Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season One – DVD Review

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Thom Beers
Philip Segal


Hugh Rowland ………. Himself
Rick Yemm ………. Himself
Alex Debogorski ………. Himself
Jay Westgard ………. Himself
T.J. Tilcox ………. Himself
Drew Sherwood ………. Himself

The Show

The History Channel has become known as just that – a cable channel devoted to historical events and persons. All programming that appears on that channel is real for sure. Surprisingly, though, there have been no “reality” TV shows on The History Channel. Perhaps the reason for that is that often times “reality” shows aren’t really “real” at all. So when
The History Channel announced that it was going to bring one of its first true “reality” shows on the air, it came as a surprise to many. That show was Ice Road Truckers. It had a lot of hype behind it, but why?

Truckers is a documentary-style reality television series that follows the competition and camaraderie of six truckers over a season on the ice road in Northern Canada, as they brave white-outs, thin ice, and the deadly cold to perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The cameras are there to capture everything, from the construction of this massive frozen highway and the preparation of the truck fleet, to the risky final days when the melting highway grows dangerously unreliable.

The job that these truckers have is virtually unknown, which adds to the uniqueness of this series. For two months, these “ice road truckers” haul vital supplies to diamond mines over frozen lakes that double as roads. Just miles beneath the Arctic Circle, the ice road trucking industry starts at a station just outside of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territory. It is responsible for supporting the diamond mines there.

Diamonds are a billion-dollar industry for Canada. So there is a lot of money to be made on these roads, but it comes at a cost. This is still one of the most perilous roads in the world after all. However, it does connect remote billion-dollar mining outposts in northern Canada with civilization 350 miles away. Truckers risk their lives as they carry ten thousand loads, which can weigh up to twenty-two tons. Jackknifing, breakdowns, and accidents are very common on these roads. Of course, these truckers are constantly reminded that death is near by as they hear ice crack beneath their trucks while they drive.

The six men featured on the first season are a mixture of rookies and veterans, which is a good combination. There is Hugh Rowland, a 20-year veteran of ice road trucking, who also owns three trucks that are driven by others; Rick Yemm, a brash, tattooed, second-year ice road trucker, who drives one of Hugh’s trucks; Drew Sherwood, an older veteran trucker but an ice road rookie, who drives another truck owned by Hugh; Alex Debogorski, a 26-year veteran and legend in the Ice Road trucking industry, who has the respect of all; Jay Westgard, a 7-year veteran of the ice roads at only 25 years old, who is given the extremely important job of hauling oversized rigs; and T.J. Tilcox, a 21 year-old ice road rookie, who doesn’t seem to be cut out for the ice roads but is still determined to run the entire season. Their unique personalities is one of two main reasons this series is so interesting to watch. The other, of course, is the actual jobs they perform for two months.

Ice road trucking is a gritty and dangerous job that very few people knew about, until now. Everything about this industry and the people that work in it is fascinating. Ice Road Truckers debuted on The History Channel to record numbers. In fact, the premiere was the most-watched show in that channel’s 12-year history. It shouldn’t surprise you that A&E actually owns The History Channel, because this series seems like any other A&E reality show. The bottom line is that Ice Road Truckers is a quality reality television series that is as real as you can get while watching television.


Disc One:

Episode 1 – Ready To Roll
Six ice road truckers are introduced, and ice road truckers are described as men driving eighteen wheelers who haul equipment and supplies from Yellowknife, Canada, across a temporary road comprised of portages and frozen lakes, the destination being one of three diamond mines located to the northeast of Yellowknife. Nuna Logistics construction crews began by defining and strengthening a 350-mile (560 km) highway that crosses permafrost and frozen lakes. When the ice over the frozen lakes reaches a thickness considered to be safe, the road is officially opened, and the truckers (beginning with Alex, who as stated above hauls the first load as a “good-luck charm”) begin carrying loads across what is considered to be the most dangerous road in the world.

Episode 2 – Destination: Diamond Mine
The road is stopped due to a traffic jam. Jay hauls a 17-ton water tank, while Hugh and Rick begin a season-long competition to see who can achieve the highest load count. Hugh and Rick deal with mechanical issues and T.J. loses the heat in his truck.

Episode 3 – Dash For The Cash
The road is closed due to a strong Arctic storm. Also, Alex transports a desperately-needed piece of equipment to the mine; a 44,000-pound diamond-ore crusher.

Episode 4 – The Big Chill
On the 18th day of the season a 50-ton fuel tanker flips over at the start of the ice road. Jay hauls three giant water purifiers to the De Beers diamond mine. Drew gets back out from the garage, while fellow rookie TJ weatherproofs his truck with duct tape.

Disc Two:

Episode 5 – Midseason Mayhem
The season is half way over with 4,000 loads taken but with 6,000 to go. Reckless speeding has led to blowouts on the ice road. More than one driver faces harsh repercussions after being caught speeding. A fuel tanker flip on the Ingraham Trail not only blocks traffic but also threatens the Yellowknife River with fuel spillage. T.J. leaves the yard with a new rig.

