Providing a thrilling, emotional, action-packed punch on NBC’s Monday night summer lineup are the extreme competition series, American Ninja, and The Island, a brutal fight for survival that’s new to the reality TV world. Former Man vs. Wild host Bear Grylls hosts this grueling yetÂ inspirational showÂ which takes 14 men and puts them through hell.
Series Synopsis: The internationally acclaimed adventurer and survivalist Bear Grylls gives the modern American man the ultimate challenge. Can a man of today’s world survive on a deserted island without the luxuries â€” or even the basics â€” of contemporary everyday life?
These 21st-century American men, who are accustomed to a roof over their head, restaurants and the benefits of technology, are stripped of all modern conveniences and catapulted back to their roots. They must hunt for food, source water, erect shelter, build community and try to survive using only their strength, determination and know-how. All of the men, including a stay-at-home dad, trauma surgeon, firefighter and criminal defense attorney, have something to prove to themselves and each other. This experiment takes them to the very edge of human endurance. They will test their physical, mental and emotional limits and fight for their very existence.
TV Goodness recently took part in a press call featuring The Island host Bear Grylls along with the show’s executive producer, Holly Wofford.
5 Things You Need to Know about NBC’s The Island
They look for the most difficult location possible.
Bear Grylls: We try to find the toughest island out there…so I think people have an image of desert islands as being lovely places with nice palm trees and nice climate and nice swimming and all of that, –Â this really could have been called Hell Island because itâ€™s a place thatâ€™s just full of snakes, crocodiles…itâ€™s like a natural fortress patrolled by sharks, brutal heat and humidity, sandflies that sometimes, you know, youâ€™ll see these men. Theyâ€™re literally, itâ€™s like theyâ€™re just devoured by these things so weâ€™re looking for an island that has a lot of those elements.
At the same time weâ€™re having to look for an island that has enough natural resources and indigenous animals that can sustain life but barely and that was the kind of briefÂ –Â find a really mega unforgiving island that can sustain life just.
There’s no money prize.
Holly Wofford: The only prize truthfully is pride.
Theyâ€™re not playing for a monetary prize so itâ€™s, you know, its hard core. There are no format elements in this series, you know, if you look at Naked and Afraid, you know theyâ€™re going to be dropped off and they move from one location to the next and then they have to get to their pick-up location. Survivor has the games and the elimination at the end. The Island is truly a docuseries of 14 men documenting their experience surviving on an island and itâ€™s real, itâ€™s raw and itâ€™s extraordinary.
Bear: It didnâ€™t need money or anything to motivate these guys. These guys worked beyond the normal and the reason they did it is that they wanted to discover something about themselves. And they wanted to show to their loved ones whether it was their mom, their dad, their spouse, their kids, they wanted to prove their mettle and they hadnâ€™t necessarily had a chance in life to prove that mettle and itâ€™s incredibly inspiring seeing how motivating it is for people. You donâ€™t need prizes or games for people to go to hell and back.
The men also act as the camera crew.
Holly: This is the most real survival show in the history of television. These men didnâ€™t even know where they were going until we handed them their tickets.Â They had no idea. They had the full run of the island. There was no other person, no production person, no nothing, no medical on the island. It was 14 men on an island surviving for a month — go.
Bear: it was a big step for NBC to say hold on, youâ€™re going to do a show where there are no camera crews and youâ€™re just putting everyday people with some GoPros and some cameras and trusting them to film stuff and weâ€™re putting however much money on the line to make this happen.
Holly: Everything was shot by the 14 men and I think frankly maintaining the cameras, lugging the cameras around and thinking about shooting what theyâ€™re doing under the circumstances when theyâ€™re starving and when theyâ€™re absolutely thirsty, dying of thirst. I think those are the biggest challenges on the surface as far as a production is concerned. You know, itâ€™s a network television show. We had expectations for these men.Â Each man did receive a small amount of camera training so they werenâ€™t sent out there blindly but yes, I think getting their bearings, being able to shoot when feeling so exhausted and being able to deliver a network quality product was quite challenging for them.
This is a life-changing experience.
Holly: I have to say if you stick around and watch the series, you will see that every man that makes it to the end is a changed man. It is absolutely remarkable. Itâ€™s inspiring and for me this was a personal – it was a personal championship. I mean, it was an amazing experience to see these guys that we cast, these regular men, these non-survivalists who had very little to no skills in the wild, some had never even been camping.Â And they come out the other end not just being able to survive on an island but changed from their outward appearance but inside their hearts, their minds, they will never be the same again and itâ€™s absolutely remarkable.
There might be a women’s version of The Island someday
Bear: Weâ€™ve done a version of this in the U.K. and lots of people said after the success of that first season, we would love to see what would happen with women as well and it was really exciting to be able to do a second season and then do a womenâ€™s one as well.
That was incredibly moving actually, very different, very surprising, not what I expected to happen on that island with the women but very inspiring and the goal is if this one goes well and people really kind of get into it in a way weâ€™ve seen it build in all the other countries weâ€™ve aired around the world, it would be great to do a womenâ€™s version as well for sure.
The Island airs Monday nights at 9/8c on NBC.
Interview edited for space and content.
–Additional reporting by Drea Aguilar
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