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File:Les stroud.jpg

Survivorman is a Discovery Channel show in which famed survivalist Les Stroud runs the audience through techniques and strategies to keep yourself alive when lost and lonely in the wilderness.

He visits many many different areas to get the point across, including Zambia, Alaska, the Amazon, the Florida Everglades, and so on and so forth. The point, of course, is that eating bugs is good.

Les Stroud is perhaps most famous for his strange habit of eating any of the local wildlife small enough (and some that even aren't) to fit in his mouth. After eating a Zambian grub, frak, I've gone done it again and almost copied the Man vs. Wild description word-for-word!

Understandably, that's an easy mistake to make. Man vs. Wild and Survivorman are, after all, Dueling Shows, though with the odd distinction of being on the same network; the reason being that new episodes of one can be shown during the off-season of the other, so you can get double your survival training during the year (Discovery Channel apparently believes survival training is that important).

There are three key differences between the shows, however:

  • In Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls has a camera crew, things are somewhat pre-arranged for him, and if things get too uncomfortable there's a way to bail him out. Les Stroud, on the other hand, does everything himself - he's his own camera man, and with any luck he'll be able to notify a rescue crew (with his on-hand satellite phone) before he gets too dead if need be.
  • In Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls' objective is to survive in the wilderness while searching for signs of civilization (a paved or worn road to follow, Park Rangers on duty, other travelers or people) to get him into a nearby town. This can take an indeterminate amount of time. As mentioned above, he can hit the panic button at anytime. Survivorman Les Stroud emphasizes surviving on his surroundings for a set period of time (usually 7 days) before being extracted by his crew. The typical focus is surviving rather than escaping, although Les does often travel from location to location for various reasons. Some episodes have him trying to find a major roadway he knows is in the area, or ending his stay by seeking out local settlements. Les reasons that staying put or going on the move depends on the specific situation.
  • In general, Man vs. Wild is a much more sensationalistic show, in that Bear Grylls will often look for specific circumstances in which to "survive" - such as being stranded on a live volcano in Hawaii - that, while interesting, is not something that the average outdoorsman is likely to experience. Les Stroud on the other hand often sets up the show with a reasonably realistic scenario, such as your bike being wrecked while mountain biking, getting lost while hiking, or being separated from your buddy on a hunting trip and then being forced to make it on your own. Related, Bear often finds things that, while technically "edible" are mainly gross, and will eat bugs and whatnot raw. Les at least tries to cook whatever he catches if possible.

Not to be confused with Man vs. Wild, as just discussed (though you still might have trouble keeping the two straight). Also not to be confused with that other, ahem, "survival" show.

This show contains examples of:

  • The Amazon - and other isolated locales.
  • Badass - Although Survivorman is somewhat less of a spectacle than Man vs. Wild, it's worth noting that Les has to survive on his own while toting 55 pounds of camera gear and documenting the process himself. If the behind-the-scenes special at the end of Season 1 is any indication, this requires a fairly stringent training regimen.
    • Once, when he was in the Amazon, he was being stalked by a jaguar. Les walked alone through the jungle in the pitch dark to the safety of a village over a mile away. Once safe inside the wall, he sits and listens to the thing stalking outside the palisade and marvels at how amazing this creature is - the one that just tried to eat him.
  • Brand X - Most notably, in the Sierra Nevada episode he uses a badly blurred-out Pringles chip can.
  • Catch Phrase - "I hate to kill any living thing, but in a survival situation all life is fair game". (Notably absent in the case of insects or fish)
    • Also, "I don't get paid enough for this."
  • The Cast Showoff - Les' ever-present harmonica. Les is moderately well known as a blues harmonica virtuoso in Canada, and has even released a couple albums.
  • Determinator: The man hikes out into the wilderness, with all that camera gear, and no food or water (usually). He then sets up his camera, takes a shot, walks back, packs up the camera gear, then continues on his way again. He does this for every shot in the show, usually while going for long periods of time with little or no food at all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? - Some of Les', er...reactions when he gets his hands on a good food source for the first time in a few days.
  • Dueling Shows - as mentioned, with Man vs. Wild
  • Goofy Print Underwear - Les' Scooby Doo boxers from the Costa Rica episode.
  • Improvised Weapon User - Les, in spades.
  • MacGyvering: Turning an old coffee can into a stove? Turning a gun into a lighter? Closing an improvised tent flap with a rock and some video camera tape? Making said tent out of a space blanket, part of the camera tape and a few sticks? An entire list will be sure to follow in the future.
    • Although this can get absurd at times. On the episode on Baffin Island, where he was required to carry a rifle due to safety reasons (polar bears are not, in fact, cuddly creatures who play ball with penguins and drink Coke), he was using the rifle and ammunition for starting fires, prying know, everything except what it was made for, which is rather useful when you need food.
    • He once started a fire by polishing the bottom of a coke can with chocolate. Although it worked, there were probably other tools in the same pile that would have sufficed for the same purpose, and he'd have been better off eating the chocolate. (Incidentally, the Myth Busters tried this method and couldn't make it work, not being survival experts)
  • Manipulative Editing - The cold open for the Northern Ontario showed a clip from later in the episode. Les has one arm in a sling to simulate an injury. He says something to the effect of "With only one arm, the activities I can undertake are severely limited. Fortunately, there is still one thing I can do. I can play with my harmonica." Of course, the cold open cuts away right at the "with my", with him reaching towards his pants.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic - The number of times Les stumbles on to a useful piece of trash or a freshly-dead meat source can look suspicious.
    • He has explicitly said several times on the show that he is continually reminded that virtually anywhere you can go on Earth, you will find some evidence that somebody has been there before. Spend any time at all outdoors doing similar things as Les and you will find that this is Truth in Television.
      • He even Lampshades this during what was probably the most Egregious such moment: in "Alaska", where he stumbles across half a salmon that had been discarded by an eagle.
    • Also during his Alaska week (although this only was discussed in the second season making-of episode): he was sitting on sea shore when some fishermen in a motorboat saw him and asked if he needed help. Clearly, he wasn't far enough away from civilization.
    • As mentioned in the above comparisons, Man Vs. Wild is a lot more action-oriented than Survivorman. Many viewers prefer the former because Bear looks like a better survivor than Les, because Bear can run around the woods, jump off a cliff, swim across a lake, eat a dozen nasty things, end up rescuing himself, and never complains about it. But that's all because Man Vs. Wild is mostly staged - he was usually near the road, working with his crew and sharing their supplies. Les had a real lack of food and water, had a ton of mundane work to do, and in some places there was a real chance that an injury or illness could lead to his death (he had a radio, but it won't help if he's miles away from his safety crew, under tree cover, with no nearby landmarks, and unable to walk). So while Bear can afford to take risks, Les had to be more careful about everything.
  • Shirtless Scene - While he usually tries to stay covered up and protected, depending on circumstances, Les sometimes works with his shirt off. Or pants - thank god for censor boxes.
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