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I discovered Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel during its second season so my girlfriend bought me the first season so I could see it from the start. There are 3 discs in the box and it cost £10 in Tesco at the time, they only seem to have the later series at the moment but this can still be bought online for even less. I think that under £10 for 8 hours of entertaining TV is a good price, it isn't something I would watch over and over again but the dvds have been passed around to everyone in the family so were good value for money.
For those of you who have never seen the programme, it is a documentary following the lives of truckers in Alaska. These are not any ordinary kind of trucker though, these are ice road truckers! They drive over "roads" which are basically frozen lakes and rivers to transport loads to remote towns and villages which cannot be reached when the ice melts, until it freezes again the next year.
The loads seem extremely heavy to be driven over less than one metre of ice, the trucks carry mining equipment to gold mines, jet fuel and other building supplies.
To make the show a bit more interesting it focuses quite a lot on the competitiveness of the drivers. The drivers each one to complete the most loads in the short 2 month season, as each load means more money. The drivers can earn a whole years wages in this short time.
You are introduced to the drivers, there are six of them in this series, as the episodes go on you get to know each driver a bit more. My favourite is Alex, he has a huge family to feed with his wife and 11 children. You want him to do well as he is a likeable character, you see him praying for a safe journey and winding up the man everyone loves to hate, Hugh "The Polar Bear" Rowland.
Hugh is a real pain in the backside, he thinks he is the best driver around, is extremely competitive and is absolutely desperate to get the biggest load count. It seems that he loves to see other drivers have problems as it means they will be delayed and it will be one more load for him. Alex, on the other hand, would stop to help anybody with problems on the road.
T.J is a young trucker who is new to the ice roads and does nothing but moan, as does Rick.
I do think Ice Road Truckers is edited a lot, almost to force your opinions of the drivers by making Alex the good guy and Hugh the bad guy, but it is entertaining.
Also edited are scenes such as drivers being a bit cocky saying they are great drivers, immediately followed by a slip up of some kind. I'm not too sure the events happened immediately after them blowing their own trumpet, it seems far too coincidental but it does make good watching.
The early episodes introduce the drivers, explain what their job entails, what loads they are carrying and a bit of information about the ice road itself.
As the series goes on we see the problems they face, there are oil spills, injuries and speed limit problems, mechanical issues, closed roads because other trucks have had accidents and the drivers competing to get the loads.
The later episodes see the drivers rushing to squeeze in the last runs of vital supplies before the road starts to melt, it's quite gripping to watch the drivers taking trucks with 100 tonne loads over melting ice.
This was a very good series, especially being the first series as it was something not really seen before. I saw the second season on TV and had no desire to go out and buy it, the seasons then seemed to get worse each time around, well not that they got worse, I just felt "I've seen this all before". For that reason I wouldn't buy any of the other seasons but I am glad I got this one as it was good to see it from the start and see how it all began.
I would never have thought I would enjoy a programme with a trucking theme but it is really good. I have heard a lot of people say that this is a man's programme but I watched it with my girlfriend and she enjoyed it, as did many female relations. It's well worth a watch.
'Ice road truckers' is another great documentary series, similar to 'Deadliest Catch.' The series follows truckers who drive in Canada's Northwest Territories over frozen lakes, hence the name. It is an exhilarating and dangerous documentary that can also be insightful.
The documentary premiered on the History Channel and now is also broadcast on channel 5. However it is much better to own the DVD and have at your disposal at any time. The series is a great, quite manly and adrenaline fuelled programme.
So as mentioned, the show focuses on truckers who drive in Canada's Northwest Territories. The show focuses on six truckers in season one, my personal favourite Hugh Rowland. He is a hard-working competitive man with a lighter and more humorous side.
The show features its fair share of dangers, be it falling through the ice whilst driving, driving in a blizzard and going off the road or hypothermia if you are in a bad scenario. Each episode of the first series was always interesting, tense, funny and educational.
