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April 26, 2013
Do We Really Need a "Naked" Survival Show? - 5
by Tim MacWelch
My instinctive reaction to the headlined question is, “No, I don’t believe I want to see a wardrobe-less survivalist trying to do perform survival skills on a deserted island.” The whole thing stinks of gimmicks and exploitation.
But I had to make myself watch at least one episode of "Naked Castaway" (Sundays at 10 p.m. on Discovery) before I made my decision.
Don’t worry, he’s not completely naked. By the grace of God, and maybe the FCC, the grass skirt on this fellow is reasonably thick. Thicker than this show’s premise: A former British Army captain must endure 60 days alone on a tropical island with no significant amount of clothing, tools, or weapons. Struggle and survival are what’s going on. But there’s still plenty to look at, and I don’t mean the guy’s posterior. The backdrop for the show is breathtaking. Discovery selected for the setting a small, uninhabited Pacific island 200 miles southeast of Fiji. But don’t let the scenery fool you, pretty places like this can shift from paradise to hell without much effort.
The show is shot in Les Stroud’s self-filmed, support crew-free style that we saw in "Survivorman," and it’s hard not to draw analogies and make comparisons between "Naked Castaway" and "Survivorman." Former British Army Captain Ed Stafford films himself working and living on the tropical jungle island. The show’s pace is slow, and the program seems to stress the difficulty of performing survival skills for subsistence. Stafford looks perpetually tired and stressed, and it appears that he’s on track to be bored out of his mind after a few weeks on this postage stamp-sized island. This all seems truer that the average “hyped-up” survival shows, with their chills and spills and personality conflicts, which are almost certainly staged. My take on Naked Castaway boils down to one lean sentence. “It’s not that bad.” I guess we’ll have to keep watching a few more episodes to see what happens to this chap. But I would bet good money that he’s not getting paid enough to be used and abused like this.
Have you seen the show? Would you miss it if it gets cancelled? Tell us what you like or dislike about it in the comments.