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 - driving a truck across a virtual skating rink - not easy) ice that could buckle at any moment (especially given the weight of both the truck and cargo) and roads that can simply vanish due to blowing and drifting snow.
On top of that, there also the matter of the sub-zero temperatures (doing work on the truck is not pleasant in -30F in the middle of nowhere), long hours and desolate, lonely (not surprisingly, as few people are brave enough to even drive the route in the first place) routes. Not only is it potentially a dirty job - it's an insane job. Calling this "hardcore" doesn't begin to do it justice.
While last season saw the trucks going through increasingly brutal territory, the third season - as if things weren't difficult enough - ups the stakes once again. This time around, the truckers are hauling supplies to a gas pipeline facility in the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in Alaska. They have to haul more than 6,000 loads from Fairbanks up to Prudhoe Bay, and the route is so bad and so nasty that the truckers can earn the equivalent of hazard pay - up to $120,000 (some describe it as the "dash for cash.")
The series does a terrific job following the drivers along on the route, but what it also gets quite right is the preparation, as we see the different tasks that the drivers can be faced with, the loads being prepped to haul out and more, such as the DOT crews (given the importance of the oil industry to the state, the DOT workers are constantly trying their best to keep the ice roads intact so that supplies can go through) from the state having to do extensive work to prep the ice road before the trucks head out. Filling up the tank of a big rig ain't cheap, either - as is noted early in episode 4, doing so can cost nearly a grand (and there's no service stations for a long time, nor is there any help nearby if the tank goes empty.)
This time around, driver Jack Jesse takes an extremely valuable and heavy load - but one that hangs far off the sides of the car and into the oncoming lanes - the task requires having other, "pilot" cars acting as their eyes and ears. Given the size of the load, climbing hills requires enough momentum, but not too much momentum so that the car can't stop on the way down the hill - and when there's a stretch this time around called the "Rollercoaster", handling is more than a little important.
On the Dalton route that the truckers have to face this time around, the Rollercoaster is bad enough - after that, there's a stretch known for avalanches (in the first episode, one trucker finds that an avalanche had just occurred at a point not long before) and another over the frozen ocean. The truckers this season include Jack Jessee (a 38-year-old "heavy hauler"), Lisa Kelly (a 28-year-old former school bus driver and the youngest female this year) and vet George Spears.
Everything that has a beginning has an end, and as the season comes to a close - after polar bears, avalanches, whiteouts, technical trouble and other assorted dangers - the truckers push it to the limit. This means driving over ice roads that are gradually thawing (driver Jack Jessee must drive over the frozen waters of the ocean - which is starting to thaw - 70 miles to a remote island) and turning even slicker and more treacherous.
Overall, this remains a fascinating series in the third round, as the drivers are all engaging personalities, 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 to deliver supplies across the frozen landscape.
• Season 3
27 3-01 31/May/09 Deadliest Ice Road
28 3-02 07/Jun/09 Rookie Run
29 3-03 14/Jun/09 Canadian Invasion
30 3-04 21/Jun/09 Blinding Whiteout
31 3-05 28/Jun/09 Accident Alley
32 3-06 05/Jul/09 Arctic Ice
33 3-07 12/Jul/09 Wicked Weather
34 3-08 19/Jul/09 Killer Pass
35 3-09 26/Jul/09 Turn and Burn
36 3-10 02/Aug/09 Ocean Run
37 3-11 09/Aug/09 Busted Parts & Breakdowns
38 3-12 16/Aug/09 Race for the Finish
39 3-13 23/Aug/09 Arctic Thaw
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: While prior sets have included featurettes and deleted scenes, this set only provides just about thirty minutes worth of deleted scenes. Some of the footage provides a bit of tension, drama or background, but other clips - while interesting - were rightly dropped to keep the pacing of the episodes tight.
Final Thoughts: "Ice Road Truckers" once again provides a thrilling journey into the cold, icy wilds as truckers brave unbelievably fierce conditions and incredible obstacles in order to deliver needed materials. The DVD set provides very good audio/video quality, but minimal supplements. Recommended.