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Friday, November 12, 2010

NY Times Review: Sarah Palin's Alaska, How’s That Outdoorsy Stuff Working for Ya?

Sarah Palin says her new series on TLC is not a reality show, and she has a point. The show is not an outdoorsy version of celebrity-dysfunction shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” or “The Hasselhoffs.”
“Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which begins on Sunday, is odder than that. The snowcapped mountains, pine forests and shimmering lakes are majestic, the Palin children are adorable, and the series looks like a travelogue — wholesome, visually breathtaking […]
But mostly, the eight-part series lives up to its title — the camera follows the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee as she fishes, hunts, dog-sleds and rock-climbs. It’s a nature series for political voyeurs: viewers get to observe Ms. Palin observing nature. And to her credit, the governor doesn’t use the camera crew to recast her image or pad gaps in her résumé. She doesn’t pore over position papers in a book-lined study, phone foreign leaders or even watch “Jeopardy.”
Mostly she has fun outdoors. That includes white-water rafting, kayaking, salmon fishing and climbing glaciers. “You know what they say,” she says to the camera after a disappointing fishing trip. “A poor day of fishing beats even a great day of work.” […]
The TLC program highlights her physical bravery, but the series’s existence points to a different kind of courage: Ms. Palin is not afraid to be herself.  Yet Ms. Palin allows the camera to record moments that may well make her critics snicker, particularly now that Bristol is back in the limelight as an underdog contender on “Dancing With the Stars.” 
One day a hired seaplane lands on the lake at the back of their Wasilla house to take the family salmon fishing and bear watching. The Palins watch, awestruck, as brown bears lope, swim, growl, fight. At one point a bear seems on the verge of charging the boat, a danger that Ms. Palin says “keeps you on your heels.” […]
Perhaps Ms. Palin’s most impressive feat is climbing a glacier with a guide and her husband, a rock-climbing adventure that is obviously arduous and scary. She says out loud many times that she is afraid she can’t make it to the top. Viewers may fear another risk; her high-pitched voice is so piercing it could trigger an avalanche.
Sarah Palin’s Alaska: TLC, Sunday 9/8 pm 

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