Sunday, February 02, 2014

New National Geographic Fakery

I had barely put up the post on the latest Fakery from Animal Planet when I got a post from someone asking me if I had seen the new National Geographic show entitled "The Legend of Mick Dodge".

Actually I had not, but a quick consult with the TV found it was actually on (lucky me!), and I sat through 10 minutes of it until I was thoroughly  convinced it was complete hogwash.

Here's what National Geographic tells us:

25 years ago, Mick Dodge walked away from the modern world, leaving civilization behind to live alongside nature's wonders in the Olympic Peninsula. Following a primal instinct present throughout generations of his family, Mick ventured deep into the Hoh Rainforest, making his home in the trees and hidden in the moss. Experience the wild life of Mick Dodge, a quirky character whose unique brand of Zen comes from living by his own code – off the land and off the grid.

Fascinating, but almost none of it is true. Exotic Hikes sets the record straight:

  • Mick Dodge lives in a house.  He winters with his girlfriend, and he spends most nights at a cabin he has free use of.  His driver's license says he lives at 2374 Rain Forest Road in Forks, Washington which has a fire place, an attached garage, and baseboard heat.
  • Mick Dodge is part of a business called Olympic Mountain Earth Wisdom Circle, which runs retreats and teaches courses in the US, Russia, China and Guatemala. That's how National Geographic found him. You are not "off the grid" if you have a web site and baseboard heat.
  • Mick Doge mostly wears shoes.  In fact, in an interview he gave with the Peninsula Daily News he notes that: “Out here, you really learn the value of rubber boots.  I almost lost my damn toes in the mountains one time when I got too cocky about it. Never make that mistake again.”
  • The entire show is scripted, which is something I figured out pretty quickly when Mick was shown cowering from hunters (only vaguely seen in orange) who appeared to be aimlessly blasting away in the middle of summer (which is not hunting season) in what is supposed to be a National Park where hunting is not allowed.
Am I the only one who remembers when "The Learning Channel" was about learning, not "Honey Boo Boo", and The History Channel was about history, and not space aliens and pawn shops?  

And now even National Geographic has joined the slalom run that is "race to the basement" reality TV?



Molly Mulrain said...

Hi Patrick -
Very interesting write up on the Legend of Mick Dodge. I run PR for the series here at National Geographic Channel and came across your piece on our show. Firstly, I want to thank you for watching. I hope you found Mick as charming and fascinating as we do in the brief 10 minutes you spent critiquing our program.

Secondly, I'd like to address your concerns on the authenticity of the show. Like all reality television, this show was produced with the intention to entertain and educate our viewers. But produced doesn’t mean fake, as you seem to imply. The stories presented in the episodes were real examples of Mick's life that the producers chose to include in the series. I believe your above accusations of "fakery" and "hogwash" are untrue, uninformed or taken out of context. I'd like to offer you the opportunity to see things from our perspective by having a conversation with Mick himself. I think that by speaking with Mick, you will find him as authentic and genuine as we do.

Let me know. I can be reached at

PBurns said...

Lol. Oh sure. Have him call me on his cell. In the interim, please tell me what was being hunted and when, and where. Also explain the street address with baseboard heat for a man that has spent "25 years off the grid." I'm in Wasington DC just a few blocks from Natl Geo HQ. We can all go for a lunch. Entertainment! Like P.T. Barnum? This way to the Egress!

PBurns said...

Not only does Mick live most of the winter in a house with baseboard heat, he also is so "off the grid" he just did a Reddit Q & A. A quick Google search finds he admits that 14 years ago he owned a house in Yelm and was employed doing truck maintenance at Fort Lewis. So much for the big National Geographic wind up which is that: "25 years ago, Mick Dodge walked away from the modern world"!

The truth is that the Dodge is just another person living on the margin in the Pacific Northwest, albeit one that has found a living sucking up a little attention and money from the hippy-dippys that drift from aromatherapy to tantric sex to yoga to crystals, and round again to Earth Goddess worship and trendy diets.

Read this babble >> and then go watch this trailer from Kumare >>

See the parallels?

Mick Dodge's shtick is that he teaches folks they can lift rocks and tree trunks and pull and climb and hang from ropes for exercise. This, apparently passes for a mysterious connection to the land and nature for people who have never tossed a few bales of hay.

Fake is exactly what this show is.
For example, Mick Dodge uses plastic all the time, but the production company that National Geographic brought this nonsense from carefully cuts out that part. Only a fake runs around in leather which you cannot get dry and will not keep you warm. The bit showing him eating "maggots" from a beaver carcass actually shows planted meal worms -- a fake used by "reality" TV before.

To his credit, Mick admits a lot of the lies in his few newspapers interviews, and though he was brow-beaten into faking a "bear hunt" for the producers, he thought better of it and insisted it be re-cut and turned into a mushroom hunt.

Mick Dodge clearly has more integrity than the producers of this drek, but in the end we get what we get and it is a howl of fakery, lies and editing to produce "entertainment" every bit as realistic as Twilight teen movie series. Watch out for the werewolves and vampires Mick! Say hi to Big Foot for me!

Melissa Guinn said...

