There's something missing from this season's Ice Road Truckers. Despite adding new dangers -- the Arctic Ocean, even colder temps, higher speeds -- the second season of the show is lacking the punch the first season possessed.
Last night's episode featured as many scenes of truckers waiting around as it did actual loading, driving and unloading. There's also no real tension between drivers. Hugh "Polar Bear" Rowland used to be the boss of Drew Sherwood and Rick Yemm. No longer the case. Hugh, Drew and Rick all work for corporations with boring bosses (Reality TV meets real life, I suppose).
We also don't have a homebase feeling. Yellowknife, Canada, last season was a discernable city. It had a few tall buildings, bars, Days Inns and recognizable roads. The new homebase of Inuvik has 3,484 residents (Yellowknife has more than four times that). When the show's premise is about taking big machinery parts from civilization to a remote outpost, it doesn't work as well when you get the feeling you're just shuttling goods from one outpost to another.
And most importantly, there's no money meter, and hence, no way to value the work. we know Rick Yemm leaves "hundreds" of dollars on the table when he cracks his oil pan on the road, but we don't know exactly how much of a hole that puts him in and which end of the "hundreds" of dollars scale are talking. I want to know how much each load is worth.
Plus, there are only four main characters (or at least those from last season) and a bevy of people who just sort of show up like Eric Dufresne (pictured) and Bear Swensen. I do like the idea of the drivers going to a diverse set of locales, like Tuktoyaktuk, population 870 and most famous for hosting the the Molson Ice Beach Party in 1995. There's also the town of Mallik, where gas hydrate fields (gas hydrate is really condensed methane energy) need supplies and the ice-locked Wurmlinger barge, which houses scientists and engineers.
Not as sexy as diamond mines, but riding along the Arctic Ocean, and seeing frozen tugboats and barges along the way is an improvement. And the demise of Drew Sherwood -- from truck drive to forklift operator -- is humiliatingly good.
The oddest element of last night's show -- a turned-over abandoned truck -- led to speculation about drinking and driving on the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road. I couldn't imagine somebody drinking on the job on the Northwestern of Deadliest Catch, which makes this a sober reminder that this job ain't too tough. Or at least, not that much more taxing than what the truckers deal with on I-95 daily.
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Klick of the Day
I spent last week at our L.A. office, which also houses The Price is Right. Worst bid ever.