Discovery has long had a fascination with the state of Alaska, and for a pretty good reason when you really stop to think about it. This is as remote as you can be while still being in America, and “Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice” is the American Dream in its rawest form: Watching people try to find their fortune in ways that only a few would think of.
The season premiere on Friday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time should feel pretty familiar to you, at least if you watched and enjoyed the show the first time around. The premise revolves basically around watching a series of teams take part in the difficult practice of gold-dredging, which is difficult from so many vantage points. You have to be okay with the isolation of it, and at the same time the low temperatures, dangerous waters, and the long hours that the process of finding and then securing gold can take. Obviously, though, the results are worthwhile for those who take part. While we’re not going to spoil how much gold one team found in the premiere, it’s impressive.
There are two reasons that we remain fascinated with a show covering something such as gold-dredging: The geography and the sociology of it. There is still something other-worldly about seeing a place constantly surrounded by snow on TV, and it even feels different from the similarly-located “Deadliest Catch” in many ways. It’s a different sort of danger, and a different sort of product being found. The documentary style continues to give you a great sense of place and the conditions. (To simulate, try to watch with your heater off and a fan blowing in your face!)
As someone who would never want to go and do this, it’s curious finding out why these people would, and it’s a pretty good introduction for folks who may not have seen the first few episodes of the show. The story of Zeke Tenhoff and The Clark operation is the most fascinating part of this for us, mostly because there is the element of tragedy in there thanks to the death of Zeke’s longtime friend, and how he must try to reconcile his grief with his business and the relationships he has with those around him. The human story is what keeps you coming back, given that otherwise you would be seeing the same thing play out week after week.
The entire “Bering Sea Gold” franchise is worth a watch if you have that sort of adventure streak in you, but maybe not to the extent that you want to get off of the couch and actually do it. What we continue to take from it is simply that there is something so valuable that can come from a place that we barely even consider in our everyday lives; while there may be danger in it, there is also excitement (for both the participants and us) as you witness their hope for a better life.