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Instead of bringing me to new heights, it's "The Real World" goes Chomolungma
As an Everest enthusiastic I've read a lot of books concerning the mountain. Lately I've been searching for good films and documentaries on the subject as well. When I checked IMDb for a series I found called 'Everest: Beyond the limit' I was thrilled. With an average grade of 8.6 and produced by the Discovery Channel this should be a blast. I was curious to see what it would be like.
The bottom-line of the show is simple. Every year, more and more commercial groups try to climb Everest. These groups consist of Westeners who have paid large sums of money to experienced Himalaya guides to get to the summit. 'Everest: Beyond the Limit' follows the commercial group lead by guide Russell Brice. The group consists of amateur climbers from all over the world, and his job is to get them to the summit. The series revolves around this struggle.
Interesting ingredients to make a stunning documentary, I'd say. Even more when considering this all happens on the steep faces of the highest mountain in the world. So, apart from the struggle to get to summit, I also expected to see impressive images, interesting background information on the mountain and an intriguing views in the lives of the Sherpa climbers who make the ascent possible.
But I can only say that after watching two seasons (I haven't seen the third yet) I am disappointed. Very disappointed. Instead of all the above, this show only focuses only on the Western climbers. The intelligence level of the show can be compared with MTV shows like 'Made' or 'My super sweet 16'. We are forced to watch the ups and downs of an asthmatic Dane and the mood swings of a Hell's Angel biker. We see a totally unprepared L.A.-journalist get pwned by the mountain. We watch them cry, suffer and struggle.
Off course, this has to be part of the show. It's the reality. But in my opinion it's a side-subject and the reason why I watch the show is Everest. I know that human interest can be very interesting, but in this show the center of attention is not the mountain or the way to the summit. The center of attention are the ups and downs of the climbers. The show revolves around it and for because of that it turned the pulp we already have too much of on TV. Really, it's 'The Real World goes Chomolungma'.
The first minutes of every episode are filled with flashbacks from the previous episode. I can understand that this is needed, to show the important things that happened before. But all the flashback focuses on is the human interest. After the flashback, we have to watch five minutes of previews of the coming episode. Off course, all focused on the human emotions. Every commercial break is preluded with a toe- wrenching cliffhanger. So dare not to swap your TV to another channel. In my personal opinion this is the exact opposite of the way the presentation should have been.
But, considering all this, I still rate the show a seven. Because when I look through all the mind-narrowing garbage the makers throw at me I see the most intriguing mountain of the world. I see a highly experienced guide trying to get through to novice stubborn clients. I see strong Sherpa's with interesting traditions (where the show obviously doesn't attends any attention to). But to see this, I have to fast forward through the all the melodrama and crap that fills up 25 minutes of every episode. But when I've done that, I see 20 minutes of high class TV.
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