I would recommend this to fans of Deadliest Catch, Ax Men and Swamp Loggers, Ice Road Truckers is another great example of insightful documentaries following people in their work place.
Since I was in my late teens I have always liked motorbikes and trucks. I like bikes because they are fast, flashy and it feels pretty good sat on the back in leathers with the wind blowing through your hair. Not sure why I like trucks whether it is something to do with all the hitch hiking I used to do, or because my brother is a truck driver or because I have so many memories of being stuck behind long truck convoys when travelling through the remotest parts of Spain to get to Portugal. I just love the engine sounds and the big cabs - everything about trucks. So I was thrilled to bits when my son lent me his copy of 'Ice Truckers The Complete Season One.' I knew I would like it not just because of the trucks but that it was based in a far out place, Yellowknife and the lakes in the Northwest Territories of Canada. I also love extreme places. I have in my time travelled and lived in some remote places but this part of the world is much more than extreme - it really is as the man says, 'the top of the world.'.
Season One is a three disc set introducing the viewer to the largest city in the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife. It's actual situation is on the northern shores of Great Slave Lake. What is even more exciting for me is that I can see these places on my lovely wall map that Maps International sent me. I didn't actually know where Yellowknife was until I watched the DVD and now I feel like I know it very well. It must be a strange place to live - like a big border town but somewhere I would like to visit one day.
Not only are we introduced to the freezing cold white landscape of this part of Canada we find out about the actual quest of each and every trucker and the meaning behind 'the Dash for the Cash'. Their job is not an easy one and not for the faint hearted as we see throughout the season as the truckers take to the road.
The Ice Road that the guys travel on is a series of lakes that have frozen over forming a road. The depth of the frozen ice is approximately 28 inches. Sometimes the thickness is less and sometimes more. I was amazed when I heard this piece of information and through underwater filming and computer graphics I could see with my own eyes the patterns underneath the ice the trucks made as they crossed with their loads. The creaking sound and the sudden splits that drivers experience and see must be nerve racking yet I thought they all seemed quite calm under the circumstances.
So what is the Dash for the Cash?
Two hundred miles from Yellowknife is a diamond mine at Snap Lake owned by a company called De Beers. To run effectively as a business and extract the diamonds from the mines safely the company needs to use some very expensive and heavy machinery. This is where the truckers come into the scenario - it is their job to strap the pieces of equipment to their trucks and drive to Snap Lake and other mines further into the Tundra. Even though some of the drivers are experienced they still find certain loads a challenge. Some loads are really wide, others very long and some top heavy. For each load they take they are paid a substantial sum of cash. The quicker they can get their trucks unloaded, back to Yellowknife to pick up the next load the more cash they will earn. The Ice Road lasts for approximately 2 months and in that time the race is on to see which trucker can take the most loads. The amount of cash earned in those two months is enough for a trucker to live off in one year. We are talking in the region of 30 thousand dollars to 58 thousand dollars. May sound a lot of cash but it's a lot of work, a lot of hours spent in a wilderness and at times extremely dangerous.
Disc One is the main introduction to the truckers and we see where each one lives and how far he has to travel to Yellowknife. They are a motley crew and when I first saw them I laughed out loud. Their dress sense is ridiculous although I love the dark shades they all wear to shield their eyes from the powerful sun and sheets of ice and snow. Let me introduce you to the main team: There are other truckers involved but this is the main crew.
Otherwise known as the Polar Bear - he is a rough sort of character, short, gruff and weighty. He's a bit of a loud mouth and thinks he is the toughest on the Ice Road. He does have a lot of stamina and is a good driver. He just gets on with the job without whinging although his managerial skills are something to write home about.
Another loud mouth who is a friend of Hugh's and works for him full time when the Ice Road is closed. This is his only second year of driving on the Ice Road and is one of Hugh's drivers. His ambition is to take the most loads - more than his boss. Will he succeed? You'll have to find out.
