The old Dolly Parton hit "9 to 5" isn't a tune worth humming for the blue-collar pioneers featured in "Filthy Riches." The series spotlights ingenious Americans who skirt a conventional workplace in favor of making a living in the deep rivers, soggy mud flats and wild backwoods of the U.S. Ray Turner, for example, has been catching eels in Delaware for 30 years. He uses a self-made smokehouse in the woods to cook the critters and sell them. Billy Taylor and his sons hunt for prized ginseng root in the Appalachians. Taylor, a fully licensed wild ginseng dealer, promotes sustainability by planting its berries. In Maine, Jim Campbell and Andy Johns make the coastal mud flats their office, as they dig for valuable bloodworms to sell to fishermen. And Greg Dahl and Albert DeSilva are burl hunters. A burl is a hard, unwieldy outgrowth on a tree, usually at the trunk. Burls have value because of the spectacular patterns found in them when cut open.
Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman explores the meaning of life, God, and many big questions in between in an effort to understand how religion has evolved and shaped society. A different divine subject is covered in each hourlong episode, titles of which include "Creation," "The Devil Inside," "Afterlife," "Apocalypse," and "Who Is God?" To explore these topics, host and narrator Freeman visits nearly 20 cities in seven countries to see some of the world's greatest religious sites, among them Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, India's Bodhi Tree, Mayan temples in Guatemala, and the pyramids of Egypt, and he immerses himself in religious experiences and rituals. "In some places I found answers, and others led to more questions. The constant through it all is that we're all looking to be part of something bigger than us. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that we certainly are," Freeman says.
"It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)," sang R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, and it's a proclamation that must resonate with the people profiled in this series. That's because they are all preparing for doomsday, whether it's caused by a natural disaster, a financial collapse or a nuclear winter, and their plan is to outlast and outlive any apocalyptic scenario. The series goes inside America's "prepping" subculture and introduces otherwise ordinary folks who are stockpiling food, water, weapons and whatever else they think is necessary in the event basic services should falter and society turns chaotic and violent. Also, each prepper's plan is reviewed by the consulting firm Practical Preppers, which analyzes its potential effectiveness in case the prepper's worst fears become reality.
Fishing for bluefin tuna is a way of life for many residents of Gloucester, Mass. "Wicked Tuna" takes viewers into the unrelenting North Atlantic waters infamously spotlighted by the novel-turned-feature film "The Perfect Storm," to follow captains who are relied upon by their families, their shipmates, and by Gloucester itself, to haul in boatloads of the large but elusive bluefin. The pressure to deliver is unforgiving -- the fishing season is short and tuna populations are dwindling -- but one "monstah" catch can reel in just as large of a payday.