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It seems yet again for my birthday this year I received 3 box sets of DVD's all to do with trucking? Do I look like a trucker? Having watched all episodes of each individual sets I am now going to review IRT in the Andes. You may remember I reviewed their stint in the Himalayas and I had a bit to say on the subject. Well, I may have a lot to say about this collection but beofre I do I will give you a bit of background information on the show.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Ice Road Truckers (IRT), the programme was released on the History Channel around June 2007 - a documentary style series introducing viewers to the men/women who drove the Ice Road in the North West Territories of Canada and the support staff who helped them safely on their way. I don't want to go into too much detail because this review is about their trip across the Andes. Let's just say IRT in Canada became very popular. They made 5 series and the Deadliest Road Series became a spin off from the original series and was shown on TV after series 4 had finished. IRT in The Himalayas was the first in the series and the Andes series was released on 7 May, 2012.
The box set consists of 4 DVDs including 13 episodes. Total viewing time: 571 minutes of hair-raising and nail biting material.
***It's Introduction time***
Disc 1, 3 episodes, Total time 131 mins
We are introduced to three old friends and favourites, Hugh, Rick and Lisa, all experienced truckers on the Ice roads in Canada and Alaska. Rick and Hugh seem to be getting on okay. The Death Road is one of the deadliest in the world, with narrow roads perched on tops of cliffs that rise up for thousands of feet. Navigating the highways of South America isn't an easy task, there is no room for manouvre or mistakes on this road and that is why a co-driver or spotter is needed to tell the other driver if it is safe to pass. Suddenly Rick seems very anxious and agitated. He starts to lose his temper and his driving starts to become erratic like it did in the Himalayas. Will he make it to the end and will him and Hugh remain friends?
Two rookies come on the scene, an American Latino from Compton in California, called Tino Rodriguez whose command of Spanish will come in useful to get him and his outspoken, eccentric friend from the Port of Los Angeles, Timothy Zuckhu, out of trouble. We see Tim and Tino's trials and tribulations on the first stage of the trip. They seem to hit it off as truck brothers - will it last?
Finally, Lisa and the Alabama Slammer come on the scene. We have seen from IRT in Canada, Alaska and the Himalayas that Lisa has guts and a determined streak. She seems very nervous as she hits the world's most deadliest road and a couple of times lets Dave Redmond take the wheel. At one stage her mind and body can not take the strain, she has to get out of the cab. Will it be a temporary or permanent hitch?
***New kid on the block, Fastest Man and Queen of the Ice Road***
Disc 2 3 discs Total time 132 mins
We have a new kid on the block, a Texan roughneck called GW Boles, he looks like a younger member of ZZ Top, with his long, goaty beard and mass of black hair tied back. He doesn't look the fittest specimen on the road and let's just say that little Lisa isn't too happy with his attitude. Is it rookie nerves or is he a pain in the butt?
Tim and Tino are showing signs of confidence and hope to take on a race with Hugh, (Polar Bear) Rowland, a man with lots of attitude who is known for his speed, doggedness and strength. Crazy moves and unresponsible driving at times nearly sends them over the edge, literally. Who will win the title of 'Fastest Man' this time?
The Queen of the Ice Road and GW take time out from the mountains to travel across the Uyuni Salt Flats, one of the flattest places on the earth to deliver a truck load of llamas. With only each other and a tacky GPS system can they make it?
***Last days in Bolivia***
Disc 3, 3 episodes, 132 minutes
Soon the truckers will be moving on to Peru and will say Farewell to the Death Road but before they do they manage to have some fun wrestling but this isn't any old ordinary wrestling it is Bolivian Cholita wrestling involving free fighting women wrestlers. Will GW and Tim make asses of themselves in the wrestling ring? Tim and Tino go higher into the mountains and Tim suffers with his breathing. Good job there is a tank of oxygen on hand to help relieve the restriction in his chest. He isn't the only one suffering with his breathing, Hugh is having a spot of bother too and he finds it increasingly difficult to turn the truck into the narrowest of roads.
All three trucks hit the dust, leaving Bolivia behind and moving into the Andes mountains where the environment can be tough and unforgiving. At last Lisa gives the Texan the wheel of her truck and we see a few sparks fly. Does Mr GW Boles cut the mustard?
Lisa gets back behind the wheel to cross the Punta Olimpica Pass so they can reach the town of Hualin with some monster pipes. The load is heavy and awkward and then she is informed by a Peruvian workman that within one hour there will be 'Boom, Boom' and the mountain will be blown up. Does she have the bottle to do it in one hour? In the meantime Hugh goes back to his old truck, Black Thunder and his mission is to transport livestock over the mountains. A tricky ordeal as they shift around and lean over to one side. The mighty T and T are not on the road because Tino isn't around. He went out on the tiles last night, had a skinful and is nowhere to be seen. Tim's patience is running out with his Spanish speaking partner. Will they make it up and get back on track?
