Entertainment » TV Highlights

The Televisionist, Oct. 28


'SISTER WIVES': Don't mind sharing.
  • 'SISTER WIVES': Don't mind sharing.


8 p.m. Sundays

The History Channel

I love people who do stuff. While that might sound simplistic, I mean every syllable. What I'm talking about is the blue collar folks. The people who make things with their hands. The folks who know how to change a flat and skin a catfish and maybe even cook up a batch of corn likker. While it's easy to romanticize such things from the cushy confines of an air-conditioned office job, as somebody who once worked the bluest of blue collar labor, I feel pretty confident in saying that you haven't really lived life until you've traded sweat for greenbacks on a weekly basis. Maybe that's the reason I fell in love in the last couple of seasons with the History Channel show "Ice Road Truckers." The premise only seems crazy until you realize how necessary and kick ass it is: In order to supply the oil and mining rigs near or above the Arctic Circle, people realized years ago that they could actually drive semi-trucks on frozen lakes and rivers. That's right: Imagine those 747-sized trucks that dwarf your Honda out on the freeway. Now imagine that same truck driving on nothing but really, really cold H2O. Physics is great, ain't it? The characters behind the wheels on Ice Road Truckers were characters indeed, mostly all grizzled coot types who'd gone to the Far North to prove something to themselves and never came back. Now the History Channel recycles a lot of those same drivers for a new show called "IRT: Deadliest Roads." The premise is pretty simple: take the drivers off the ice roads, put them in a long-haul rig in India — which ain't exactly known for either highway soundness or vehicle safety — and have them test their mettle against some of the most treacherous highways in the universe. This season has truckers Lisa Kelly, Rick Yemm, Alex Debogorski and Dave Redmon facing down what is known as the Free Fall Freeway, an incredibly dangerous road literally blasted into the cliffs of the Himalayas, and barely wide enough for one truck. In places, it would take balls of solid titanium to drive a compact car through, much less a big rig. Add to that crazy bus drivers who see nothing wrong with passing on blind corners over a 1,000 foot drop, and you begin to see why this is one of the most thrilling reality series to round the bend in a long time. Check it out. 


9 p.m. Sundays


From little people romance to compulsive hoarders to Sarah Palin's Alaska, TLC has really set itself apart in recent years as the Freak Show channel, the place where you can one-stop shop for anything off-kilter and bizarre. The newest addition to that Jerry Springer-esque lineup might be their most interesting yet. A kind of real-life version of HBO's polygamy trainwreck drama "Big Love," "Sister Wives" follows the fortunes of the Browns, a for-real family living the suburban polygamist lifestyle in Utah. The head of the household is Kodi Brown, a clueless ditz with a blond surfer's mane, a white Lexus roadster, a taste for clothes 20 years too young for his 40-something body, and four (count 'em!) wives. In order of marriage: Meri, Janelle, Christine and the newlywed Robyn. Together, the five spouses have 13 kids between them, and from what I've seen of the show, fatherhood in bulk hasn't brought ol' Kodi any wisdom. How this man lives with four women without winding up being beaten soundly, driven two states over in the trunk of one of their cars and dumped in the desert is a mystery to me. Case in point: On a recent episode, while wife No. 3 Christine was in labor with their daughter, Kodi took the doctor's visit to her room as a great opportunity to inquire about fertility treatments for wife No. 2. Yeah. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't something like that grounds for a finding of justified homicide in around 26 states? "Sister Wives" isn't everybody's cup of tea, but it's definitely a lot of fun if you want to experience the limits of female charity and grace. Why seemingly well-adjusted and perfectly normal women would ever allow themselves to become a part of an arrangement like this is fascinating, and definitely worth the price of admission. 

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