Monday, February 23, 2015

The Best of Reality TV

On several occasions, I've reviewed shows that are essentially classified as "reality TV," even though they are anything but what people think of when you say "reality TV." Today, I'm going to give a quick rundown of some of the best shows out there that might interest you.

Alaska State Troopers... This show is somewhat similar to COPS, only it includes the added challenges of being in Alaska. The result is a fascinating look into law enforcement in some of the harshest terrain in the world. What's more, the officers they follow really prove themselves to be some of the best examples of how law enforcement is done right. These are not badge-heavy gunslingers, they are true professionals who spend as much of their time helping people as they do stopping criminals... or angry moose.

Booze Traveler... This is a surprisingly interesting show. Boston drunk Jack Maxwell travels the world looking for interesting local drinks in various countries. In the process, we learn a bit about the history of alcohol, we learn a lot about the culture of the countries he visits, and we see some really cool drinks that get you checking out the internet to see if you can order them... and I'm not even a drinker. Hmm.

Chopped... This is one of the best cooking shows in a long time. Essentially, host Ted Allen pits four chefs against each other as they cook meals using mystery baskets of food items. Sometimes, these items are normal, like chicken cutlets. Other times, they are things you (and the chefs) have never heard of. The coolest of these episodes, by the way, involves a series of episodes using children and then teenage chefs. These kids are amazingly talented and they really represent themselves in a way that should make everyone proud.

Underworld/Drugs Inc.... I have no idea how National Geographic Channel gets their access, but these two related shows are amazing. They literally ride along with drug dealers, drug kingpins, cartel killers, guys looking to rob drug dealers, cops, DEA and anyone else who is part of the story of the underworld of drugs, people smuggling, gun smuggling and counterfeit products. The reality presented by these people is amazing, especially as it differs so much from the official story. If you want to understand what is really going on in the war on drugs, watch this show.

Carnival Eats... This show is amazing. More so than any other show on the Food Channel, this show highlights the amazing combinations of food that you've never thought of before, but which you now cannot live without trying. "They deep fried what???!!! How far is the Alabama County Fair from my house?!" This show is the ultimate in food porn.

Buying "___"... This is a real estate show, but so much more. Coming in several flavors like "Buying the Beach," "Buying Alaska," "Buying the Bayou" and "Buying Hawaii," this show gives you a really cool sense of what the real estate is like in other "exotic" parts of the country. This is where I learned that Cajuns drink out of dirty rivers, Alaskans are nuts... they use outhouses and need to fend of f**ing bears, and Hawaii is INSANELY expensive. This show provides an interesting perspective. As an aside in a similar genre, Celebrity House Hunting is not only a guilty pleasure but it shows you what a couple million can get you. You see some pretty amazing homes.

Hotel Impossible... Anthony Melchiorri has a well-deserved reputation for turning around some major New York City landmark hotels. He now roams the country offering advice to struggling independent hotels. What makes this show so interesting is that it's honestly like a master class in hotel management. Seriously, if you are in the hospitality industry and you haven't watched this entire series to see all the ideas he shares, then you are negligent.

These shows really are worth checking out. They provide lots of interesting insights and give you a cool perspective on the world around us and in particular our own country.

Anything I missed?


Tennessee Jed said...

I used to enjoy a show called "Three Sheets" that sounds similar to Booze Traveler. That guy was a comedian, and the show was a riot. As a general rule, I don't watch much reality t.v. There is a show (drama) called Broadhurst that will have season two premiering on March 4th on BBC America. I mention it only because I think you might like it.

ScottDS said...

I, too, mainly avoid reality TV. However, I'm a huge fan of Modern Marvels, How They Make It, and the other dozen shows with similar titles. :-) I can keep those on all day as background noise.

I'm also a sucker for documentaries on UFOs and secret things. I hate Ancient Aliens but I've been enjoying American's Book of Secrets, even if some of the people interviewed (ahem, Alex Jones) are quacks.

I used to watch Project Greenlight and this was when I was serious about working in the film business. I understand they need to edit things for dramatic effect but watching it was torture! It's like, okay, what's gonna be the big problem this week.

tryanmax said...

Chopped really is one of the greatest cooking shows ever. It's more like a classic gameshow because it has different contestants each episode, so there's no phony, survivor-island drama.

One of my favorite episodes had the contestants cooking on barbecue grills. Most of the cooks were stoked, but one in particular was really put off. She kept complaining that "real" chefs don't BBQ. (Meanwhile, the "not real" chefs were adjusting their recipes and methods.) Somehow, she survived the first round but it was real satisfying to see her get chopped b/c she had such an attitude about it.

BevfromNYC said...

