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The breathtaking beauty of Alaska sometimes hides the fact its winters can be incredibly harsh, especially for those who live in the state's outlying areas. "Alaska: The Last Frontier" perfectly illustrates this reality, as the series profiles life for the Kilcher family in the isolated community of Homer. For four generations the Kilchers have lived off what their 600-acre homestead has provided, but cultivating that living is never easy. Led by patriarch Atz Kilcher and his brother Otto, the family spends the short summer and fall gardening, hunting and fishing for food, gathering supplies from the land and preparing their animals for the winter. Viewers, who may or may not have a fancy phone by their side while watching on their big-screen high-def TV, also see the Kilchers living off the grid, where running water and electricity aren't daily staples, nor is contact with the outside world. Atz, by the way, is the father of music superstar Jewel.
Street racing in the U.S. is the subject of this docu-reality series, which purportedly provides an inside look into the action both on the road and behind the scenes. In Oklahoma City, for example, racers boast having the fastest street cars in the country, and the racing, they say, comes first -- before family, before friends and before work. From a 1969 Chevy Nova to a race-ready farm truck, the vehicles -- and their drivers -- come in all shapes and sizes and have one thing in common: the need for speed.
Although the state's mention in the title was dropped after the first season, Alaska still plays a major role in Discovery Channel's top-rated show. It follows gold miners, inexperienced as some may be, hoping to strike it rich in the wilds of The Last Frontier and beyond. For their first effort, a crew led by Todd Hoffman and his father, Jack, sunk $250,000 into their dream and came away with just $20,000 worth of gold. The dismal summer was filled with injuries, malfunctioning equipment and constant fighting among the greenhorn miners, yet their serious case of gold fever trumps any talk of giving up and leads to new operating plans in order to salvage their dream. The series also keeps tabs on the efforts of brash youngster Parker Schnabel, veteran Dakota Fred and longtime Yukon resident Tony Beets to hit the mother lode at separate sites.
Discovery Channel takes the ubiquitous survival show theme to the next level by stripping it to its bare essentials. In "Naked and Afraid," complete strangers -- usually a man and a woman -- meet in a very unique way: They're stranded in a dangerous, desolate location, without food or water, and they're completely naked. Each episode follows the adventurers as they attempt to survive on their own with nothing but a personal item and the knowledge that the only prize is their pride and sense of accomplishment. Because there is no other choice, competitors quickly get to know one another -- and their surroundings -- and hope that their instincts, survival skills and intestinal fortitude serve them well.
The gold rush in Alaska isn't confined to the state's precious ground. It's taking place on the sea ... or more accurately, on the bottom of the frigid Bering Sea. This series, from the creators of the Emmy-winning "Deadliest Catch," follows four gold dredges and their eccentric and driven crews who risk their lives to find as much gold as possible before winter sets in and it's too dangerous to dive. The custom-built rigs, some barely seaworthy, include an 80-foot barge run by the most successful gold dredger in Nome, Alaska, and a modified skiff that seats only two people.
Adventurous builders battle the elements to build unique homes in remote areas.
Back where their gold-mining adventures began, "Gold Rush" alumni Dakota Fred and son Justin persevere in the face of long odds, risking their lives for a fortune they may never realize. Assisted by a team of intrepid divers, mountaineers and bush mechanics, the Dakota Boys explore the white water rapids of McKinley Creek in Alaska, diving deep in raging torrents with a suction dredge. Not only could one wrong move prove deadly, but the guys also face wild animals, extreme temperatures and hypothermia.
This spinoff of "Street Outlaws" is set on the mean streets of Memphis, Tenn., where fast-talking, bet-taking JJ Da Boss and his family and friends have ruled the underground racing scene for decades. Pride and honor define Team Memphis, despite JJ being well-versed in the art of hustle. They are "trying to beat ya, not cheat ya" and all challengers are welcome to take on a family that rarely fails.
