Occasionally I'll read a survival story and marvel at the intestinal fortitude it must take to perform a task out of one's comfort zone. Consider Danny Boyle, who we last saw direct the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, is working on a film based on the ordeal of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who was forced to amputate his own arm after it became trapped under a rock. That type of decision, your arm vs. your life, is one we only discuss as part of a party game, whereas Ralston actually had to make that call
Then we have a guy like Bear Grylls, a nature--and survivalist--enthusiast who might be misguided here and there. That's not to say he's crazy; Grylls is a former British Special Forces soldier who climbed Mount Everest when he was only 23. He's an outdoorsman, or at least he's very passionate about being outdoors, and that's one of the things he tries to convey in Man vs. Wild. The show's premise is simple: Grylls is dropped into a desolate part of the world, and he has to make do with what exists on the land before he finds a more inhabited part of that area to get "rescued."
Grylls does provide some useful information in his travels. We get to see how to use a watch with the sun, which works as a compass. He illustrates the value of using one thing several different ways, such as canteen cups, animal carcasses or even the natural resources of the land. In one sequence, he stumbles upon a cave system and shows us how to use the cave's features to boil water and cook seafood. All of this is fine and good, but sometimes his enthusiasm to show the viewer what can be used to survive in the wilderness gets a little, well, out of hand.
Let's just say that for a show that's on the Discovery Channel, I've discovered a lot of things from this 10-episode run of the show's third season. I've learned how to eat undigested apples that were found in bear stool. I've also learned the benefit of killing a snake, skinning it, and using the skin to urinate into, making for a cooling system, and eventually an emergency source of water. I've also discovered how to properly cook animals like skunks, frogs, and even smaller things like slugs and snails, and the benefits of getting the intestinal trails out of them first before you ingest a possibly fatal parasite. Because eating the digestive tract of a slug is apparently gross.
While watching him do things with animals and body waste may not be the most appealing thing on television, it's certainly up there when it comes to manners of taste and common sense. There's also the matter of some of Grylls' voiceovers, which tend to overemphasize the dangers of the outdoors. I get that some people have died doing some of the things you're trying Bear, but seriously, the Discovery cafeteria likely does have a decaf option now that you're more than welcome to use, that is, assuming you don't need to put any more wolf crap in it.
But maybe some of these things are the reason why Man vs. Wild is still on the air and has a solid fan following. If eating bear-crapped apples and drinking your own urine from the skin of a snake goes against what you'd normally watch on weekly television, the alternative of deciding whether or not to cut your own arm off to save your life could be a decision you might not want to make.
Man vs. Wild arrives on DVD in an anamorphic 1.78:1 presentation, which is unspectacular. Ninety-eight percent of the video is shot on a handheld camera, either by Grylls or a camera operator on the adventures with him, so don't expect breathtaking vistas, other than some obligatory shots to "check out how cool that looks!" The image hasn't been cleaned up noticeably; it's raw, natural, and gritty, just the way Bear likes it.
Two-channel audio, which again isn't surprising considering virtually all of the action is handheld and without any impressive technical moments. Besides, if you wanted to watch Grylls skin a dead sheep in six-channel surround, then you might have bigger problems.
Ten episodes on Season Three, spread over three discs. What few extras there are appear on the third disc. There's a separate episode that highlights the first three seasons (42:35), and Grylls' earlier episodes appear to be more toned down and more informative. But give it about 15 minutes before he gets into the pee and poo and you tune out. But it's an educational first 15 minutes. Six deleted scenes follow (12:53), but they're more of the same.
The third season of Man vs. Wild gives us Bear Grylls in the raw, enthusiastic, hyperactive persona that is likely the reason he's as popular as he is. While some of what he does is on the gruesome side, sometimes-gruesome decisions have to be made to survive; whether that includes silly or exaggerated stories remains to be seen. If you're a fan of the show, there's not a lot of bonus material worthy of picking it up, but n00bs should check it out once for viewing's sake.