Ice Road Truckers



10 p.m. Sunday, June 18
History Channel

Global warming? My backside.

You need to fire up the furnace and wrap yourself in your long johns, ear muffs and winter mittens to endure "Ice Road Truckers," a chilly new 10-part series from History Channel. It won't be an easy thaw, despite what Al Gore says.

Original Prods., from executive producers Thom Beers and Philip Segal, made this amazing docu-thriller. It's a sometimes amusing but often scarifying 350-mile trip into Yellowknife in the nippy, usually stormy Northern Territory of Canada, with 30- to 50-degrees-below-zero readings representing no deterrent. Their gargantuan trucks (70 tons) bring equipment and supplies to the three diamond mines. This is not far from the Arctic Circle, if you happen to be in the neighborhood..

Simple enough -- if you don't consider that the "highway" covers the 18-inch-thick ice covering over monster lakes. The junkets start about mid-January, and the soundtrack on these trips is the raw, screechy ice crackling below your wheels.

The drivers compete against one another for the fun of it, and the more trips, the more checks. The runs pay about $2,000, with perhaps 30 trips a season. It seems like they face 20 jeopardies to the mile. They toss it off as "Dash for the Cash."

What demands your attention is that the producers keep their watch over a few of the drivers, like Hugh, Alex, Rick, etc., who are great characters in their own right and have their own special sense of the gallows rides.

Happily, the network didn't send out all the episodes for review. One was enough to get the point. Now it's time for a hot toddy, thank you.