Mountain Men will bring back Marty, Tom and Eustace, and will add a new “mountain man” to the gang. Perhaps, given the not-so-impressive feedback the show has received overall, the producers for this History Channel show will strive to give viewers something better next go around. If not, it will still probably be one of the funniest hours on television, intentional or otherwise. Until then, let’s just hope that Eustace made it back to Turtle Island Preserve without being overtaken by that overwhelming brushfire he encountered on his way into Boone.