I’ll confess upfront that having grown up in the midwest I am not well-coded for the Southern Redneck format, and caught myself rolling my eyes at the onset of the first episode. However, just shy of halfway through I found myself chuckling and then peeling off some full-caliber knee-slapping laughter. The show is a treasure and the cast a real gem. I only set out to watch two episodes, but stayed for all eight of season one and pouted when it was over.
The show is set in Georgia. These folks test out all measures of survival apparatus with live demonstrative scenarios that are very reasonable and realistic in most cases. In others, the scenarios are tongue-in-cheek though strictly for the entertainment value. Even at the end of those tongue-in-cheek scenarios you still have a demonstration and a complete product test. There is plenty of yee-hawing, high-fiving, smashing, breaking, burning, and pyrotechnics galore.
Daniel is, as I recognize him, the leader of the group who doles out assignments to the other three cast members who then carry them out. I think that Daniel serves in a necessary role as a sanity check for all pending operations.
Steve is a badass who gets beat up on a good bit like a crash test dummy for many of the scenarios. You can see him body-breaching doors, rolling cars, taking on the demo roles that required getting banged up a bit, though the brother is virtually indestructible.
Brandon is the group’s front-man, the main comedic relief with a bodacious beard and booming baritone Trace Adkins-like voice. He is the major personality of the group and whenever he appears on the screen you’d best get to grinning and stay that way. Joking aside I suspect that Brandon is a rather intelligent brother.
Ms. Mikki is the pretty face and the product specialist/procurement agent. She is like the Peterson in John Wayne’s movie The Green Berets. She knows what to find and where to find it — ask and ye shall receive! She also participates equally with the guys in support of demos and scenarios.
The cast tests fire starters, fire extinguishers, fire protection gear and clothing, water survival kit, hurricane protection barriers, all types of woodland survival equipment — the list is extensive. I found particularly interesting how they tested different snakebite-resistant footgear with a live timber rattlesnake controlled by a professional snake handler. The snake struck the boots repeatedly with yellow venom slinging through the air — a very convincing demonstration.
Probably my favorite episode was the one in which they tested hurricane-resistant barriers, glass windows, doors, and the like, including a thin barrier of some surprisingly robust material. In order to simulate projectile debris, they used a potato gun — yes, a cannon that fired potatoes — that could launch a potato at variable velocities matching the wind speeds of various category hurricanes.
They fired a potato with the cannon set to 130 miles per hour at a 1/2-inch glass barrier to simulate debris carried by a category four storm. I never would have guessed it, but that potato punched all the way through the glass barrier! I won’t get into much more detail so as not to compromise the enjoyment of the episode.
The cinematography of the series is very good by my estimate. The camera work is spot-on and never misses any of the action. The budget appeared to be pretty decent; I didn’t note any deficit in any of the scenarios or other apparent skimping. I also took notice, on several occasions, of the cast’s attention to safety during their operations, a thing that impressed me about them.
In summary, nowhere in this series did I consider any activity block-checked or a waste of time. Every event had merit, was interesting, informative, and entertaining. I also loved how the cast included their families as often as they did. Brandon’s daughter Lyla-Grace is a real prize. I can grant the series high marks in good conscience and can recommend it to anyone. I think anyone who is not genuinely entertained by the show… well, they just might be a generally unhappy sort that needs to be tossed up in the air a couple of times by their gramps to lift their spirits a little.
By Almighty God and with honor,
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