Each year adventurers make Alaska's mighty Yukon River their home for five weeks. They float downstream on homemade log rafts to sell firewood and other supplies to remote villages. The reality-documentary "Yukon River Run" presents hourlong episodes tracking the progress of various crews. As harsh winter months approach and threaten both safety and success, stakes are heightened as rafters endeavor to cash out and escape from the cold.
Extreme survivalists go head to head in a race across the Alaska wild. Using ingenuity, experience and just the gear they can carry in their packs, the participants have 60 hours to reach the finish point of each leg of the adventure -- the series features 13 legs -- and in addition to navigating treacherous glaciated river valleys, barren ridgelines, and high mountain peaks, the challengers battle hunger, dangerous predators and unpredictable weather. There is no grand prize awaiting each leg's winner, other than the pride of accomplishing a grueling feat. For season three, the 12 competitors are divided equally into four teams -- Military, Endurance, Alaskans and Lower 48.
Patrolling America's largest state is the job of roughly 400 troopers in one of the toughest law enforcement agencies in the nation. Essentially, these cops say, nearly every Alaskan resident is armed and they know how to use their weapons, which makes any scenario a trooper encounters a potentially fatal one. Follow along as the "blue shirt" Alaskan State Troopers police the towns and villages, and the "brown shirt" Alaska Wildlife Troopers enforce regulations covering both commercial and sport fishing and hunting activities.
Money and goods mean nothing to the people in "Live Free or Die." The series depicts a trend called "rewilding" -- the undomestication of humans -- and follows those who've rejected a mainstream existence to live off the land, in simple homes without electricity or running water. Being self-sufficient is a constant challenge, as obstacles like brutal weather and depleted food stocks require quick, innovative solutions. Modern pioneers include Colbert, a former financial adviser now living in a Georgia swamp; Gabriel, whose California lifestyle alternates between the mountains and the sea; and Tony and Amelia, who turned a hillside in the Blue Ridge Mountains into a garden.
Wilderness guide and survival instructor Hazen Audel attempts to stay alive in some of the world's most inhospitable places by using centuries-old techniques. Hazen joins tribes in the rainforests of Ecuador, the Kalahari Desert of Namibia, the mountains of western Mongolia, the frozen Arctic of Canada, in equatorial Kenya, and on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean to learn the skills firsthand. He hunts with bows and poisoned arrows, climbs harsh mountains in search of prey, and harvests food beneath shifting sea ice, among other challenges that push him to his limits.
"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.
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.