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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

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