You know how Discovery’s annual “Shark Week” is all about showing you what killing machines sharks are, but then assuring you that they don’t actually mean to eat us. The channel’s “Alaska Week” — which kicks off tonight at 9 p.m. ET and features the season five premiere of Deadliest Catch (April 14, 9 p.m.) and the series debut of Arctic Roughnecks (April 13, 9 p.m) — reveals the many dangers of the Last Frontier, and that it’s totally out to get you.
Yes, there’s lighter fare programmed during the week: Mike Rowe (pictured) kicks things off with a dog-sledding themed episode of Dirty Jobs (April 12, 9 p.m.), while Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman put Alaskan myths such as “Can it get so cold that your urine freezes before it hits the ground?” to the test in a new installment of MythBusters (April 15, 9 p.m.). But those aren’t the hours I was sent screeners of. I received:
• Bear Attack! (April 12, 10 p.m.): There were nine violent brown bear attacks in Anchorage city limits within a six-week period. The main theories why: The paths in the parks run too close to the streams where bears fish for salmon, and bears will protect their cubs and food source. The salmon run was late, so bears followed the streams into town, which provided a tasty alternative — garbage. Helpul tip: If you ever meet a brown bear, roll yourself into a ball and play dead. You will get mauled, but once the bear no longer perceives you as a threat, it should leave. (If you think you can take a bear, just watch the footage of one dragging a moose.)
• Alaska: Most Extreme (April 16, 9 p.m.): A look at some of the ballsiest Alaskans at work. You watch men drive a Hovercraft carrying supplies to a village over 30 miles of frozen ice in whiteout conditions, and are told, if it doesn’t get through, the children will go hungry(!). You see men free-climb 120 feet up a damaged transmission tower to bring power back to Juneau after avalanches wiped out the city’s entire grid. (My favorite moment, a rope accidentally drops on the boss’ head, and he yells up, “That’s a beer!”) You also get cops being called to chase away a 1,000-pound moose walking outside a woman’s home, and footage of a moose walking INTO the lobby of a building. (Suddenly, seeing pigeons in New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal doesn’t seem so special.)
• Untamed Alaska (April 17, 9 p.m.): This is some of the most intense footage you’ll see all week. Some of it, you can’t look away from: The Coast Guard dramatically rescues fishermen whose boat is trapped in the ice, and a mother bear protects her three cubs and their meal from a male bear (and when she returns, two of the cubs stand on their hind legs and reenact the fight — I am not even joking). Some of it, you’ll want to: Amateur snow machiner Rob Hehnlin tries to jump across a road and slams into the guard rail (the slo-mo is not pretty), and extreme skier Garret Bartelt cartwheels down AN ENTIRE MOUNTAIN and lives. You also get a woman who stood too close to a polar bear exhibit at the zoo being bitten and some off-roaders nearly dying when their Jeep gets swept up in a glacier-fed stream they tried to cross. The moral here: A single lapse in judgment could be your last.
• Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment (April 14, 10 p.m.): In this eight-part series, nine average Americans are given a three-day survival course and basic supplies (no food, but condoms!), then stranded a 60-mile hike from civilization. “And now the rules are simple,” the voiceover says. “Survive or die.” There is no prize, and no one is voted off — if someone wants out, they push their own GPS button and a rescue helicopter is summoned. You know it’s not a game when the only food that’s caught in the first three days is a single mouse. And a woman gets pissed because the others didn’t save her a bite.