TV Highlights

What was on Thursday 28th August

Ultimate Survival Alaska

National Geographic - 10pm

Who's in it?

Mountaineers, soldiers, athletes and "woodsmen" (ie, hard-as-nails-men) hit the dazzling white wilderness of Alaska for a race like no other.

In a nutshell

The word "survivalist" usually brings to mind a mad-eyed hick in some Deep South shack, surrounded by tinned food and shotguns, communicating only through Internet forum posts on the New World Order and how best to live solely on squirrels. But, thanks to this show, we now know "survivalism" is an actual thing that non-crazy people practice. Well, we say non-crazy – they're racing each other across the frozen hellscape of the Alaskan frontier, for kicks. That's slightly bonkers, all things considered.

With names like Dallas, Grady, Tyler and Yote, these guys and gals meant business as they trudged out in last night's opening episode. Their first task: an epic dog sled race across a glacier. This meant plenty of whooshing overhead shots of this almost alien world, and the obligatory close ups of grizzled, determined humans punishing their bodies in a way only Bear Grylls would think remotely appropriate or necessary. Better them than us, frankly.

What's the verdict?

More than living up to its gung-ho title, Ultimate Survival Alaska is adrenaline-pumping entertainment of the highest order. And to think they still have brown bears, rockslides and a place called "Hell's Gate" to face in future episodes...

4/5

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07-07-2011