Bear Grylls drinking his own urine went viral when he chugged the stuff to prevent dehydration in Man vs. Wild. Last night NBC tried to tap into the popularity of Bear and this most personal beverage in the inaugural episode of his new reality show, “Get Out Alive.”
Before the 10 cast members got to the climactic final challenge of drinking said urine, the episode began with contestants discussing personal tragedies. Their experiences ranged from a near-fatal motorcycle accident, to beating a crystal-meth addiction, to overcoming obesity. This tried-and-true reality show device to establish that the contestants are just like you and me, and to garner sympathy from the audience, just felt forced.
The premise of the show has an inherent but intentional conflict. The contestants are tasked with helping each other make it through the difficult obstacles that Bear and the wild present, while simultaneously competing against one another for the $500,000 grand prize.
The show utilizes a classic reality show "confessional” to flesh out some of the on-camera drama. Out in the wild, however, cast members don’t have a comfy confessional booth where they can bicker about each other. Even when they're gossiping, they’re roughing it.
The midway point of the show was marked by Bear’s Survival Tip of the Week, which although brought to you by Walmart, was actually quite useful. Bear does well as a host, but as a dedicated fan of Man vs. Wild, I frequently found myself wanting him to jump into the mix and school these amateurs in the ways of survival.
At the end of the show, Bear tells the pee-chugging contestants to imagine it’s a nice cold beer, a trick that always got him through it. If you were a fan of Man vs. Wild, you too would do well to pretend this show is something it's not.
As reality television, "Get Out Alive" has potential. But rightfully so, NBC doesn’t have the contestants attempt anything close to the near-death escapes that made Grylls famous. The move to network television may have widened the potential viewership for Bear, but this first installment felt shallow. The entire first episode can be watched below.