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Hog Blog Horn Porn Reviews – Reality Shows And Movies On The Outdoor Channel?

February 9, 2015

When did this happen?

When did I miss the Discover-ization of the Outdoor Channel?

I get that there’s so much sameness in the hook-n-bullet TV industry that viewers are looking for that next, new thing.  How many times can you watch a fairly generic hunter, perched in a tree stand, pump his fist in the camera after slinging an arrow into a P&Y whitetail buck?  How many times can you hear some guy, covered from head to toe in sponsor logos, say, “man, that’s a nice fish!”

There have been some diversions, of course.  Randy Newberg’s Fresh Tracks program brings us real, public land, DIY, hunting for real game… as opposed to the guided (or at least carefully directed by the landowner/outfitter), private land, hunts for supplement-fed, heavily managed, often high-fenced and always trophy-quality critters we see in so many programs.  And Pig Man burst onto the scene with something no one had ever really seen before by focusing on wild hogs, not as an off-season distraction but as the focal point of his show.  He veered somewhat toward the mainstream for a while there, but with the newest season, Brian Quaca and team seem to be back in their full glory, doing what they do best.

Jim Shockey brought out Uncharted, which is a pretty cool look at hunting exotic locales and an honest effort to take the time to focus on the people of these far away places.  As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, when it comes to the script, the prose tends toward purple, and the delivery often feels forced, especially when they’re trying to impart either solemnity or grandeur.  But it also feels sort of real… not polished lines created by professional writers… and sometimes I like that.  I haven’t really seen anything else quite like it, although Where in the World is Colorado Buck had a similar concept and approach.  Unfortunately for ol’ Colorado, I don’t think he scored with the viewers (and heavy-hitting sponsors) quite like Jim Shockey.   The nature of the business…

Steve Rinella takes us on great hunts and fishing trips, with the constant focus on how those hunts turn into great eats (most of the time).  And yeah, Scott Leysath, the Sporting Chef, has been singing a similar song to Rinella for longer, but his show tends to come across more like a well-produced, PBS cooking program than outdoors television… at least to me.

But it seems like, for every one of these shows, there are three more retakes on the hunting couple motif you see in Driven, with Pat and Nicole, or The Crush with Lee and Tiffany (and I often enjoy both, partly because, and I’m just gonna say it… Tiffany Lakosky is cute as a freckle on a bunny rabbit’s nose!).

Along with it come a whole slew of efforts to recreate the concept (and staggering success) of Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector, by some group of guys who seem to think it’s cool to merge the Thug Life with the X-games to turn the hunt into some sort of adrenaline-charged frat party, talking constantly about “hit lists” and assassinations.  This model seems particularly heavily used by waterfowl hunting shows, where constant carnage seems to be the entire raison d’etre.

Hell, even the “take a vet hunting” programs have really exceeded the saturation point.  I am proud of our vets, as well as our actively serving men and women.  I’m extremely glad to know that organizations like Tim Abell’s Grateful Nation, are out there doing things like this for the vets as a show of support and thanks for their sacrifices.  But there’s only so many times you can see it before the impact sort of wears off.  Am I jaded?  Well, yeah.  But I think the point is valid.

I guess some of this makes sense, and is probably to be expected.  Outdoor television is still toddling along, barely out of its infancy.  Successful program models are still in fairly short supply, and a host of contenders are vying for a relatively small pool of sponsors.  Folks are going to emulate success.  Innovation is risky, and in a field with so many people struggling to get in, few people will be willing to take those risks.  It takes time to create real diversity, especially when the subject matter (or genre) is pretty narrow.

With all this in mind, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see these guys, particularly the Outdoor Channel, turn to the pseudo-reality genre for ideas.  Even if you live under a rock, odds are pretty good you know something about the success of the Duck Commanders.  Who wouldn’t want to cash in on the next Robertson family?  But if I’m not surprised, I’m a little disappointed.

It may have started incrementally, while I wasn’t paying much attention.  I remember when they launched Wardens, which was a little interesting at first, but it’s waned a bit as they’re running a little short of exciting material.  You can only watch so many guys get ticketed for failing to properly tag an animal, or watch a couple of yo-yos get badgered until they trip over their stories and end up confessing to some minor infraction.  At best, the show can be sort of compelling.  At its worst, I get annoyed or bored and change the channel.  Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced much of an in-between, and there’s been a lot of channel changing of late.

