An un-bear advantage

An+un-bear+advantage

Discovery Channel

I had been let down before by the Discovery channel and wasn’t sure I would be able to trust them again.
It was the summer of 2017 and Shark Week was swimming along the TV guide. I was promised a race between Olympic gold medalist Michel Phelps and a great white shark. It was going to be extreme and dangerous and, according to the Discovery Channel, the coolest thing ever to happen in the channel’s history. Instead, the shark didn’t bother to show up and I had to accept a computer generated shark simulation as a stand-in for the real thing.

I was pissed.

That being said, I was skeptical when I saw “Man vs. Bear” on the TV guide one afternoon while looking for some white noise to run while I did homework.

“Ugh, this oughta be good,” I scoffed, as I had flashbacks of disappointment and betrayal.

“Bear witness to a showdown like you’ve never seen before,” says the ruggedly deep voice of a narrator, as clips of someone putting on gloves, a bearpaw scuffing the dirt and a zoom-out shot of an obstacle-course looking setup.

The next thing I know, there’s a shot of someone running, being chased by a grizzly bear, humans struggling to roll logs and playing tug of war with a real, live, massive grizzly bear.

I blink a couple times just to make sure I’m seeing things correctly- and I am. I sit there catching flies as the intro begins and the show is explained.

Three contestants, who all have some sort of background in being athletic, strong and gritty people, compete in bear-themed events against each other and three bears to see who is better at doing bear things. Spoiler alert: it’s the bears.

The first event is called “King of the Mountain” and is pretty much a tug of war contest between a contestant and Bart, a 1400 pound, 8.5 foot Alaskan Kodiak grizzly bear who lives there on Bear Mountain. Contestants are put up on a platform on one side of a small pond and Bart stands on a hill on the other side.

Bart, you have to understand, is a good boy. He’s really just there to play and have a good time. Instinctually, he loves to pull things like prey and ropes and use his strength to dominate all competitors on the show and in the wild.

Of course, every round ends with the human going in the drink, because Bart is a bear. The goal is to stay up for as long as you can and your score is based on every two seconds you can endure before falling.
The next event is an eating contest where all three contestants go up at the same time against another bear named Tank. The menu consists of bear delicacies such as berries, raw fish, roe, crickets, raw strips of meat, grapes, mealworms and herring.

Tank is also a particularly good boy. He’s older, so his hobbies include lumbering around, eating a lot of snacks and sitting in his favorite lawn chair. Sometimes, before the competition, he’ll take a load off and wave at the contestants from across the way.

Contestants have four piles of different foods to finish for points determined by how far from the typical human diet they are. Bugs and raw meat are worth more if you get them down before Tank finishes his food than the fruits or veggies.

Of course, the goal is to finish your whole platter before Tank does, but that doesn’t really happen because, well, Tank’s a bear.

The final event is a test of speed and agility as contestants run through an obstacle course and eventually climb a tree to get to safety from the last bear, Honey Bump, who is chasing them.

Honey Bump, as you can guess from her name, is also very good. She is much smaller than Tank, or her brother Bart, so she competes in all things speed related. It is in her nature to run fast (up to 35 mph) in order to protect cubs, but she especially likes it because she gets to be hosed down and cool off before and after every race.

There are some other events like a log roll against Bart and an event called “Human Prey.” In this event, contestants go up against Bart in essentially a hamster ball made of steel and he tries to push the ball, and the contestant, into a hole. Sorry, let me rephrase that. Contestants are put into what is essentially a hamster ball and pushed into a hole by Bart, who always wins because, newsflash, HE’S A BEAR.
Hosting the show are Casey Anderson and Brandon Tierney.

Casy Anderson has been a wildlife expert for 25 years and has a degree in wildlife biology. Anderson founded Montana Grizzly Encounter and has rescued seven bears from inhumane captivity situations. His goal is to educate people about conservation of untouched areas and protecting wildlife. He is a personality on other Discovery Channel shows as well, mostly featured as a wilderness survival and bear expert.

Brandon Tierney is an entertaining sports personality known for being the host of CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. He is also known for being a commentator for College Basketball for 20 years.
The bears themselves were all rescued by Doug and Lynne Seus, who launched Vital Ground by purchasing 240 acres of prime grizzly bear habitat and made it into a sanctuary for the bears to roam and live normal bear lives.

With that said, the bears are treated very well on and off screen.

The show is overall hilarious and probably one of the best shows I have seen in a while. I was sad to discover that there was only one season of the show out so far, and the decision of whether or not to run a second season has not been made yet. For the world’s sake, they better make a second season.
It’s just too funny to watch as contestants try to be a bear better than a bear. No human can out bear a bear, especially if that bear is Bart. Bart is the best bear.