A Discovery Channel show in the same vein as Survivorman and Man vs. Wild, with the draw of offering two experts with very different backgrounds trying to live together while showcasing their individual talents and methods for survival. Yes, it is in fact The Odd Couple meets Man vs. Wild.
Going into its seventh season, the show is now hosted by Grady Powell (a former US Army Green Beret) and Bill McConnell (a primitive survival expert, continuing the show's Odd Couple approach to survival situations. The show now places new emphasis on a 72 hour survival window (citing statistics saying that chances of survival significantly drop beyond this time period) that the hosts must endure.
The show originally featured Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury demonstrating their differing philosophies towards survival. Cody, is a hardcore naturalist who has worn neither shoes, long pants or underwear in the past 22+ years and attempts to live in harmony with nature as much as humanly possible. His partner for the first two seasons, Dave, is an army veteran and professional hunter, along with being every gruff southern stereotype that has ever existed.
Dave was replaced in Season 3 by Joe Teti, a former special forces operator.
Cody Lundin was fired by Discovery in February 2014. According to Lundin, it was due to differences over health and safety concerns. He was replaced by Matt Graham, a primitive survival specialist who is even more hardcore about being close to nature than Cody is.
This series provides examples of:
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality: In one episode, Cody and Dave come upon a pair of large snakes mating. Cody is against eating them because it would disrupt the natural order. Dave agrees to leave them alone because he likes snakes and because they're not hurting for food, but notes that in a real survival situation they wouldn't be allowed to indulge such kindness.
- Sometimes they'll go the other way and more openly acknowledge that they're in a contrived situation to demonstrate survival techniques than, say, Man vs. Wild does. This includes one time where Cody helps Dave heal an open wound even though Dave hadn't been injured. How do they create an open wound? Dave gashes his own arm with his knife.
- And the wound itself is healed by setting it on fire with black gunpowder.
- And to make it arguably MORE badass is that the first time, it didn't work properly. So he did it AGAIN.
- Animal Gender-Bender: In Africa, Dave keeps talking about how dangerous a bull elephant can be when protecting his herd. This is incorrect, as elephant herds are matrilineal and led by a senior female while males live alone or in loose bachelor herds until mating season.
- Deserted Island: One of the many settings of the show.
- Ditzy Genius: Cody both embodies this and subverts it. You may roll your eyes when he talks about how walking barefoot brings him closer to the earth, but he knows exactly what he's doing. Like when he blows Dave away by making a 70 degree shelter in the middle of a snowy night. As Dave puts it, "He might be a bush hippie, but he ain't no dummy.".
- Lampshaded in an advertisement for the show, which outright says "Always listen to the hippy."
- Does Not Like Shoes: As noted above, Cody goes barefoot throughout the series, unless doing so would be truly dangerous (snowy environs, in which he'll wear socks, and in one episode he fashioned a set of sandals so he could walk across sharp volcanic rocks without cutting his feet to ribbons).
- Matt, Cody's replacement, wears sandals he makes himself. But unlike Cody, Matt doesn't wear much in the way of clothing. In hotter climates, Matt wears nothing more than a deer hide around his waist and a bandana on his head, much to Joe's discomfort. Also unlike Cody, Matt isn't averse to wearing normal footwear (he wears boots in snowy environments, but otherwise mostly sticks to sandals), and he wears long pants in cooler weather.
- Genius Bruiser: Cody can lecture you on how mitochondria work, can build self-heating shelters and explain the physics of how radiation works, and looks like he could rip your head off without thinking twice.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Joe shoots a deer straight through the heart with a rifle he's unfamiliar with, a scope that is zeroed to an unknown distance, and the only bullet he had.
- It Tastes Like Feet: Dave's reaction to literally everything Cody tries to feed him, usually after Cody has gone to great lengths to subtly describe the meal as something unbelievably gourmet.
- Occasionally Cody himself admits that some of the more au naturale things he scrounges up do taste particularly awful.
- Kayfabe: Much like Man vs. Wild, many moments of the show are staged. Unlike Man VS. Wild, however, the show is generally a bit more open about it, with the survivalist acknowledging the contrivances of some setups. Though, the times they tend to "conveniently" bump into some form of civilization at the end of episodes is never brought attention to.
- MacGyvering: After being left an abandoned, broken-down VW in the middle of a Peruvian desert, Dave refers to it as "a supermarket" and proceeds to make an arsenal of nifty items from it, including a slingshot. This is one of the running themes of the show, with the guys being left odd items that any hiker or traveler might have if lost in the woods (usually a knife, a flashlight or, on one occasion, a condom).
- That episode had a few other examples as well, like Cody making a pair of sandals from a tire tread (even he isn't willing to walk over sharp volcanic rock barefoot), lighting a fire with a parabolic mirror from a headlight, and making a water filter with a plastic water bottle, a wad of felt, and sand and rocks.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: Joe is a former member of the US Special Forces.
- Odd Couple: Pretty much the set-up of the show.
- Real Men Eat Meat: It's not that Dave won't eat anything else — he will, he can't afford not to. However, he still generally prefers meat over anything else edible that Cody can scrounge.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Joe Teti, a special forces veteran who nearly always advocates for charging through whatever situation the show puts him in, confesses that his drink of choice is peach wine coolers. Matt's reaction is suitably incredulous.
- Joe also confesses to having a weak stomach in the same episode.
- Reckless Sidekick: Dave to a T. Cody's hope that Dave's unwise choice to go out and check traps at midnight in the dead middle of winter wouldn't be a repeat occurrence hasn't materialized. Since then, Dave has wrestled an alligator, hunted a rattlesnake, and stirred up a nest of wild bees to get honey. Cody has not been pleased with any of these activities, especially not the gator wrestling.
- In Season 3, Joe Teti has become the new Reckless Sidekick, replacing Dave.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: It's Man vs. Wild WITH TWO MEN!
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Downplayed, with Dave's Red Oni to Cody's Blue Oni.
- Joe's Red to Matt's Blue.
- Bill (red) vs. Grady (blue). Grady often comments on how emotional Bill is and the mood swings Bill goes through.
- Take That!: Joe made several thinly-disguised digs towards Cody during Matt's debut episode. It's not known exactly why Cody left the show, but one thing that is clear is that Joe was completely fed up with Cody by the time they split.
- Think Unsexy Thoughts: Used for a joke in one episode. The guys start off on a raft, and Cody is seasick. Dave asks how he's dealing with it, and one of Cody's responses is "I'm thinking about baseball. I've heard that helps."