After the success of "Deadliest Catch", a series of additional shows covering extremely difficult jobs popped up on various cable channels. All of the shows are incredibly intense and compelling, but there are certainly quite a few edge-of-your-seat moments in "Ice Road Truckers". The series, which airs on the History Channel, focuses on a band of truck drivers who drive massive rigs across frozen wasteland to haul vital supplies off to remote areas. Fox has apparently even gotten the rights from the History Channel to do a feature film based upon the series.
However, the issue is that they do not haul these supplies over roads a lot of the time. Instead, they haul them over "ice roads", which are not roads at all, but vast sheets of (potentially slick) ice that could buckle at any moment (especially given the weight of both the truck and cargo.) There's also the matter of the sub-zero temperatures, long hours and desolate, lonely routes. Not only is it potentially a dirty job - it's an insane job.
As remarkably difficult as the treks in the first season were, the second season of the series has more difficult tasks in store for the drivers, as the job takes them even further North, inside the Arctic circle. Making matters even more dangerous is the fact that some of the "ice roads" that will make up the route that the truckers have to take are actually parts of the Arctic Ocean, just frozen over.
While there is a member of the support staff who goes ahead to check the depth of the ice at points along the way, the ice is still quite subject to changes in temperature and pressure, as well as any changes in current in the water under the ice (as we see in the episode "The Big Thaw", a warmer spell causes a panicked rush to move equipment before the ice roads start to melt. Drivers have to carry items on their trucks that weigh as much as tens of thousands of pounds, and when the ice layer starts weakening, the tension grows extremely quickly.)
This season on the series, the truckers - Alex, Hugh, Drew, and Rick from the first season, as well as Bear and Eric - head towards a natural gas drilling operation, carrying rig tools and other supplies for a site that many think could contain a a massive reserve of the fuel. However, getting there not only requires driving over the ice, but driving in the midst of blizzards and temps as low as 35-50 below zero. There are no markers to show how much longer the truckers have to go, and if they are stranded by a flat tire or other problem, help is a long way away.
Overall, this remains a fascinating series in the second season, as the drivers are all characters, and they have to face not only brutally difficult weather conditions on their drives, but seemingly one crisis after another as they head out across the ice.
14. 2- 1 8 Jun 08 Edge of the Earth
15. 2- 2 15 Jun 08 Mechanical Mayhem
16. 2- 3 22 Jun 08 The Big Blizzard
17. 2- 4 29 Jun 08 Arctic Whiteout
18. 2- 5 6 Jul 08 Lost on the Ice
19. 2- 6 13 Jul 08 Hundred Ton Haul
20. 2- 7 20 Jul 08 Man Down
21. 2- 8 27 Jul 08 A Trucker's Farewell
22. 2- 9 3 Aug 08 A Rookie Fumbles
23. 2-10 10 Aug 08 Highway Maggots
24. 2-11 17 Aug 08 Man vs. Ice
25. 2-12 24 Aug 08 The Big Thaw
31 Aug 08 Road To The Finale (Special)
27. 2-14 7 Sep 08 The World Crumbles
VIDEO: Episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen by the History Channel. The transfers for both episodes are quite good, as the image remained crisp and detailed throughout most of the running time. A couple of slight instances of artifacting were spotted, but there were no additional concerns. Colors appeared accurately presented and nicely saturated. Overall, these episodes looked slightly better than broadcast quality.
SOUND:The show's stereo soundtrack remained crisp and clean throughout, with well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: "About the Ice Road" is broken into several sections and runs a little under 10 minutes. This featurette provides a basic overview of the creation of the ice roads and driving on different terrains. "Life in Northern Canada" is a look at the difficulties in the unbelievably harsh climate, including the inability to run sewage lines underground due to the permafrost. We also get a "Meet the Truckers" featurette and two shorter featurettes regarding dangers on the ice roads and Arctic animals.
"Off the Ice Season 2" is a special episode where the truckers sit down and discuss the previous season, along with highlights. In my review of the separate release of "Ice Road Truckers: On & Off The Ice" (which contains "Off The Ice 1 and 2") I wondered why the extras weren't included on the season sets. Well, oddly enough, they are. The documentary is enjoyable viewing once, but doesn't provide enough insights to warrant repeat viewing. "The Road to Season 2" is an additional special episode that recaps the first season and sets up the second season.
Final Thoughts: "Ice Road Truckers" is a thrilling look into an incredibly intense, white-knuckle job that happens to take place in brutally cold conditions. The second season DVD set provides very good audio/video quality, as well as a decent set of extra features. Recommended.