I am so "Housewives of [fill in the blank]"?? What is up with that? And I noticed all of your shows have men in them...THAT is not really reality except on "The Bachelor".

djskit said...

"Gold Rush" is favorite. This show is really a celebration of the American spirit. These miners have guts and put a lot on the line to hit it big.

Mike said...

I don't have cable now, but I used to enjoy "Chopped", except when Aarón Sanchez was on. He just doesn't seem likable, but the last straw was when he went on a rant when one of the contestants didn't pronounce "tomatillo" correctly. I adore Alex Guarnaschelli, and while she seemed a little snooty at times, I also liked Amanda Freitag. Not sure if it qualified as "reality" (loved the skits and characters) but my favorite FN show of all-time is Good Eats, although AB doesn't seem like the same person in the other things he's done and that "Cutthroat Kitchen" or whatever it was didn't float my boat at all, nor any of the other competition cooking shows besides the older "Iron Chef" shows.

I really used to enjoy watching Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch, but in the last few years they seemed to be manufacturing drama and creating scenarios and crew/drivers dissension instead of just driving on ice and catching crabs. Also enjoyed "Gold Rush", but grew tired of the original bunch, forget the guy's name and his father's. I liked the young man, always wished the best for him.

I used to watch the survivor type shows (NOT "Survivor" - haven't watched more than five minutes of that show at a time, ditto "American Idol" or other singing/dancing competitions, except for a little when Bristol Palin was on - not sure those count as "reality" either)

That's about it, I guess, although I think the best reality show was "Dirty Jobs". I'm not gay, but if I were, I could go for Mike Rowe, he's handsome, smart and has a wicked sense of humor and it would be great to sit down and have a beer or two with him. I also liked "Only in America" w/ Larry the Cable Guy, but not as much. Even if I were gay, I wouldn't go for him. (although I'd love to have a beer with him, too and swap our favorite fart jokes)

AndrewPrice said...

Hi everybody. Sorry for not responding. I'm down with a serious cold. This is what comes of shoveling your driveway without a coat. :-(

Kenn Christenson said...

I enjoy "Deadliest Catch." Always wonder how those guys can go out there season after season.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Alaska State Troopers is a great show. Those guys truly go above and beyond what's required of them, and are superb cops.

Homicide Hunter, with Lt. Joe Kenda is another favorite of mine. He had 387 homicide cases in his career and solved 92% of them.
He is very entertaining, and I particularly like how he interrogates suspects.
He has a very sharp mind.

Mike, I agree, Dirty Jobs was a fantastic show.
I'll hafta check out some of those other shows. Used to watch Good Eats and the Japanese version of Iron Chef, translated into english.

Can't recall the name of the show, but I did catch some of the Bosses that went undercover to work with their employees and that was pretty good.

Scott, it is amazing how they make stuff. Some of the ways they make stuff is truly innovative.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hope you feel better soon, Andrew. Colds suck.

Rustbelt said...

"I hate Ancient Aliens..."

Uh, Scott, you're not the only one. This guy has issues with that show as well.

Rustbelt said...

And Andrew, you really need a break from the health issues- especially the self-inflicted ones.
Next time, when shoveling snow, be sure to dress like Kurt Russell in 'The Thing.'

Good well soon, my friend.

P.S. Police in South Carolina apparently caught the individual responsible for all this cold weather. LINK

PikeBishop said...

As someone who spent a combined total of over 20 years in food service, I enjoy "Bar Rescue" on SPIKE, even though the show seems to getting more and more scripted, with forced conflict and such. But I especially enjoy the cool drink concoctions and food recipes the staff comes up with in their rescues. I wish they would do a book about the show with all the recipes for each rescue included. Some great ideas. Also the design concepts that John Taffer comes up with just amaze me.

Anthony said...

I'm partial to World's Dumbest (which is exactly what people think of when they think of reality tv). Watching a would be burglar breaking his ankle while trying to kick open a door never gets old.

As a guy who used to work for AMW (just as an operator), I wound up watching a lot of episodes of Cops back in the day. I don't recall anything of the show, but its Bad Boys theme song is stuck in my head to this day.

tryanmax said...

Leonard Nimoy died at 83. Live long and prosper.

AndrewPrice said...

That's sad. RIP Mr. Spock!

ScottDS said...

Surely, the worst of times...

Koshcat said...

Most of them are so contrived. Occasionally like Nake and Afraid but it has a lot of similarities to torture porn. I enjoy Cutthroat Kitchen more than Chopped. I watched Broken Skull Challenge the other night which was awesome but the word "ass" is used so much I can't really watch it with the kids. What? No love for Sex Box? Personally sounds dumb to me.

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