Ragin' Cajuns: TV Review
Discovery's latest reality fishing expedition airs Tues, Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
A lumbering, 400-pound monster lurks in the Bayou waters of the Louisiana gulf coast. Largely unintelligible, missing many of his front teeth, his weathered face framed by long, greasy brown hair, this rather astounding human specimen goes by the name of Blimp, and he’s the star of Discovery’s latest realty fishing expedition, Ragin’ Cajuns.
The captain of a ramshackle shrimping trawler dubbed the Mo De Girls, Blimp is described as the heart of Venice, Louisiana, a town that has seen its share of hardship due to the double blows of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
Given the condition of Blimp’s ticker, which an oh-so-folksy narrator informs us has recently endured three heart attacks over the past few years, Venice might soon find itself in need a new poster child. Until then, producers Deirdre Gurney (Auction Hunters), Scott Gurney (American Guns) and French Horwitz (Storm Chasers) have stumbled upon an alternately amusing and perplexing towatch character.
“I’m a man of my word,” Blimp spews forth during the premiere episode (mercifully, his dialog is accompanied bysubtitles to help navigate a thick Cajun accent). “If I tell you there’s cheese on the moon, bring your crackers and milk, ‘cause I’m not gonna to lie to you. That’s just the way it is, ah, I mean if I don’t like you, I’m a tell you I don’t like you.”
But Blimp isn’t the only shrimper on the show to offer up head-scratching lines. Captain Acy Cooper shows a similar ability to dish out the strained metaphors.
“Just put all my money into the vessel,” Cooper says of his boat, the Marla Kay. “It’s just like a woman, sticking her hand out all the time. If you neglect her, she pays you back.”
The narrator, whose down-home tenor sounds plucked from a Dodge Durango or Longhorn Steakhouse ad, also delivers some incisive gender comparisons.
“The Louisiana Bayou is a fickle temptress,” he intones. “Some days she smiles upon you and lines your nets with white gold. Other times, she holds back. On her worst days she unleashes a fury that can wipe out an entire fleet.”
As for the action here, the show follows six captains and their crews as they head out at the start of 3-month shrimp fishing season, hunting, we are told repeatedly by our chatty narrator, for “white gold.”
To be sure, both the drama and the proverbial gold on Ragin’ Cajuns are not as impressive as that hauled up by the shrimper’s crab-seeking brethren on Deadliest Catch. If they’re lucky, and land on a spot where the shrimp are jumping into their nets, they might bring in a few thousand bucks in a single outing. But as these guys have learned the hard way of late, fortunes in the shrimping business can change overnight.
“If we can’t make any money this time, there may not be a next year,” Cooper explains.
But no one on the show illustrates the precarious plight of the fisherman more than Blimp, who often seems to be his own worst enemy.
“You better know where you’re going when you comin’ through these bayous at night and you ain’t got no GPS, you will sink your boat.” Blimp says, seconds before bashing his GPS-less ship into an unseen heap of metal below in the dead of night. D’oh!
The next morning, Blimp makes a hard turn, and steers himself into more trouble.
“With his net caught in the propeller, only the captain can save his catch,” the narrator assures us as Blimp strips off his grimy t-shirt, exposes his full girth to the world, and flops into the murky water to try and rescue his season.
Not every captain on the show is as colorful and hapless as the no-so-mighty Blimp. Described as Blimp’s “polar opposite,” Waylon Burris is the captain of the Miss Carmine, the largest and most modernized boat in the Venice fleet. The cut of Burris’ jib is more Navy captain than Blimp’s obese pirate, but high overhead costs make him just as vulnerable to economic failure—and easy clichés—as the other cast members.
“It’s do or die now, baby,” Burris says from behind the wheel as he heads out on the season’s first run.
The make or break premise of Ragin’ Cajuns is not unfamiliar to blue collar reality nor the numerous reality programs that attempt to portray it, and there’s no doubt that independent shrimpers are in a tough spot since Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Unfortunately for this show, the activity of shrimping—dropping nets into shallow brown waters, trolling, and raising nets—is about as fun as watching someone do the dishes. Quick edits, and heart pumping music don’t do much to change that fact, and while Blimp is a singular screen presence, it’s not clear whether he’ll be given enough of a chance to turn the show into anything more than a weak approximation of that other popular fishing show on Discovery.