Dual Survival -- TV Review

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Discovery Channel, how you tempt the armchair survivalist in me.

Thanks to Discovery programming, I am privileged to watch the heroic, if occasionally staged, efforts of men like Bear Grylls ("Man vs. Wild," "Worst Case Scenario") battle the elements, eat bizarre "protein" and otherwise suck it up in the name of showing us softies some of Mother Nature's harshest realities all from the safety of my sofa. So, thank you.

But until I saw "Dual Survival," I didn't know what I was missing.

This masterful if unimaginatively titled bit of programming strands independent survival experts Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury in several challenging environments to show us how they do, or do not, rise to the occasion. So far, so average. But Lundin and Canterbury have very different approaches to survival, and once they start butting heads, it gets hilarious pretty quickly.

Give Lundin most of the credit. Canterbury is the stereotype of the hardened survivalist: former Army sniper, lives with Mother Nature as his adversary. Lundin, however, wants to attune with Mother Nature and hasn't worn shoes (or long pants) in 20 years. He hikes in boreal wilderness, on snow, on an island off Nova Scotia -- in socks. To Canterbury, Lundin's ideas are "bush hippie crap." Lundin, who thinks by going unshod he is getting his cells to evolve, notes, "My mitochondria can kick Dave's mitochondria any day of the week."

Great stuff, sprinkled among the sometimes useful details. Lundin does come up with a brilliant "greenhouse" improvised shelter, but Canterbury's deadfall traps are a big zero. (Has anyone ever caught anything using a deadfall on these shows?) Even the narrator gets to poke a little fun, noting more than once that someone has broken a "cardinal rule" of survival.

Try and look beyond the overweening soundtrack telegraphing "danger" every two minutes, and ignore the extended recaps bookending each commercial break -- they're designed for those with short-term memory loss. Come for the porcupine clubbing, stay for the Dharma and Greg bickering. You'll be glad you did, and you'll be glad you're home as you do -- insufficient mitochondria and all.

Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Friday, June 11 (Discovery)
Production: Original Media
Cast: Dave Canterbury, Cody Lundin
Executive producers: Charlie Corwin, Jay Peterson, Tim Pastore
Co-executive producer: Brian Lovett
Supervising producers: Melissa Hetzner
Producer-director: Bengt Anderson
Director of photography: Derek Carver