I don’t typically watch reality shows so I was surprised at how caught up I became in Ax Men. It was like a soap opera except instead of beautiful, glamorous people you had sweaty, foul mouthed and foul tempered lumberjacks.
The show follows several different logging companies during the summer season. Each season the companies compete to see who is “King of the Mountain” by bringing in the greatest number of loads. There’s no prize for this other than bragging rights but that seems to be more than enough for the groups; they push themselves hard to outpace each other.
And then there’s the drama.
No reality show would be complete without people bickering, fighting, and generally making idiots of themselves. In season three the main source of drama comes from the Rygaard camp. A father and son outfit run by Craig and his son Gabe, Rygaard were underdogs in Season 2 and won the competition. They’re dead set on keeping their title but the father and son seem far more intent on yelling at each other than cutting timber. Add to that the decision to hire on two “greenhorns” and you’ve got all the makings for a disaster.
Standing outside of the competition is the Louisiana Swamp Man, Shelby Stanga, and Collins River Logging run by Joe Collins. While the other outfits work in the Pacific Northwest, these two do their business down in the bayous, salvaging old logs that sank back when log companies used to send their goods downriver.
Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent most of my life in the south and Midwest but I identified with these two the most. They didn’t engage in or put up with most of the nonsense that went on with the bigger name companies. Plus, Stanga drives around the bayou in a rickety old boat with his dog, Pawpaw, and if that isn’t endearing then I don’t know what is.
The combination of the unusual characters, the competition, and the melodrama (Craig and Gabe yelled. A lot.) make for some entertaining television. Plus, it was an interesting look into a business I knew nothing about. Although I will say that sitting on the couch, eating Cheese Puffs while watching these manly men cut down a forest did little for my fragile male ego, but that’s my hang up and I’m dealing with it.
Each episode is presented Fullscreen with the audio in Dolby Digital stereo. There were no problems with either the audio or video.
The extras are pretty much more of the same. They don’t really add anything to the show, but as they’re basically extra footage from the episodes, they are entertaining.
Ax Men isn’t a show that I’d ever watch again unless I happen to get season four in to review, but as far as reality shows go it wasn’t bad. If one enjoys shows like The Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers then I’d say Ax Men is for you. Recommended.
A&E Television presents Ax Men: The Complete Season Three. Running time: 10 hours 11 minutes. Rated NR. Released on DVD: August 24, 2010.