The Great Human Race, episode 1

New show started today, National Geographic’s ‘The Great Human Race’.
Two experts, an archaeologist and survivor instructor are attempting to live like and ancient ancestors.
Unlike many of these shows, they are not using regular people but folks who know what they are doing which will make the show probably less amusing and interesting for the general public, but rather interesting to those of us interested or obsessed with history.
Also interesting is that it is, in theme at last, similar to 10.000 BC, the UK show that has just started its second season.
And although you’d expect the US to be a lot more afraid about doing dangerous and risky things (because of their suing culture), they seem to have fewer issues with health & safety as UK shows.
Just like in ‘Naked and afraid’, these two people will actually hunt and kill animals and eat and drink from the land and water in stead of having a professional butcher do this work or have water supplied to them by the production team.
I’m always amazed at how far things are allowed to get out of hand in ‘Naked and afraid’, so that promises something good for this show.
I’ve always found ‘Naked and afraid’ interesting because it made me think of our ancient ancestors, and now they have removed the naked part and added history to it for this show, sounds good to me.

First episode starts in Africa, where the journey of human kind began.
First thing I don’t like is the outfits.
If you go this far, you might want to go for something a bit less modern looking, or just naked.
I somehow don’t think this is what our ancestors wore.
Bermudas, short dress, flip flops, nose ring?
Nah.
They found outfits that are sort of matching the theme but are completely unauthentic.
Why not go the whole way?
Without bare feet you’re missing out part of the experience.
Either do it right or just wear whatever is most comfortable and don’t even try.

First episode is pre-stone or even fire age, the era of the Homo habilis.
So no tools besides rocks and sticks, no fire, nothing.
2.6 million years ago.

First job; find water.
I like the combination of survival and archaeology, these two branches go very well together.
I also love how much information they stuff into this show and now learning about the Hadza people and Baobab tree.
What a stunning tree.

And fascinating to see our ancestors getting into that tree and surviving by sort of living in a nest, like birds.
I can imagine our ancestors doing that.

I’m too cynical and have too much distrust in tv to actually believe they stood face to face with a tiger without any kind of protection.
I’m pretty sure the tv crew had a guard with them carrying a rifle or some sort.
Scary and exciting tv is fun but actually risking the lives of participants and tv crew is not something most tv shows tend to do.

I love that they actually just drink water they find, something that is not without risk.
Yet so important to make the experience complete.
We’re never quite sure how real these scenes are and if there isn’t a part of it that has been staged for tv, but it sure seems a lot more authentic than the shows that just supply their participants with fresh tap water or have a camouflaged garden hose hidden somewhere.

The show gives us a relatively good idea of what life was for our ancestors.
Day in day out, looking for food, for water and shelter.
A harsh life but much like the life of most animals and they probably didn’t have much time to consider their situation.

We may never know if the carcass they find is actually left there by a lion or the production team or if the lion was actually till nearby and if they were in actual danger at any time, but kudos to the two people to actually just dig in.
Raw dead animal, they eat parts, they drink the blood, they start chopping bits off.
Quite nice to see these professionals deal with it in stead of most modern contestants who would probably scream, squeal and run away from this dead animal.

Conclusion; Although they missed a few tricks, it is educational and interesting.
It is also refreshing to see experts give this a go in stead of hapless members of the public.

Next week we’re going to see the Homo Erectus at work.
More tools, learning to hunt in stead of scavenge and…. fire!
I’m looking forward to it.

Ep105_002_GreatHumanRaceThe

Goksu River Delta, Silifke, Mersin Province, Turkey- Bill Schindler and Cat Bigney climb and wade through a patch of towering reeds, looking for a way out. (Photo Credit: National Geographic Studios/Tahria Sheather)

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