Another one they rolled out a little while back was Fight to Survive.  For any long-time Outdoor Life readers, do you recall the illustrated feature each month, This Happened to Me?  I usually read these, especially as a kid, because they were short and quick.  Even when they weren’t particularly exciting, I didn’t mind the minute and a half it took to knock one out.  Now, imagine those same stories stretched out over the course of a half hour, complete with hyper-dramatic narration, sappy music, and cliff-hanger commercial breaks.  I mean, yeah, I’m impressed that some of these guys survived the stuff they did, and of course each one is a cautionary tale to other outdoorsmen.  But really, I’m not going to give it a half hour of my day.

It was hard to miss the hype for Flying Wild Alaska, their reality show about a family-run, Alaskan bush pilot service.  I mean, really?  This is straight out of Discovery or NatGeo (the channel that doesn’t even deserve the full title, National Geographic), and from my brief introduction, it’s every bit as bad as anything we saw from those networks.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m absolutely sick of manufactured drama.  Sure, being a bush pilot is probably pretty cool and laced throughout with excitement and adventure.  I’ve read some accounts that are purely hair-raising, and when they happened, if there had been a camera aboard, it would probably make for some really captivating footage.  But I get the feeling that the folks who watch this are like the folks watching NASCAR or bull riding… it’s all about the possibility of a good wreck.  Unfortunately, if you think about it, a serious wreck on Flying Wild probably isn’t going to end up on your TV.  Instead, you get lots of hyperactive narration, loaded with “what-if” and something that probably serves as tension and suspense… if you’re an eight year-old.

But then, here’s where I really had to scratch my head.  Seriously, The Reluctant Outdoorsman?  Ostensibly, this is an office staffer from the Network who has no experience in the outdoors.. whatsoever.  Even if you buy the premise, it’s a stretch to imagine this being anything more than predictable.  But buying the premise is a tough sell, especially when you watch this guy’s total incompetence at everything he attempts.  In the real world, if this guy were truly a nincompoop of this level, he wouldn’t be able to get a job at McDonalds… much less at a television network.  Nobody is this clueless… and I’ve taken a lot of first timers into the field.  I was going to watch it again, just to see if the first time was just a bad experience… but halfway through, I flipped the channel.

Oh, and while it looks like the Outdoor Channel is really banking on this programming trend, I can’t lay it all at their doorstep.

Many years ago, when I lived at the beach, there was a little housekeeping company where the maids actually showed up in skimpy outfits (and reportedly, would remove certain additional items of clothing for the homeowner if he showed the appropriate level of appreciation).  This is what sprang immediately to mind when I saw the sizzle reel for the Sportsman Channel program, Hog Dawgs. If you haven’t seen this, well, just take a glance at the website.  The big photo on the home page really does tell you everything you need to know.  Yupp… sexy chicks, often scantily clad in ripped t-shirts or tank tops, ostensibly working for a hog eradication company down in Florida.   I honestly didn’t even want to watch this show.  But hey, I can’t review it if I don’t watch it.  So I did.

I’m not an expert at feral hog eradication, but I know a little (and I am acquainted with some real experts).  One thing that’s pretty sure is that chasing and catching two or three hogs on a property is not eradication.  That’s sport hunting.  And slender, shapely girls doing it in tight jeans and t-shirts… well, that’s posing for the camera.  I don’t know these women (or their management) in the real world, and maybe they really are good at what they say they do… but what I saw on that half-hour of programming convinced me that there’s only one reason for this show… and it’s not to solve the hog problem in Ocala, FL.

I often feel like I’m missing something when I see the popularity of “reality” TV these days.  I don’t understand the allure at all (even if the allure is sexy chicks getting sweaty and muddy), but folks seem to be watching.  Maybe the Outdoor Channel is on to something.  But as a viewer who does enjoy good outdoors programming, I hope this is a passing phase… just part of the growing pains of a new network in a new genre.  Because if this is here to stay, I’ll be hanging up my remote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

7 Responses to “Hog Blog Horn Porn Reviews – Reality Shows And Movies On The Outdoor Channel?”

  1. Hog Blog Horn Porn Reviews – Reality Shows And Movies On The Outdoor Channel? | AllHunt.com on February 9th, 2015 23:41

    […] Hog Blog Horn Porn Reviews – Reality Shows And Movies On The Outdoor Channel? […]

  2. David on February 10th, 2015 11:33

    My random thoughts:

    Randy Newberg’s Fresh Tracks is excellent for all the reasons you list. I am mostly a public land hunter and love to see his show. I also like the fact that he shows his failures as well as his successes.

