Tuesday, 10 June 2014

IRT Deadliest Roads, Season 2 (2011)

I visited Alaska in 2007, a trip which included a 2-day journey down the Dalton Highway (during September, so there was no snow).  It was one of the best travel experiences I've had, and I subsequently became a casual fan of the show Ice Road Truckers.  I didn't seek it out, but I'd watch it if it was on.

When I heard about this spin-off, on the other hand, I did seek it out, to the point of buying Season 2 when I wasn't able to catch it on TV.

The premise of Deadliest Roads is to take some of the truckers who normally work in the US or Canada and transplant them into other, extremely challenging trucking environments.  Season 1 had them working in the Himalayas; in this season, it's the Andes.

I should start by saying that I am under no illusions about the 'reality' part of 'reality TV'. I know there's a significant measure of dramatization included in all such shows.  That doesn't worry me.  I do dislike the 'game show' aspect of many of them, which is thankfully absent both from this and its parent show.

Anyway, this series starts with six North American truckers arriving in Bolivia to work the Yongas Road, often referred to as the 'Death Road', a single-lane, cliffside dirt road that claims about 300 lives per year.  They'll also tackle similarly dangerous roads in Peru, later in the season, most of them not designed for the large trucks they'll be driving.

The truckers are in three teams of two: it's expected that one person drives and the other acts as a spotter, checking the side of the truck the driver can't see, or getting out to provide guidance in especially sticky situations.  The teams range from 20-year veterans to rookies who've only ever driven in urban environments before.

As might be expected, the show's makers have chosen people with larger-than-normal personalities, and you'll soon grow to like or loathe each of them.  You can be sure of seeing the ones you dislike come unstuck at some point, though: this is not a show that is short on schadenfreude.

There's lots of stunning scenery, some interesting glimpses of life in a very different part of the world, and lots of trucks getting stuck, or nearly-but-not-quite-falling off cliffs.  It's quite an entertaining bit of nonsense, really.

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