I never planned on becoming a fan of “Alone,” this survival/reality show when it debuted last year on the History channel. But now I can’t stop watching. Live. As it airs on Thursday nights.
Of course, I was any easy mark. I’m still a fan of the grandfather of all reality shows (“Survivor”), but the stripped-down nature of this show (no host, no tribal council and no camera crews) and the fact that it takes place on nearby Vancouver Island added to the appeal.
This second season repeats the formula of the first. Ten participants are transported to separate remote locations on the north end of Vancouver Island, where they must create shelter, find food and battle wildlife and the elements. The person who lasts the longest wins $500,000. They also film everything themselves, using handheld cameras. Yes, they are truly … alone.
This season’s contestants include a former game warden with the Peace Corps, a firefighter, a teacher of wilderness survival skills and a former infantryman for the U.S. Army. All tough individuals. Watching them size up their new surroundings, cope with new situations as they arise and the hours and days of solitude is what makes the show must-see TV. Heck, you might even learn a thing or two.
Because it’s set in Pacific Northwest, the scenery is breathtaking and that’s reason enough to tune in. It also rains. A LOT. Surprised? How these people cope with the constant dampness of everything is eye-opening. Especially tense are the middle-of-the-night discussions that the contestants have with themselves (and the cameras) while listening for creatures out in the dark.
Each contestant has the option to “tap out” at any time. A person can hit a button on a satellite phone that signals the producers that they are ready to leave. A boat shows up not long afterwards and removes the person from the game. One bear-obsessed contestant didn’t make it through the first day, so only nine people remain.
I have my favorites (Portland resident Nicole Apelian, former military sniper Justin Vititoe, firefighter Mary Kate Green), people who I hope can go the distance. But as the days turn into weeks, mental stability plays a major factor and things can change drastically.
So for the next few weeks, I know where I’ll be Thursday nights. In front of my TV, vicariously surviving in the wilderness. Alone.