***Betty and Mathilde, Rocks falling, Hugh playing with Fire***
Disc 4, 4 episodes, 176 minutes
Polar Bear Rowland hits the road on an old broken trail that donkeys once footed. He's transporting fireworks. Will it be a quiet trip or will there be fire, bang- bang and rockets soaring high?
After his explosive trip Hugh has to take some hand made ceramics to Chimbote with T and T on his trail carrying dinosaurs. The race is on! Lisa and GW are also on the same track, taking two artistically created dinosaurs designed by the artist Arturo to a special exhibition that is being set up for children on the coast after passing through Dead Nun's Canyon. The thing is, the dinosaurs are standing and one has a long neck, not the best design for winding around cliff tops and going underneath tunnels. Will Mathilde and Betty make it?
The Peruvian roads are turning out to be a nightmare for all the drivers. It's landslide time and boy do those rocks fall down the mountain. Lisa and GW are not a happy pair, they are scared out of their wits and just when they thought they were doing okay. T and T are driving a tad too fast to say that they are hauling a tanker through a blast zone. As for Hugh, his load is a bit fishy, he's got a load of frozen fish and they have to be delivered before the ice in the unit melts. If that happens they will have to be thrown away. Can our Canadian friend, do it in time?
The whole journey is coming to an end now but before our truckers leave the world of South America they are heading up the Andes to see the bull running event. We see Hugh tampering with fire, GW having a few tricky moments and the truck brothers T and T going in different directions.
Filming: I absolutely loved the filming of this beautiful part of the world. I have been in love with the Andes since I was a kid drawing maps at Junior School. I've always liked the shape of South America and the way the ridge of the mountains runs up the side. I've not been to Bolivia or Peru but I would love to before I pop my clogs. What I really liked were the trails cut out of rock on the mountain and the incredibly blue skies. People of Bolivia and Peru are so attractive to film with their wacky hats, long skirts and multi coloured tops. The camera men were excellent at showing us the difficulties of driving on the passes, the overhanging rock formations and parts of the trails that were overgrown and jungle like. The sheer drops and road edges were pretty amazing and had me biting my nails and sat with my toes crossed.
***The Second Series Overall***
Firstly, I enjoyed this series more than the Himalayas because I liked the scenery more and the beauty of the people. In the beginning I was pleased to see Hugh, Lisa and Rick again although Rick started to irritate me quite quickly wth his wreckless attitude and his bad manner to some of the Bolivian people. He seemed out of his depth in some of the situations. Hugh and Lisa weren't much better. I always liked Lisa in IRT in her own environment but she seemed to change. She became sullen, unhelpful and such a control freak. You could see that she didn't want GW Boles to take over any of the driving. That's not playing the game and not being fair. I went off her half way through the show.
Tim and Tino were a lot of fun throughout the series although at times Tim was too mouthy and Tino was too mardy but out of the teams these two made me laugh the most. Hugh is always himself, the toughnut from Canada who has 'done everything.' I did get cross with him on several occasions as he showed no respect especially when he was delivering ceramics on a really treacherous road. He didn't care whether they were broken or not on delivery, he just carried on driving fast. Lisa and GW tried to keep their load of dinosaurs intact and did drive with care but T and T didn't care at all. I thought their behaviour was atrocius, laughing as they were trying to stick them together and they told lies to the artist. I would have been terribly upset if they were my creations and had arrived in such a state especially if I had made them for a children's exhibition. The last straw was when Lisa and GW were driving through a poor Peruvian village and he knocked the side of a roof off someone's house. He didn't even stop to see what the damage was - he could have hurt a child, an old lady or an an animal. I was pleased when the lady followed him and made him hand over some cash for repairs.
I know the roads are mega dangerous and the series is set up to show just how tough the truckers are but I thought too many of the scenes were set up and the series had lost its naturalness. Ordinary people drive on these roads and they don't make half the fuss the truckers do. I know the natives know the outline and formatiions of the roads better but all the drama created by the IRT gang got on my nerves. Unfortunately, this series doesn't get a higher rating than the Himalaya series. In a way it is compelling watching but I didn't enjoy their behaviour and I much prefer them in their own environment so IRT in Canada and Alaska still rules. This Deadliest Roads series doesn't work for me. Eddie Stobart is more interesting - at least those drivers can behave themselves and aren't disrespectful to other people.