Tuesday, August 01, 2006

TV Review: Dirty Jobs

Next up on Summer Shows I'm TiVo-ing week: filth!

#2 Dirty Jobs
Channel: Discovery
Genre: Reality/Educational
Season: 1 on DVD, 2 currently airing

What's this, you ask? An educational TV show? That's good? And not about Hitler's Bathroom, or The Secretaries of World War 2, or Secret Accountants Of Nazi Germany, or whatever lame-ass stock-footage reel the World War 2 Channel History Channel decides to show repeatedly?

Damn skippy.

The premise of Dirty Jobs is that the host (Mike Rowe, ex-opera singer, voiceover maven and real estate advisor) travels around the country meeting real people who have "dirty" jobs and filling in for them for the day.

And there are some dirty, dirty jobs out there.

Some segments are slam-dunks: sewage pipe inspector, food recycler, charcoal factory worker, demolition worker.

(Side Note: the "roadkill cleaner" job is exactly as disgusting as you'd think it would be. I'm just sayin'.)

Others aren't so much "dirty" as just "really-friggin'-miserable-holy-hell-I'll-never-complain-about-my-own-job-again" kind of things.

Like the poor sonsabitches repairing railroad ties in 110 degree heat. Or the guys who clean the litter and food and OH MY GOD IS THAT A HUMAN FINGER?!? out from city storm drains. Or steel mill workers, who spend day after day just sweeping iron coke off a conveyor belt standing next to lethal machinery and open 200-degree flames. Or the guy that gets to spend all day every day cleaning the inside of concrete mixers. You get the picture. It's these kind of jobs ---and people --- that are frequently more fascinating.

Disassembling a Rose Bowl Parade float was compelling, mainly because I had no idea that the floats are comprised almost entirely of vegetation, which means that a month after the parade these people have to get knee-deep in rotting fruit/vegetables/whatever's left. Yes. Ew.

Mike Rowe really makes the show go with his everyman persona and wisecracks; he's genuinely interested in what these people do for a living and why, and makes every effort to actually learn the job they're doing. The amazing thing is that he is always incredibly respectful of these folks, and while humor is a big part of the show (most jokes revolve around how incompetently Rowe handles the new job), you never feel like he's laughing at them, we're laughing with them.

Chimney sweeps, sludge cleaners, bat scientists, avian vomitologists (yup), hot tar roofers, the list goes on and on.

Plus, the theme song is the kickass chorus of Faith No More's "We Care A Lot".

Go here and watch a preview that sums up the show nicely. (And you get to hear that kickass chorus.)

RECOMMENDED FOR: Curious people, those who have any sort of regular job whatsoever, fans of watching "them high-falutin' TV folk" get taken down a peg when asked to do real work.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: People easily nauseated by feces, grease, sewage, black lung, animal parts, or the human condition that these folks work in.

AV Rating: 3/5. This might seem low, but with a show like this you're bound to have some jobs (and therefore segments) that just aren't all that interesting. No need to catch up on anything, though, since there's no narrative involved. Watch a couple at random and you'll know if this one's right for you.

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