A veteran on the Ice Road, calm, witty and respected by all. He was born in Alberta, Canada and has 11 children. His parents were born in Poland, lived in UK and moved to Canada. Alex lives in Yellowknife all year round when he isn't on the Ice Road and knows the environment well - perhaps that's one of the reasons he seems so calm as a driver. Nothing seems to ruffle his feathers. Great smile and has an infectious laugh.
A relative youngster at 25, has a partner and a small child. Another calm character most of the time but sometimes seems a bit phsyco when glued to the steering wheel. He seems to get some strange pieces of equipment to deliver and gets sent to some very remote areas on his own without a convoy.
21 years old and a rookie, his first time as an Ice Trucker. He looks like he should be in some crazy rockabilly band. This guy makes me laugh - he always seems astonished at everything. A little cocky at times but then he is young. Without giving too much away let's just say he certainly has his trials and tribulations.
Another driver on Hugh's team. A bit of a moaner, no backbone and not one of the driver's I could take to. Definitely not cut out for the terrain and a bit of a skiver.
So there you have it - 6 very unusual guys doing a rewarding but crazy job.
We also see on Disc One how the roads are prepared for the drivers to take to the road and the equipment used to keep everything running as smooth as it possibly can be.
Disc 2 covers the journeys and here you will see that it isn't a straight forward job driving a truck loaded down for 200 miles at very slow speeds. Some drivers do drive faster but not a good idea as you will see. The Ice Road is strong most of the time if it is respected but when abused can cause havoc. Just like on normal highways accidents can happen and just when you aren't expecting it to. Sometimes the ice is unable to support the weight of these loads, will crack and drivers have been know to plunge to their deaths.
The drivers are the main characters in the series but on Disc 2 we see more action from the road safety guys who also seem very, very calm. I suppose you need good nerves when doing this job. The security and safety of the Ice Road is very important and the regulations are strict. Every day the roads are checked with computerised radar which is dragged on the surface of the ice tagged behind a safety vehicle. The computer readings will tell the safety crew if the ice is cracking or melting.
As we get to know the characters more on Disc 2 and the serious winter weather hits the lakes in the form of blizzards and freezing temperatures - sometimes hitting - 60 we see their frustrations with themselves, their trucks and other people. Language becomes rather colourful and body language turns cold and frigid. I think my language would turn blue and many other colours if I was outside clearing the airlines of my hydraulic brakes and putting snow chains on tyres in -60. The coldest I have been outside is -30 in Warsaw and that was last year. Believe me, -30 is freezing so you can bet your bottom dollar -60 is perishing.
Finally, Disc 3, the shortest disc - the wrapping up session. The weather after 2 months is turning. Spring is on the way and the minus temperatures have vanished. Wildlife is on the move, birds are chirping and the snow is beginning to melt. Nearly all the machines have been delivered to the mines but there are still a few loads left - so who will take the last loads and who will win the 'Dash for the Cash?' Will it be Alex, Hugh, TJ, Rick, Drew or Jay?
That's a brief outline, well sort of. Did I enjoy the 3 Discs? You bet. At first I thought I would just play one chapter each night so the three discs would last me a while but the more I watched the more I really enjoyed it and in the end became obsessive and had to watch all three discs in a week.
I loved the scenery - I know it is just a sea of snow most of the time but the skies and the whole aura of the place fascinated me. I kept imagining what it would feel like to be out there all alone in a truck. It's not that the journeys are long (200 miles) that they travel it is the amount of time spent on the ice as they have to drive so slow. I have been on some long journeys in my time - once drove from Carlisle to the Algarve in 24 hours and from Carlisle to Korcula in Croatia. I am not scared of long journeys and being on the road a long time. I have had that hallucination thing that one driver mentioned. I remember doing a really long trip back from the Algarve one year and I was a nervous wreck when I got out of the car - I kept seeing shadows jump in front of me and my body was shaking with fatigue so those freaky experiences that Hugh and the gang experience I can understand. I suppose watching these characters brought back some good memories of road trips and I liked that.
