Reality Bites: Ice Cold Gold

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There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

While researching the next show for "Reality Bites" (i.e. channel surfing after a few Stone IPAs), I came across Ice Cold Gold, Animal Planet's show about 21st century prospectors braving the harsh terrain of Greenland in a quest for gold, rubies, sapphires, and the Jade Monkey (probably).

I admit to being a bit dubious. For while you'd assume modern gold-hunters (not to be confused with gold "diggers") would possess advanced technology like seismic imaging to aid them in their search (spoiler warning: they don't), it isn't as if The Atlantic is writing about the new wave of gold millionaires.

The Discovery.com web site describes these men as "ballsy," while the actual press release uses the word "intrepid." The Animal Planet site for the show says they're "spirited." Without seeing a single minute of the program, I'm suggesting another word: "assholes."

The premise is "Seven miners, two months, and America's final frontier." They're mining in *space?* Kick ass. No, wait, it's ... Greenland? How is Greenland "America's final frontier?" We must be talking about America as in "North," not "United States of." More socialist Animal Planet tree hugger bullshit.

In The Episode I Watched, Eric (the geologist) and Josh (the "hard rock miner," I'm going by the Wikipedia page here) are dropped off behind the Eqi glacier on the Greenland Ice Sheet to prospect for precious gold. They have two weeks before the end of mining season, because above the Arctic Circle there actually is a "mining season." We're constantly reminded, amid howling winds and sudden storms, that the pair is in an extremely dangerous situation. And it's true, minus the film crew and support team, they're like modern day frontiersmen.

Meanwhile, the five members of the dredge team are 450 miles south, inspecting the Upper Lake for rubies. Unfortunately, Chad [expletive deleted] up and the dredge is not on their actual claim. As Sallah might say, "They're digging in the wrong place." Except they're not actually digging yet. They do, however, have to haul the 500-lb dredge a half mile back the way they came.

As you can imagine, no one is happy about this.

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John (prospector) and Chad (dredger) are not the most motivated of fellows, much to everyone else's consternation. Americo (driller) is the biggest dude present, and also complains the most. Well, him or "Gator" (excavation expert). The only thing funnier than the poorly acted indignation among the dredge team are the swarming bugs that end up in everybody's mouths. I guess that satisfies the network's minimum animal requirement.

They finally get the dredge in the water, and the possibility that a guy in a wetsuit manning a hose in two feet of water might, I don't know, drown is presented as a serious problem. A day and a half's work yields one [maybe] ruby about the size of my thumbnail. Totally worth it, he said sarcastically. Then again, I'm not an "excavation expert," so what do I know?

Meanwhile, back on the glacier, "Winter is looming." Or so the narrator ominously reminds us. Aside from the convenient piggybacking on Game of Thrones, it points out some unpleasant environmental realities. The most pressing being death by freezing, but there's a bigger picture. For as the duo points out, the Eqi ice sheet covered the land they're hiking on not ten years ago. Now, it's open for any crazy persons looking to strike it rich.

Give human beings credit, they'll find a way to make a buck out of anything, even the impending death of their species. *Especially* that.

But never mind that now: "Quartz! Copper! Pyrite!" Josh thinks the signs are promising that they're in the Gold Zone. As proof, he proudly displays a few flakes that wouldn't cover one of Li'l way. "That mountain could be full of gold." But we'll have to wait until the season finale to find out for sure.

By my highly scientific (Google search) count, there are at least six gold prospecting shows currently on TV. Certainly, most of the current crop are somewhat more sophisticated than Spur from The Man From Snowy River, but not much. And I bet none of them can make wallaby stew, either.

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