    Not a huge Jim Shockey fan but did watch many of the Uncharted series. But it did feel a little forced at times. I stopped watching it about 3/4 way through the season. Probably won’t make a point to seek it out.

    Love Steve Rinella’s show and format. I don’t really like Scott Leysath’s show but I don’t really know why. I just don’t really enjoy it.

    Couples shows…haven’t found one that I really like. And speaking of couples, when will Hank and Holly have a show?? Seems to me, they can cover a couple of genres….couples show plus the whole Steve Rinella vibe….breaking down the meat, making all kinds of wonderful treats.

    Kind of tired of all the waterfowl shows where the focus is all about killing ducks. I would like to see more on the effort of setting up the spread. Covering what makes a particular spread better or why they set up in one spot vs. another. How many times have you had to pick up and re-adjust. Show me some more of the work that goes into it. And don’t be afraid to show the flights where everyone misses. I like to see that the hosts are human too.

  3. Phillip on February 10th, 2015 13:13

    Good stuff, Dave.

    I think the better couples shows work pretty well, as long as they’re not putting on too much pressure to make it about the relationship. It’s about hunting. That’s what we tuned in for. Well, that and to look at Tiffany. Not to sound like too much of a creeper, it’s not just that she’s nice to look at, but she’s damned good at what she does and it looks like she really loves it. If I just wanted to ogle girls, I’d watch Hog Dawgs.

    Another well-done “couples” show, by the way, is Life at Table Mountain. This one isn’t so much focused on the dynamic of the couple, though, as it is on the variety of hunts they do. Scott and Angie run Table Mountain Outfitters in Wyoming, and the show usually highlights them working with clients. I can’t say every episode is an attention-getter, but I think they do a pretty solid job overall, with some occasional, exceptional hunts/experiences. What I like best, though, is that they tend to keep it pretty real.

    Not sure about Hank and Holly. I think they may have done a little testing of those waters, at one point, but I’m not sure where it went from there. Who knows what the future may hold, though. It’s a good question for Hank or Holly to answer.

    Not sure about

  4. Joshua Stark on February 12th, 2015 15:53

    Your post here was far more entertaining than the programs I’ve tried to watch on all the channels you’ve mentioned… including NatGeo, which still actually hurts my heart a little (I thought I’d be giving my kids the same kind of great stuff I got out of the National Geographic magazines in my youth… what a terrible let-down).

    In your comments about the Reluctant Outdoorsman, I think you might have offended McDonalds: I think you got your comparison to a job in T.V. to a gig at McDonalds backwards.

    It also didn’t escape me that you linked to Hog Dawgs… twice. Perhaps what that show needs is a smooth-talking North Carolinian hog hunter to spend a few episodes showing them how it’s done.

  5. Phillip on February 13th, 2015 10:55

    Hey, Josh. Glad you enjoyed it.

    I sort of wondered who would pick up on the redundant link for Hog Dawgs. Probably should have included a disclaimer about “prurient interests”, but there ya go.

    As far as this North Carolinian, I’m generally a smoother writer than talker, especially when someone aims a camera at me. I can only imagine the depths of my lingual entanglement in the presence of, not only a television camera, but some of the young ladies from the program. There are many reasons I’m not on TV, but this would certainly be one.

    And yeah, a shame about NatGeo, as well as Discovery and The History Channel. All of these started out with such promise, and it’s sad to see where they ended up.

  6. Michelle S on March 1st, 2015 19:43

    It will continue my friend – probably continue in that direction, actually….It is all about eyeballs, so what is going to get eyeballs? If you know that answer, you are wanted at the networks 🙂

  7. Phillip on March 2nd, 2015 17:17

    I wish I had the answer, Michelle. I think I’d like to actually get paid to be part of the industry. Unfortunately, there are two problems. First, the answer is probably something I’m not going to like… like more of these reality shows, or The Outdoor Channel showing old movies every Friday night (which is actually not a terrible thing, except that there are 200 other channels showing those same old movies).

    The other problem is that I’m so busy making a living, I don’t have time to seriously pursue a change. Or maybe I’m just chicken to take the risk? Either way…

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