Intrigued by legendary mysteries and driven by curiosity, Josh Gates is on a mission for answers. "Exhibition Unknown" chronicles his global adventures as he investigates iconic unsolved events, lost cities, buried treasures and other puzzling stories. Armed with a degree in archaeology, a quick wit and a thirst for action, Gates investigates recent developments before embarking on a detailed exploration. Whether he's trekking through Fiji in search of Amelia Earhart's remains or diving the deep seas of Panama to locate Captain Morgan's pirate ship, Gates' roughshod expeditions lead him one step closer to the truth.
Moonshiners have been around in the U.S. since the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s. Surprisingly, there are still a number of Americans who make moonshine -- an illegally produced distilled beverage -- mainly in the Appalachian region of the country. This docuseries tells the stories of people who brew their shine, often under the cloak of darkness in woods near their homes, and the authorities who try to keep them honest. The show allows viewers to witness practices rarely seen on television, including firing up the still for the first time -- a moonshiner's rite of passage. The show also introducers viewers to moonshining legends such as Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton.
Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman deal in rusty gold. The proprietors of Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas buy, restore and resell forgotten, derelict American cars, everything from 1931 Model A cars to '73 Trans Ams. As "Fast N' Loud" shows, Rawlings is the mastermind, a deal-maker with an eye for relics worth their efforts, and to find them the guys search barns, fields and auctions across the U.S. Kaufman manages most restorations. He's a fabricator and self-taught mechanic, whose techniques and design skills first endeared him to Rawlings and kick-started the partnership. At the end of Season 12, that partnership ended when Kaufman exited Gas Monkey, leaving Rawlings as the series' sole star.
So exactly how hard is it to find a needle in a haystack, anyway? And can water dripping on your forehead really drive you nuts? Those are the kinds of questions, myths and urban legends that are put to the test in this humorous series that seeks to find out which myths are true and which are not.
Featuring veterans suffering from PTSD and how fishing has helped them cope with their struggles.
Rick Murphy covers the state of Florida in search of the prize saltwater fish.
Hosts Justin Leake and Travis Holeman highlight the coastal lifestyle and diverse fishing opportunities in Panama City Beach. Fla.
Popular Animal Planet personality Jeremy Wade, the nine-season star of the network's top-rated series "River Monsters," returns to waterways across the globe to investigate reports of the unimaginable and unexplained. He takes viewers on journeys beneath the water to remote areas, to islands lost in time and out into the open ocean to investigate reports that include entire fish species suddenly disappearing; unexplained sightings of mythical beasts; once thriving rivers now empty; and genetic oddities that may have produced the biggest monsters yet.
Scott Martin and a challenger go head-to-head in a unique fishing tournament format.
Fast and strong homemade robots face off in battles until one is declared the champion.
Before complaining about the market price of Alaska king crab, check out this gripping documentary series, revealing the mortal perils and intense discomfort that fishing crews face on the Bering Sea to catch the delicacy. Those perils include 40-foot waves, 700-pound crab pots that can easily crush a careless crewman, and freezing temperatures around the clock.
Adventurer Ed Stafford has walked the length of the Amazon River -- he is the first person to accomplish that -- so perhaps being stranded on a desert island near Fiji without clothes, food, water and tools and attempting to survive for 60 days isn't that daunting. The only possessions he does have are cameras, and so viewers are provided a fly-on-the-wall perspective of Ed's attempts to find food, make fire, process water to drink, and build a shelter -- among many other tasks that will help him stay alive.
Back to the beautiful state of Alaska for another reality-documentary series, this one set in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area home to thousands of native animals... and a handful of people. In 1980, the U.S. government banned human occupation in the refuge, and only residents in seven permitted cabins are allowed to remain. The series depicts the daily rituals of four families living in isolation and contending with bitter weather, frustrating setbacks, and aggressive wildlife in an unspoiled and unforgiving wilderness. The nonconformists include Heimo Korth, the "godfather of the final frontier," and wife Edna; Bob Harte, who has spent 40 years living by his own rules; and young couple Bob and Ashley Selden, who admit that they've survived by trial and error, learning day by day the harsh reality of frontier living.