‘Dual Survival’ shows the value of forethought

Adventure voyeurism is all the craze, especially on the Discovery Channel, which has commandeered just about every single cutting-edge trade in the book. Whether it’s truckers or deep-sea fishers or gun experts, we have become a nation that loves to look deeper into the fringes of the employment world. Does anything get the juices running more than a crabbing vessel shoving off the shore of Alaska or some so-called wilderness man getting dropped in the middle of nowhere?

Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury in "Dual Survival" - Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel

On Discovery Channel’s Dual Survival, we get more of the same adventure voyeurism, but with the added measure of sitcomish antics and actual helpful hints out in the field. The resulting series is a step below the engagin Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls, but far better than most of the other survivalist shows on television.

Following the adventurous travails of survival experts Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury, the show drops its two hosts into a seemingly impossible situation every week and essentially instigates them to survive. Spoiler alert: They always survive!

Like Man vs. Wild, each show is dedicated to a different landscapes or corner of the world. Some are international, while quite a few take place in the United States. Typically, the terrains are hot as hell, combining a rugged atmosphere with unique regional flora and fauna.

One of the best episodes from Dual Survival, which recently wrapped its second season with high ratings, is when Lundin and Canterbury head to the aptly named Hippo Island in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Lundin, ever the environmentalist, focuses on getting off the island with a man-made boat, while Canterbury tries to find some food to eat. The boat actually proves to be an impressive invention, and watching the two hosts float past hungry, hungry hippos is quite thrilling.

You have to give them credit, they certainly put their lives on the line (and the lives of their cameramen).

Each episode showcases the distinct personalities of Lundin and Canterbury, almost to the point where Dual Survival feels more like a re-run of The Odd Couple than a show hellbent on tackling Mother Nature. The added humor of seeing the obvious differences between the two men offers the show a unique characteristic, setting it apart from the stiff competition.

However, there are still some times when it’s difficult not to roll the eyes and furrow the brow. Lundin, for example, is a self-avowed primitive-living and urban preparedness expert. That anyone would actually designate themselves with that title is laughable; that Lundin keeps a straight face while showing his obvious expertise, as if everyone encounters angry hippos on a daily basis, is even more so.

If Lundin is the eccentric hippie of the pair (he doesn’t wear shoes and I’m guessing enjoys the company of wolves), then Canterbury is more the iconic hunter. He tracks animals and offers the show its commentary on how to find, kill and eventually eat.

Will Dual Survival make the cut and survive on television? I think so, because the show is not grounded on a gimmick. The draw here is not so much the landscapes or terrains that Lundin and Canterbury endure. The draw is Lundin and Canterbury themselves, and they are engaging enough to keep one’s interest.

Now go wrestle some hippos!

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
  • Dual Survival

  • Discovery Channel

  • Starring Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury

  • Bubble score: 3 out of 4

  • Click here to purchase Dual Survival: Season One on DVD.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

One thought on “‘Dual Survival’ shows the value of forethought

  • September 20, 2011 at 8:32 am

    “The resulting series is a step below the engagin Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls,..”

    I would love to see you qualify that statement and specify what you mean.

    If you are referring to actual survival information, then you are off. “Man vs. Wild” shows us what not to do to really survive. I’m sure Bear knows survival but he doesn’t present it responsibly in the show. Much of what he does is down the path of a quick death. Back flips into unknown water equals death…for example.

    He misrepresented (lied) his situations and is about as real as an MTV reality show. He is a showman, period.

    Cody and Dave don’t lie about their situation and they give useful information. Their two perspectives sometimes conflict with each other and that helps the critical thinking process which is key to survival.

    “Dual Survival” is way ahead of the Bear Grylls fluff (and dangerous) game.


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