America's Toughest Jobs: Premiere Review
America's Toughest Jobs: Premiere Review
America's Toughest Jobs is the type of reality show that comes about when networks have run out of ideas.  There's nothing particularly wrong with America's Toughest Jobs, it just wasn't necessary.  There's certainly more to like on America's Toughest Jobs than there is on the more shameless FOX or VH-1 reality shows.  These are real people performing difficult tasks, tasks that they are not trained to execute.  The problem lies in the premise: America's Toughest Jobs is from the producers of Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch.  But, network television will not suffer a reality show without some sort of flashy competition aspect, so the producers of a great show like Deadliest Catch, a show that gives an inside look at one of the grittiest and most dangerous jobs in America, are forced to shoe-horn a gimmick into their normal formula.  What you end up with is a half-assed Deadliest Catch crossed with a half-assed Survivor

America's Toughest Jobs
features thirteen contestants, all normal people, ranging in age and profession, all of whom want to challenge themselves.  The first episode sends the contestants and raspy-voiced host Josh Temple up to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.  They try their hand at crab fishing.  The thirteen players are split up into two groups and sent out on different crabbing boats.  Over a grueling two days, the players must fix the bait, launch thirty different crab pots into the Bering Sea, retrieve the pots, and correctly sort the crabs. 

There's no getting around it: this is fairly difficult stuff.  The contestants are not coddled on America's Toughest Jobs.  They are thrown right into the fire; some succeed, some fail miserably.  It's not a fair contest either – crab fishing is a job that requires strength and agility and endurance.  You might assume that the men would prosper, but there were two women who absolutely rocked it, gaining the praise of their respective captains in the process. 

I'll give America's Toughest Jobs one thing: the elimination system is great.  They could have placed some arbitrary point system or quota on the proceedings, but they resisted that temptation.  At the end of the two days of fishing, each captain named their two worst workers, and those four had to go back out on the crab boat to try and prove themselves once more.  After that last bout of fishing, the captains merely conferred and eliminated who they felt did the worst job. 

America's Toughest Jobs is harmless enough, and might acquire some bored viewers over its early season run.  It fails as a Discovery Channel-esque show, because the jobs themselves are too far in the background.  These contestants are just scratching the surface of what it means to be a crab fisherman (and I don't expect the different jobs to get more play in future episodes either).  This is no Deadliest CatchAmerica's Toughest Jobs also fails as a pure reality competition series.  It's not engrossing enough, and the competition aspect is too vague.  For laymen like me, the action leaves me totally apathetic.  It'd be like going to a car factory and trying to judge who the best employee is.  The show relies on the narrator and the captains' on-the-nose assessments of the players.  There's nothing concrete the audience can cling onto when trying to judge the players.  I just finished watching the first episode about a half hour ago, and I can't remember any of the contestants' names. 

America's Toughest Jobs isn't a terrible way to waste an hour.  You won't be better off for it, and it won't leave you with anything to talk about after the fact.  Most likely, you will leave America's Toughest Jobs completely indifferent.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)