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Ice Road Truckers: Time for producers to take inventory, rethink cast composition

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

This season of Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel has been predictable at best, jumping the shark at worst.

The History Channel's Ice Road Truckers needs some new blood.

Watching the show last night, it became clear that Ice Road Truckers is suffering from a plethora of one-dimensional characters. Even fan-favorites like Alex and Jack have become so predictable, it is increasingly unclear as to why one should watch from week to week, just to get more of the same.

Alex is a good guy; he’s the most pleasant, heartwarming trucker to watch. But, it was really more fun to watch him when he was paired more closely with rival Hugh. They are kind of the “yin” and “yang” of Ice Road Truckers. Alex is the calm, spiritual, always positive, can-do trucker. Hugh, on the other hand, is the loud, obnoxious, money-focused, breaking-trucks-and-taking-names trucker. Now that they are not in each other’s trucking circles, it is apparent what a big part of Ice Road Truckers the Alex vs. Hugh saga was each week. If Ice Road Truckers is continuing next season, perhaps bringing the two old-timers back into competition is something producers will consider.

Jack Jessee, the “haul-road ace;” what has happened to him? He was once the ever-professional, inspiring driver on the Dalton; now he’s just kinda mean and sour, leaning heavily towards bitter. He’s not enjoyable to watch any longer. Before the season began, many fans expressed excitement that Jack would be back once again; now that the season is almost over, some fans are no doubt wondering why he bothered. Week after week, he is beating that same veterans-should-get-the-hauls drum, along with various respect-the-Dalton speeches. Of course, he’s right: Haul-road veterans should be given considerations as such, and respecting the dangers of the haul road is something that should definitely be part of driving the Dalton. But, Jack is just like a broken record—a rather bitter broken record, at that. Last night, when he was fighting his load down a steep grade on the Dalton, he was the most interesting to watch he has been since previous seasons; perhaps if the producers focused on how Jack leads rather than on how he is becoming a bitter, disgruntled Carlile employee, he would again be that Jack Jessee people loved watching so much.

Austin Wheeler has whined his way through the season, but he’s definitely been the trucker to watch. The last week or two, he’s been a lot less whiney and much more fun to follow. When he is focusing on new endeavors, like last night’s heavy haul challenge of hauling a truck from a mining site, and not whining about why everyone is against him, you cannot help but cheer for him. After all, he’s the next generation of truckers, whatever happens in the future with Ice Road Truckers. Austin may even be his generation’s “haul-road ace,” you never know. So, it’s good too see him succeed. If Ice Road Truckers goes forward, Austin could definitely be an anchor character.

Porkchop and Darrell. Well, let’s just hope it is the first and last season for both of these truckers. Porkchop, well, you want to root for him, because when he was down, he was trying, but it didn’t take long for him to return to being annoying and obnoxious. Week after week, it’s just one more week to ask, “Did they not fire him yet?” And, Darrell, well, he seems to be a good enough driver, but he doesn’t really bring anything to the cast. He’s just there. Even as a rival for Jack, he just falls flat; you just don’t really care. Heck, neither of these drivers even rate their own paragraph to assess why they are boring; they certainly do not rate another season on the Dalton.

Break Up the Boys

Fans have been distressed all season over the absence of Lisa Kelly. This season has definitely highlighted the fact that, even tho’ her dramas could be eye-rolling at times, she definitely brought some needed variety and interest to the show. Why was she not here this season? There has been no official word on the matter, and Kelly has claimed that she is in a good place with the History Channel. Was it money? Producer Thom Beers told writer Kate O’Hare, "We offered her a contract to return and she chose not to. That's it. We invited her back. Love to have her. She's taking a year off, realizing that she might not be able to get another show. But she's an interesting woman. We liked her.” Assuming this is true, Beers and the History Channel should think long and hard about doing what they can to get Kelly back next season, assuming there is one—the boys just are not getting it done alone.

And, please, History Channel: Please “Stop the Chop.”

Stay tuned.

Ice Road Truckers airs on the History Channel on Sunday nights at 9/8 c.

UPDATE: Tonight's season finale of IRT sees a friendship teetering on the edge

Want to read more about Ice Road Truckers? Search "Ice Road Truckers" right here on Huliq!

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Worse season ever, Hough just plain full of hisself. Who cares what he does. I an not shure he could even drive on the road. Poor truck! All the new truckers just like being on TV. I had rather see some of the real Ice Road truckers just being their self. The show has really got to where if you can run your mouth, you can get on it. How in the world does Carlile let the people drive their trucks. Is it about how fast all the new guys can go, no matter how much danger they put every body else in. I will be suprised if it makes it next year. What a shame! This started out as a good show but now????????