Episode 6 – Driving On Thin Ice
Jay takes a 95,000-pound diamond ore scrubber to the De Beers mine, the scrubber had to be delivered or else the mine couldn’t go into operation in the fall. TJ’s accident from the last episode was investigated, and emergency crews responded to a truck that partially went through the ice.

Episode 7 – The Rookie Challenge
Alex makes a run over a new road to return a mobile housing unit to Yellowknife, and is temporarily stranded when his truck loses momentum trying to climb a hill. Drew faces more challenges when his truck runs out of diesel fuel. Despite being refueled, the lines freeze and Drew is forced to wait in his hotel room while they thaw in the garage. Hugh on the other hand nearly misses a run due to a flat tire discovered during an oil change, but is able to get a replacement and hits the road. T.J. requests medical assistance as the conditions from his injury worsen, requiring him to be flown from the Dome Lake Camp back to Yellowknife for treatment.

Episode 8 – Into The Whiteout
There are still thousands of loads to be delivered to the various mines, but the end of the season is in sight. Complicating matters is the fact that an Arctic storm is bearing down on northwestern Canada. Because of storm, special permission is granted allowing five trucks to head to the mines instead of the usual four. Drivers Alex, Jay, Rick, T.J., and newcomer Cody form up in this special convoy. At a rest stop, T.J. oversleeps and the convoy continues on without him. T.J. later leaves with another driver from the company he was driving for. The four remaining drivers head north to the mines, arriving just as the storm comes in, and are forced to stay at the mines because the ice roads have been closed down. During the storm, three drivers – including T.J. – go missing.

Disc Three:

Episode 9 – The Big Melt
The season is starting to wind down as spring inches nearer and the ice covering the lakes begins to melt. There is a push to get vital loads up to the mines before the ice roads become unusable. Alex takes a housing unit over an ice road to a closed mine in the process of being cleaned up. Jay leads a special convoy to the remote village of Deline with vital supplies – facing a number of challenges throughout the trip. After the first trailer he takes causes him to be overweight, he switches loads with another driver with a lighter truck. Then one of the trucks in the convoy has a fuel tank that comes lose, gets stuck underneath the truck, and is punctured when it hits the ground. This forces the convoy to stop to clean up the spill as best they can, and to remove the tank from underneath his truck. Rick confronts Hugh about the issues he is having with his rig – specifically the non-functional heaters. A new leader in the “dash for the cash” appears.

Episode 10 – The Final Run
The ice covering the lakes continues to melt as warmer weather finally arrives, and the ice road season winds down. Hugh is involved in an accident when he is sideswiped by another truck. Not only is his truck crippled by the accident, but one of the bags of ammonium nitrate he was carrying begins leaking on to the ice – which melts the ice at an even faster rate. Jay takes an underground rock truck north to the Fortune mine. Trying to climb a steep hill he becomes stuck due to the way the load sits on his truck. Alex convinces officials to allow him to take a light load north on his own, it turns out to be his final load of the season as the road is closed soon afterwards. And a raven, sacred to the north, flies by TJ for a second time as he takes his final load north.

The Video:

The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is good with minimal distortion. The quality is a little better than what you would find on television. No major problems at all.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. It’s pretty standard quality for a TV show. The dialogue comes out crisp and clear.

The Extras:

Pilot Episode: “Ice Road Truckers”
This is the 46-minute documentary called “Ice Road Truckers” that aired in 2000 on The History Channel as part of the Dangerous Missions series. Based on the book Denison’s Ice Road by Edith Iglauer, the documentary detailed the treacherous job of driving trucks over frozen lakes, also known as ice roads, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. If you want to know how this series got its start, here is the documentary that started it in its entirety.

“Meet the Truckers” Featurette
This featurette runs 13 minutes long and it basically gives you a brief biography on the six truckers featured on the first season. You will hear most of this information throughout the first season, but here it is all in one place.

“Overcoming the Challenges” Featurette
This featurette runs 11 minutes long and it is features interviews with the producers of the show. They talk about show and what it is all about. Also, how the drivers were picked for the show, etc. Everything you wanted to know about how this idea from the pilot episode became a full series.

“Perils of the Ice Road” Featurette
This featurette runs 8 minutes long and it takes various segments that occurred during the season and puts them all together here. None of this is really new material as you can see the same stuff in the actual episodes. But if you just want to see a collection of highlights from the first season, here you go.

“Behind the Scenes” Featurette
This featurette runs 8 minutes long and it talks about the special effects used on the show. All of the computer animations and recreations of accidents that appeared on the show are explained in detail here.

“The Countdown” Featurette
This featurette runs 2 minutes long and it is pretty funny. They count down the number of times the truckers say a curse word. In just that two minute period, there were 56 curse words. There are a lot more than that littered throughout the first season, though.


You should definitely rent this show, at the very least, if you want to see quality reality television. This is a real show that can’t be missed. Most will like it enough to want to purchase this. If you have already seen the show on The History Channel, there are still enough extras here to recommend a purchase of this DVD set.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
Ice Road Truckers: Season One
(OUT OF 10)






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