The state of Alaska and the genre of reality docu-TV have almost animalistic mating urges. They just can’t stay away from one another, which is how we at home came to know too much about crab fishing, gold prospecting, grizzlies, snow machines, ice-road truckers, chartered plane pilots and the taste of the season’s first whale blubber. Add to that a certain out-of-work politician and the humdrum patrols of the state’s troopers, and it’s been a whole lot of defrosted drama. Yet very little of it has made for memorable watching.
The real trick is to match the adrenaline and wonder of “Deadliest Catch,” Discovery’s manliest and most rewarding hit to date, which has tossed on the darkened seas for several seasons of crab harvests with a modern, Melvillian sense of doom.
“Bering Sea Gold,” premiering on Discovery Friday night, doesn’t seem at first like it has crossed any new frontier, relying on elements and structure familiar to the form. Enticingly (to the network), it combines the ocean and the gold and the cold and the reactive testosterone among bad-tempered desperados.