I an so disappointed in Nat-geo. I watched several of these shows, hoping it would become reality based. The more shows I have seen the less I like it. I suppose I became bitter about the unrealistic story line about the time I saw the episode when he ate mealworms and claimed they were maggots. The next episode I saw he was crawling around in the bush growling and making a ruckus to scare campers away. I spend every day I can in the national forest of the Sierras deepwoods backpacking. If an animal was behaving that way we fire upwards a warning shot to frighten it, if it persists, I let my dogs loose. His attitude that those are his woods alone would not go over well with anyone. If he didn't purchase them, they are not his. His attitude of scaring hunters in orange away, hunting season or not, they are armed. Are they not? The whole "reality" of this show is promoting squatters in the woods who do not contribute to society or pay taxes and tries to make you believe a man can behave this way and not get into trouble. I believe the whole show is so un- reality based as to be something Walt D would have made into a cartoon.

runamok said...

The Nat Geo Wild show The Amazing Dr. Pol show is scripted and fake also. I live in the same community as Dr. Pol. Around here we have a saying "call Pol dig a hole". The only amazing thing about him is after your animal dies you still owe him money. I have suffered through this experience personally more than once, as have several of my friends. I had no choice to use his services because if you have a large animal emergency you sometimes have to take whoever you can get to come. I worked at our local animal shelter and they would come in to film there often. One show was scripted to make it look like they were coming to get a dog for their son when in reality he only wanted a Great Dane and we did not have that breed there at the time. The animals I referred to above were ignored early in their illness when they could have been saved and then too little was done too late, thus death and a bill. He was put on probation and ordered to take CE classes for the whole litter of puppies that died in utero while under his care. The owner was told when she called during the dogs unfruitful labor to wait another day and the day passed and still no pups. So she brought them in for an xray and was told there was still movement. She was unsure so went directly to another vet where he performed a cesaerian and removed puppies that had been dead for days. Many vets want this show stopped, saying it takes medicine back 50 years. Yet of course it is hugely popular, their highest rated show on Nat Geo Wild, which is where their son works and he is the one who has turned his father into a superstar. I live close enough to the source to know the truth. My daughter aspires to be a vet and the only reason we would watch the show is to learn how NOT to do things.

G Khan said...

They show this dumbass Dodge harassing hunters by firing his gun near them when there is available game nearby. These hunters were probably out there legally with tags! He shot in their direction then proclaimed that land was his. It's public land, it's the Hoh forest, as the show tells us. What gives him the right to terrorize legal hunters? He's going to get himself shot by hunters and when he does, he deserves it.

Labella said...

Re: Dr Pol. I recall an episode where someone came in with a white pit bull/Am Bulldog puppy that had been mauled. "Dr." Pol's diagnosis? Puppy was in shock.
His treatment?
Put the puppy in a cage and see if he gets better.
No pain killers, no IV fluids, no vaso constrictors. Nothing! OK, the puppy might have gotten a blanket and a hot water bottle, it's been a while, and I can't recall.
I do recall thinking he just killed that puppy, and sure enough, the puppy died.
Well, what do you expect when you do not TREAT a dog in shock from a mauling?!
I am also going to point out his substandard anesthesia methods. Dogs are NOT tubed, they are not put on gas, which is safer for the dog, since you can bring them out by changing the isoflorane (usual gas)/oxygen levels, as well as oxy and heart monitoring. Instead he hits them with an injection, which has to be filtered out by the liver before the dog is out of sedation.
Even other vets have a problem with his "treatment"
Not to mention it seems he has been disciplined by the state vet board for his substandard care.
Re Mick Dodge.. I knew he was a fake, but he's vaguely entertaining. I like it when he mugs for the camera. But I never took the show seriously especially when I saw the mealworms.. I have a bin of them growing right in front of me as I type this as food for my insectivore herps, and rabbit does (they like the protein boost when they're kitting) this same bin has been going for almost 2 years, lol.
Then let's not forget recently, he supposedly ate maggots from out of elk feces.. Yeah, a really good way to come down with several nasty things, including bacterial and parasitic infections.
Anyone that thinks they can eat maggots from a pile of elk feces is in for a world of hurting if they ever find themselves in a survivalist situation and they better hope they're found before the intestinal pain incapacitates them.

Holland said...

Okay it's all about the money ! First there was Survivor,The Kardashians , The Bachelor ,The Bachelorette ,pawn stars ,Deadliest catch ,ink Master ,Duck Dynasty,top Chef , Honey Boo boo ! Should I go on ! We are making them rich ! But some of them are entertaining ! But I do like Mick Hodge !

Lexy said...

I wish they would have told the whole story on Mick , in addition to what they show. I don't know what to believe it makes him look like he is living a lie. so disappointed. Lexy

Thomas Joy said...

I started watching the National Geographic Channel many years ago when most of it was real events.

National Geographic should be ashamed of itself as it has lost all credibility at least with me.

sarah said...

I like Mick, I honestly think he only does the show because all the money he makes goes straight to the organization he is apart of that's all about the earth and that kind of stuff, I think he smokes enough wacky tobacco that what ever national geo wants him to do he is like "yea whatever " he is actually truthful he spends all winter bunked up with his woman, he does have a bunch of dogs and he does where shoes, he rarely sleeps outside lol he says I love the earth and nature, although I don't care for the additude that the forest belongs only to him and his peeps,

Unknown said...

Clearly just about all of the program is fabricated. As an outdoor survivalist, there is nothing about it entertaining and is actually dangerous to the uninformed if there in some the situations

Pork said...

mick dodge , he is just to neat and clean to be living in the woods, anyone who has spent a week in a hunting cabin can pick up on that in a second. good for yuppies who know nothing.
Ken MacKenzie.

Glmracing said...

I was wondering, how many shows on the hundreds of channels, are "real"? Including the News, local or national or international. What should we expect from a television show? Hopefully not too much.