So, Bear brought Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson to the Italian mountains of Thunder (Croda Dei Toni) in the Dolomites mountain range, the same mountain range he and Hudson traversed last week. The distance between where he and Hudson were and where he and Ferguson were eludes me. Snow is everywhere in that part of the Dolomites. Croda Dei Toni’s located in south Tyrol and Belluno, in Italy. The great Russian short story writer Anton Chekhov thought no country more beautiful than Italy.
Running Wild with Bear Grylls lacks the adventure of Man Vs. Wild, as I wrote last week, but not the charm. Two days in the mountains seems barely enough time to familiarize oneself with it. Modern living allows for little time in nature. People, when away in nature, long for the comforts of home; but while at home people long for nature. The producers crafted a relatable narrative, one of the power of believing in oneself and doing what no one thought one could do. One really feels amazed when he or she does something that previously seemed impossible to do. The devil thoughts that plague us all often stop us from reaching our full potential in many areas of our life. Everyone knows those thoughts. It’s that voice inside your head that repeats over and over that you can’t do whatever it is you want to and so you don’t, that the boy or girl you love will never really love you, or that some trifle at work that reflects poorly on you feels like a catastrophic even when it’s only and truly a trifle, barely a blip, a product of the unpleasant reality man and woman created for themselves for some insane reason.
We all could use two days in the mountains with Bear. Some highlights from the episode:
-Big risk: avalanches. I bet a mongoose with a fedora on his head that no avalanche would happen. An avalanche would’ve brought about critical injuries for both the hikers, and that kind of exciting hook in the beginning of a Bear Grylls show (or Les Stroud) always assured the viewer the hook was merely a hook. Les Stroud spent an episode fretting about polar bears. My two friends and I imagined an ending in which a relieved Les leaves the arctic area by helicopter only to find a polar bear piloting. Crash fade to black. Of course, Bear intentionally triggered avalanches. Jesse Tyler Ferguson held a lit avalanche explosive in his hand until it nearly blew his hand off, but it didn’t. The mongoose won a jar of jellybeans from me. He gazed admiringly at his prize, looked me in the eye, and smashed it. He made an obscene gesture and strutted out of my house.
-Ferguson repelled slowly down the side of a sheer rockface. Bear easily jumped from the top to the bottom. Later, they climbed up the side of a mountain. Bear reminded Jesse to lock (or unlock? I doubt it, unless Bear became a psychopath from his time spent in the Dolomotes with Hudson). They successfully made it over the knife ridge, reached the summit, and it looked amazing. Bear referenced the metaphorical mountains Ferguson ascended in his personal life before noting that reaching any summit, whether it’s Everest or the smallish 10,000 foot peak of the mountains of thunder in Italy, brings him joy.
-The quiet heart-to-heart conversation happened early, in the second act. Ferguson and Bear had a mountainside chat about Ferguson’s life and times growing up an unathletic boy and, later, a gay man. Ferguson’s struggles pushed him/motivated him to succeed. He spent his time in Community Theater until he auditioned for Modern Family and got the part. He spoke about Modern Family helping families understand and tolerate things concerning homosexuality.
As an aside, Modern Family is the anti-Community. Dan Harmon made the second documentary as a diss against Modern Family. Harmon kept his writers until 2AM. Steve Levitan lets everyone out by 5PM.
-Bear and Jesse found a mountain goat along a ridge, frozen solid, but the skeptical side of me thinks the producers planted the goat there. Nowhere else along the mountain would they find the mountain goat, but they found it. Coincidence or fate? “A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish - but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I like about coincidence.” I quoted Nabokov’s novel, Laughter in the Dark, a quote that seems to boggle my mind. Oh, I think I understand it now. I thought for a couple seconds and it hit me. As for the mountain goat, Bear cut off a leg and carried it to camp.
-Bear reflects at night in his camp. Night-time reflections were absent with Hudson last episode. They camped on a slope, strategically situated where the wind wouldn’t, and dug a snow hole. I’ve seen Bear dig many a snow hole in my days watching his adventures from a couch. Bear and Ferguson discussed Ferguson’s marriage as a solitary candle flickered in the snow hole. NBC’s hashtag LoveIsLove appeared beneath the prone Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Jesse mentioned getting to marry his husband was harder than it needed to be. Indeed. At the time of the filming, the Supreme Court hadn’t legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States of America.
Before they slept they said their prayers to God, which was quite wonderful.
-In my favorite descent of the episode Bear and Jesse repelled down a melting mountainside, Bear’s rope wrapped around a glassy looking beam of ice surrounded by drops of falling water. They made it safely to the bottom of the melting waterfall and found their exit point fifteen minutes later (but fifteen seconds in TV time—the only true time that exists in the universe).
-From there they flew away from the mountains. Bear reiterated his belief that people have within them the power to do anything. Ferguson, free from the terror and fear of scary descents through melting ice and such, reflected on the journey, what he did despite thinking he could never do it. We can, though. Remembering that is as hard as the scary climbs.