VIC’S REVIEWS: ‘Alaska State Troopers’ (National Geographic – Sundays, 8:00 p.m.)

Follow one of the toughest law enforcement agencies in the nation, patrolling alone on unforgiving terrains. Responding by land, air, and sea—with backup sometimes days away—these troopers patrol hundreds of miles of rugged terrain in bone-chilling temperatures to protect the people and wildlife of Alaska. Whether it’s overturned snow machines in 22-degree weather, violent chainsaw crimes, volatile fishermen zigzagging down waterways, thieves stealing essential village items, moose-hunting checks, gunman confrontations in the wilderness, or intoxicated gold miners blocking roads—being prepared for anything is just part of the job.

Cameras ride along with Alaskan State Troopers as they keep the streets safe and hunters honest while at the same time taking advantage of the breathtaking landscape that Alaska State Troopers are lucky enough to call “their office.” -NatGeo

Score:     80 out of 100

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I have to give credit to NatGeo for providing several episodes of Alaska State Troopers on YouTube, uncut and for free (they also charge on YouTube for full seasons, so that’s saying something).  While we can’t post them to our channel without a guarantee of a copyright strike against us, we have posted them at the end of this review for you to enjoy while they are still up.  At the time of publishing there was one episode from season one and nine episodes from season two.  Enjoy!

NatGeo’s Alaska State Troopers is not just another pedestrian Cops knock-off… y’know, like the kind of crap that permeates Spike TV on a regular basis; the typical police cruiser/fleeing suspect chase show where we see endless loops of speeding perps and footage consisting almost entirely of bad dash-cam video.  No offense to Spike (you guys do air the Star Wars films, after all), and I can see where some might offhandedly dismiss it as Cops in Alaska, however, I think that comparing AST to its well-known predecessor and  less-than worthy successors does a disservice to this very original series. I grew to enjoy the show and I became a steady viewer of it after the first season which aired back in 2009.  At first, it was just a show that would serve as background noise while I would write or do some studying (something I still do with Ancient Aliens or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), but every now and then I’d glance over at the TV and get pretty involved with the way the show was delivered to the audience, with the first feature being the obvious: the photography.

Done in documentary style,  AST is beautifully filmed by a host of well-known cinematographers including Josh Becker and Jason Fierst, whose credits include Frontier Force and I (Almost) Got Away With it. The audience is regularly treated to beautiful aerial shots of surrounding snow-covered mountains, hills, valleys and lakes that are scattered across the Alaskan landscape, in locales such as Wasilla and Anchorage. The camera coverage of Alaska is absolutely stunning and amazing to watch, so there is never any wasted “filler” footage, there. We are drawn into the show by the different locations that the brave troopers cover. Usually, an episode will alternate between these locales and we ride along with a variety of troopers, each with their own unique personalities, incredible tales and history. These troopers are diligent, strong and have amazing stamina to not only weather the climate that Alaska beats down on them but to have to deal with hunters, roadkill, drug dealers, meth addicts and even the occasional inebriated Alaskan or two.

Veteran voice actor Marc Graue (Fallout, Resistance 3) provides the narration for AST and is pitch perfect here. Graue has a great voice and he can pull us into the drama with that velvet tenor of his. He carries the show’s narrative as we meet up with the various troopers that include troopers Howie Peterson, Dan Cox, Abraham Garcia and Lance Ewers who represent just a few of the troopers from different regions of the great state.

As far as the “main cast of characters” goes and what I truly appreciate about AST, these guys are hardcore, real and they have an amazing capacity for taking what Alaska dishes out… even when it’s not from a human. Snowstorms, ice storms, fog, moose, bears, etc., they see it all. At times they are dispatched to move hurt animals from the side of the freeways. They do it mercifully, with compassion and are not shy about displaying emotion. In one episode  a trooper even tracks down an injured Moose and has to put it down. This is pretty heavy stuff from an unscripted police show.

Sometimes, our heroes are dispatched to chase wanted felons and criminals while enduring poachers and moose season. Some of the braver troopers get called out with frequency to very isolated areas and deal with arrest warrants and dangerous felons that hide out in log cabins, run down shacks, mountains and rusted-out trailers. These are usually the very militant types that don’t take too well to trespassers… even if they are the law.

DUI on the 4th of July is one of the many standout episodes of the series. The troopers have to contend with some very rowdy party goers who are enjoying themselves a bit too much and as usual, we see our troopers handle stressful situations with professionalism and grace. Then, some other troopers handle a very precarious search and rescue on melting ice. I have to really give these officers credit and respect for all they do. What differentiates this show from Cops and the rest is that the show’s director,  Brian Michel,  gives us raw, real and very visceral footage here and no two episodes are the same. We get some fun and frivolous stuff like a dude trying his damndest to hide from the troopers while he is clearly in plain sight to some more serious stuff like when a poor meth-addicted girl cries for help from her addiction. It’s all very emotionally gripping.  So all in all, AST is a very engaging series from NatGeo. Kudos to them for making me look up from my laptop and involving me in some captivating TV.  

As an aside, in an awesome display of the show’s popularity, some puppies were dropped off at dog Shelter in Kentucky and two pups were named Trooper Dahl and Trooper Peterson after the brave officers from the show.  Read about it here.

Season four of Alaska State Troopers starts this Sunday, October 7th.

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About Victor De Leon

I run Vic's Movie Den, I love talking and reviewing Film, TV, Comics, Photography, Audio/Video and Literature.
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