Best TV

dirty jobs logoWhile I’m on a jag of updating this neglected blog, I’ll throw in some kudos for, yes, TV shows. What I’ve discovered is that, if I’m going to have TV, I have to have cable, because the only things I like are on cable.

My currently favorite is Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. In each episode, Mike Rowe takes on several very dirty jobs. Usually literally dirty, where he ends up covered with mud, or soot, or much more unpleasant coatings. And dirty in the sense of hard work, jobs that most would think are unpleasant.

The jobs are interesting and presented fully and graphically, and intelligently (shoeing horses, artificially inseminating horses (more complex than you may have thought), checking wild geese in Alaska for bird flu, retrieving golf balls from the water traps in a golf course, scrubbing out the inside of a steam boiler on an antique ship, getting made up as a zombie by a movie special-effects person, herding buffalo in Montana). Rowe jumps right in and does what needs to be done (but not always without whining).

Mike Rowe has a droll sense of humor. And he easily befriends whomever he is working with. (He lives in SF and I keep hoping I’ll run into him somewhere and see if he’s really as nice and interesting as he seems on TV.) I can’t remember any of his good lines off-hand, so here are some quoted on the website:

  • “I have mud in places no man should.”
    “If my mother sees this, she’ll hunt you down.” (I saw this one — he was on a fishing boat having to inch his way out on a very dangerous-looking spar– if that’s what they call those things).
  • “We’re just a couple of guys squeezing the poo out of chickens …” (He talks a lot about poo.)
  • “I can’t finish my thought because I have to put my finger in this alligator’s bottom.” Update 1/8/pm: this evening they re-ran this episode. It seems that the way to sex an alligator is to stick a finger into his or her (undetermined at this point, obviously) rectum to feel the genitalia — not visible from the outside. He was getting 4-foot-long alligators tossed to him, and he had to grab each one behind the head, fast (before they could think about it and bite him, he was told) , sex them, and pass them on. So he was trying to say something but got an alligator tossed to him. Oh, and he didn’t say “bottom” — they bleeped it.

The show, and Rowe, have a lot of respect for the people who are hosting him and his crew, and for the work that they do.

He also has respect for his crew. He doesn’t pretend that somehow it’s just him and us. So we often see – and he taMike Rowelks about — the crew, too, especially when they’re all crammed into some small space, or traipsing around in difficult conditions outside. When a cameraman slipped in knee-deep muck in Alaska, we saw it. When Rowe was crammed into the small, cannister-like, soot-covered boiler of the ship, trying to scrub it when he could barely move, he turned his tiny camera on the cameraman crammed into an even smaller, more joint-challenging adjoining space filming him. Recently he helped some abalone farmers in Monterey Bay and they ended by sauteeing some abalone; he went around giving bites to all the crew who were filming it.

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2 responses to “Best TV

  1. there was one where he was doing something with alligators or crocodiles in Florida on fan boats and the camera boat tipped over and got all the very expensive gear wet (and probably ruined)… it’s totally interesting how they incorporate stuff like that into the show (I wish Planet Earth did more of that instead of just doing it all at the end).

  2. Ah – yes – that reminds me that in part of the abalone episode they were out in a boat collecting kelp for the abalone to eat, and one of the camera crew, or maybe it was the producer, was seasick — which we saw, with the most, well, nauseating elements fuzzed out. Which Mike then referred to when offering tastes of grilled abalone.

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