Submitted by V0UD0U (not verified) on
Between Porkchop, Darryl and Jack Jesse among the others this show has jumped the shark. It is now worthless tv. I think they should put a fork in this one and cancel it. We have seen all there is to, and the new personalities are just lame.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Porkchop should never have been picked for this show. How he ever got on here is beyond me. Always talking about making money for his family, yet, he's been a truck driver for 15 years! Besides being load and obnoxious, he is a real annoyance on the show. My opinion he is reckless and dangerous! Flipping Off his former trainer Phil, was not cool at all. And I hope that will be his undoing. Darryl on the other hand is just Pompous and Arrogant and that really detracts from the showl History channel or whoever picks these people and offers them a contract, needs to send these guys packing next season, if there is a next season. It is hard to watch. Someone needs to change the cast back to MORE PROFESSIONAL DRIVERS like ALEX.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
You have mistaken the idea behind the show, it was never intended to be a "professional" driver show, it is a reality show and ratings count, if all you had on there were regular drivers you would not have a show, you need characters that are colorful and different, the show you talk about would be boring as hell, this is the best season ever as far as I'm concerned, I do miss Lisa but then she decided not to come back. I don't want a boring trucking show, I want a show that is colorful and this is it, you'll always have some trucker come on here and say what they are doing wrong or that they are un-professional, big deal, this isn't a DOT training video, it's reality TV, so if they don't like it then turn the channel, simple.

Submitted by Mywreck (not verified) on
What a waste of a season! I only watched the show because of Lisa, Alex and Rick! Where did they get these other guys? Must have been relly desprate to hire all the others! And the danger theyput each other in was in-excusable. Kill the show, put it out of its misery, or bring back the REAL cast. I wont watch next year if its the same old stuff.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Aside from the actors, I do not jundeerstand CARLILE. Why is it allowing drivers to abuse vehicles. I have never seen any CARLILE nor other drivesr use a diff lock or inter-axle lock. I guess that for "dramatic affect" it is better to spin the wheels which ulimately destroys transmissions and rear axles. Why doesn't CARLILE use sanders (actually a grit), which we have on our tractors (The New YorkTimes newspaper.) It would add some weight....but think of the benefits. The newspapers are the most perishable freight. If the newspapers are late, the load is returned and recycled.

Submitted by Bruce (not verified) on
After watching this show, I can't for the life of me figure out why Carlile doesn't use the "Auto-Chainers". Every Fire/Rescue in the Midwest has them installed on their equipment. Just charge to line (Air it up) and they deploy. Clear the line, they retract. I have a set on my tractor, love them. No muss, no fuss, just lock them in and go!

Submitted by PeterbiltPete (not verified) on
I agree with most of the comments that this season's IRT is not one of their better seasons and I agree a large part of that is the dynamics of the drivers is not there like past seasons and I think a part of that is that no one character (or pair) occupies the anchor position so for example the past seasons rivalry of Hugh and Alex doesn't exist, as is the usual dynamics that exist when Lisa and/or Maya were on. Jesse is a real professional but it seems between Austin and Darrel giving him a run for his money (although he is still the haul road Ace in my book) and not getting some of the primo loads, he's become uncharacteristically bitter and unprofessional. I do like the split between Alaska and Canada because the driving style, roads and loads are quit different and bring some interest. Canada always reminds me of some of the early shows of IRT when the drivers were crossing long distances on ice. I agree that Pork Chop doesn't seem to bring a whole lot to the show. You want to route for the guy but between not appearing to have the experience to drive the ice roads (you do wonder why Carlile hired him) he lathers on about how he's driving the ice roads for his family. Noble but not interesting. I really liked Darrell in the beginning and there is no doubt he is a competent driver but he has increasingly become obnoxious, too focus on load count and the $$ and has become pretty one dimensional, predictable and has lost some interest for me. I would like to see Carey on the show more and more coverage of heavy haul loads Carlile's HH division moves. And the week that Jack road off in a hissy fit I really enjoyed seeing Lane and Harry out on the road. Having been a long hauler for many years its nice to see management out experiencing first hand what the driver's deal with every day, although by the looks of Harry I'd say he's got more than a few miles under his belt. I'm not sure what took place this season for it to unfold the way it did. I think it is the weakest season since the beginning but I hope IRT is around for another season, bigger, better with new and old familiar faces.

Submitted by Anonymous, PA, USA (not verified) on
Heck Yeah ! - I agree with it all ( # 1 Tilt! ), And I also would REALLY like to see Lisa Kelly come back too .

Submitted by PeterbiltPete (not verified) on
I agree not having Lisa around this season has a lot of people scratching their heads and wondering what happened. My guess (and this is just a pie in the sky guess) is that Lisa wanted a season without cameras, to just run the Dalton as a trucker. Again GUESS...but that is what I would want to do if I'd been filmed for the past what 4 seasons (?) And of course she is fine to look at too :)

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