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.
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.
Dr. Brady Barr, a herpetologist by trade, travels all over the world to study reptiles and other creatures in their native habitats, often risking his life in the process. His mission is two-fold: to collect as much information as possible about the animals he studies and to inform the public about the state of the planet and the risk of extinction many animal species face. And, of course, there's another benefit to all his work: It makes great TV.
When bluefin tuna season ends in Gloucester, Mass., it's just beginning in North Carolina's Outer Banks, a perfect opportunity to pit North vs. South in a pro fisherman contest for the ocean's most lucrative prey. Venturing south are the best crews from Gloucester to take on top local fleets in the treacherous Outer Banks, where the weather is more unpredictable than up north, and the seas can be extremely rough. The Gloucester rod-and-reel vets must master "greensticking" -- trolling artificial squid from a 30-foot fiberglass pole to lure the elusive species to the surface. Top-dollar bluefin can be worth as much as $20,000 each, but a short season and small government catch quota means explosive rivalries surface quickly.