My opinion changed as the series went on about certain truckers. I wasn't too keen on the Polar Bear at first - I thought he was a yob and such a 'he man'. I still think he is a 'he man' but what he says makes a lot of sense and what I like about him is the fact that he doesn't gripe.
From the start I liked my Polish, friend Alex. He seemed such a nice guy and I liked his view on life. Such a great driver and loads of patience. I am amazed to see he has a Facebook page and is on Twitter. That's pretty cool to say he lives in the back of beyond.
Some people may think that this is a dumb sort of documentary - running up and down a god forsaken road at the top of the world but there is a lot more to it than the running of trucks. The DVDs give you an insight into the cruel landscape and how the guys interact with nature. The ice is like the sea - you don't mess with it - if you do it will take you.
To do this job takes a person with a special character; someone with determination and someone who has great survival instincts. If you think that at the beginning of the season there were 800 trucks and drivers and at the end there were only 100 left. It isn't for everyone. You need to know how to cope with the cold and have a knowledge of trucks and their engines and what makes them tick. Yes, there are mechanics out there but it's a dumb idea to be running to the grease monkeys every time something breaks down. Apart from the inconvenience I should imagine it burns a whole in their pockets.
Finally, if I have one criticism then it is about the guy who narrates the series, Thom Beers. What a boring voice - no ups and downs - so dead pan and geeky. You think they could have found someone with a bit more colour in his voice.
Just a couple of other things before I forget. The series was originally aired on the History Channel in 2000. The filming is in HD and is excellent. The skylines and the cloud movements are superbly shot as is the Ice Road at different times of the year. I love the shot of the road as it is melting and you can see what the road looks like when the ice has gone plus the speeded up shots of trucks moving on the ice is far out.
The DVD cover is stylish too with the rookie TJ on the front cover looking like a young cowboy and on the back we have a truck rolling through the ice with the faces of the 6 drivers superimposed. Nice that on each of the three DVD's there is a water colour picture of a truck with ice stars framing the picture - a sort of ice fairy tale picture.
This is my son's DVD so I have no idea how much he paid for it - I think it belongs to a full set comprising of season 2 and 3 but can't be sure. I see you can buy the Complete Series One on Amazon for £6.79 and I reckon this is a great price. It's taken me a week to watch all 3 DVD's and I have had a lot of enjoyment. As far as I'm concerned it is a great series and Alex is the top man. If you like wild, untamed climates, wicked weather, trucks, crazy Wild West types, good computer graphics then give this a go. It's top entertainment. As soon as my husband gets the go ahead from the doctor and can fly we are off to the Northwest Territories of Canada. Yahoo!
Ice Road Truckers is a History Channel program, a mixture between a documentary and a reality tv show, the difference between this and other reality tv shows is that these people actually lead an interesting, dangerous and work laden life and don't just sit around in a room looking at each other's bogies.
I'd long been aware of Ice Road Truckers but never came across it on TV, so when I saw the First Series available for under £9, I had leaped at the chance to buy this 3 Disc, 10 episode & specials DVD. The box itself is rather nice and hosts the discs in style with a swinging holder inside the box. Buying it in a box set with Series 2 or 2 and 3 works out cheaper.
The programme follows several truckers that haul large loads from Whitehorse in NWT, Canada across the Ice roads that are made up of frozen lakes and land portages up to diamond mines, hundreds of miles away. The show is very informative and the viewer can learn how the ice roads are made, something about the history of driving on the ice roads, the risks of driving on them and it explains what happens when someone drives to quickly on the ice using nice electronic diagrams.
The so-called "Dash for the Cash" means trying to get as many loads in a short winter road season that lasts no more than 60 days, with incidents on the roads, snow storms and mechanical failures, it's not straight forward and when a day's work pays $1000, tempers flare!
This is a great show, episodes typically last 45 minutes - the programme tends to focus on 6 of the drivers, all of whom are considerably different characters from the brash know it all Hugh "Polar Bear" Rowland to the weasily rookie Drew.