Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.
After whatever the hell that was last week, the saga of Brownton Abbey resumes with “Dock-u-Drama,” a delightfully punned title. In the TV business, we’ve seen shows promoted a multitude of ways by adding “docu” to them. We’ve seen “docudrama,” “docuseries” and even something called a “docusoap.” The networks and producers wanted to get away from “reality” shows, since there is so little reality in them and the word was getting negative connotations. (I wonder why.) Calling these things “documentaries” makes them sound a little too highfalutin and authentic for the average viewer. I mean, it’s not like Sir David Attenborough would narrate Bear punching some poor salmon’s skull in. (Come to think of it, that would be AWESOME!)
Noah is trying to bring the Industrial Revolution to Brownton Abbey. He’s now making advances in indoor plumbing. He’s trying to tap the creek with long lengths of tubes and get some way to deliver it to the kitchen faucet. Commence eye rolling. Like every one of Noah’s “inventions,” it sounds like it might work in principle for the two seconds we get to see it functioning onscreen.
You’ll remember that the Bush Fates of Rock, Paper and Scissors put Matt in charge of the Integrity and this hauling job that he’s going to do with Bam, Gabe and Bear, and without the additional moveable ballast weight of Billy. [DIGRESSION! A friend in high school invited me on his family’s boat that was competing in a yacht race. I knew nothing about yachting, so my official function on the vessel was “moveable ballast.”] Ami says the boys will probably miss their parents’ “reassurance” most of all. Whatever. The cargo for the hauling job is a washing machine, dryer and rug for some dude in Gustavus. Matt wants the job to go smoothly because, “This is our name on the line.” Yes. It would be unfortunate if the Brown family name were tarnished in any way.
Noah, Rainy and Birdy go scouting for water from the creek. The salmon are spawning earlier than usual, and there are fish in the creek that could use some of Bear’s Bush Euthanasia. “You definitely don’t want to drink water that has dead or dying fish in it,” Professor Noah explains. Birdy “ate” the water and determined that it is not edible … er, potable. Noah says that with his water system in place, they’ll never have to make this run again. I call B.S. on this for about a million reasons, but here’s the biggest: What happens when it freezes? Oh, right. The Browns will be in Texas.
It’s been a week since Billy’s latest seizure.
Billy and Ami are in the kitchen discussing their anxieties about letting their grown-ass sons go out on their grown-ass boat by their grown-ass selves. Billy says docking the Integrity is like parallel parking a freight train. The Browns have a poor track record of docking boats, even the small ones:
Then Ami says this:
“Maybe it will be a completely noneventful, mundane, boring trip.” – Ami, talking about every episode of #AlaskanBushPeople
— Ryan Berenz (@ChannelGuideRAB) December 3, 2015
Out on the sea, things are going well until Bam is thrown for a loop by the sad little dock in Gustavus. (You’ll recall that Gustavus was the place where the Browns shoveled the chicken feces out of the van.) Bam’s at the wheel and is trying to cram the boat between the dock and a piling and it makes no damn sense to me why he would even attempt this at all. The Integrity trades some paint with the dock, but despite the claim that it “took a chunk” out of the hull, it’s mostly just a superficial scuff mark. Matt will not have to go down with the ship, alas.
The boys instead decide to dock the Integrity on a “state float.” I’ve never been on the waters of Alaska, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to dock there because there is a sign in plain English on it that reads: “Property of the State of Alaska NO TRESPASSING AS 11.46.330.” There are exclusions in cases of emergency, but docking your boat there because you’re a dumbass and you’re late to deliver some appliances does not constitute an emergency. Then they try towing the Integrity with The Skiff. You ever hear the saying about a monkey and football? This scene is THAT. “There is no way that that skiff is ever going to move the Integrity,” Bam says.
The Skiff saves their asses yet again and hauls the appliances and the rug to shore, where customer Kyle has been impatiently waiting. Everyone in SE Alaska is named Kenny or Kyle, like it’s freakin’ South Park. Matt and Gabe start telling Kyle just how awful and incompetent they are at their jobs, which is an unconventional business practice, even out in the Bush. I’d love to see the revenue vs. expenses sheet on this hauling job. I figure it’s four men working five or six hours and about five hours of fuel burned. “OK, Kyle. Your total comes to $3,500.”
At least the Browns have a job on the return trip. They have to bring a wood sculpture of a bear back to Hoonah for the Misty Bay Lodge. Billy’s probably trying to use the sculpture to barter his way out of his bar tab. The guy who makes the carvings is … Stevie Wonder! You’d think a gray-haired Alaskan wood carver hippie dude would be entertaining, but he’s tragically underutilized in this episode. The Brown boys go to pick up the sculpture, but Stevie Wonder says it won’t be done until tomorrow. This means the Browns will have to piss away an extra day in Gustavus. Signed, Sealed & Delivered, my ass.
Stevie Wonder then mentions something about a friend with a problem tree and tells the Brown boys that they could make themselves useful by cutting it down. I have no idea what Stevie Wonder offers in exchange for this, but the Brown boys are up to it.
Let’s add another really stupid boring Alaskan Bush People cliche to the list: The overly dramatic felling of trees. No more of this, for the love of the Good Lord. I do not want to see footage of Browns cutting down trees unless said cutting of trees causes injury, death and/or severe or hilarious property damage.
Gabe cuts down the tree just fine, and the only thing worth seeing in this scene is the shadow of the drone camera that took the shot.
Back at Brownton Abbey, Noah is boasting about being a paranoid doomsday prepper: “I’m just all ready for a post-apocalyptic world, aren’t I?” Noah attaches a soup ladle to the faucet to divert the water into the sink, as if he’ll ever be able to generate enough water pressure to spray anything. Noah got two 100-gallon water tanks free from some guy who was looking to dispose of them. There’s a pointless scene involving Noah and Birdy arguing about how to carry the tanks. Noah wants to carry them on his back. Birdy suggests that she help lift them. I suggest they fill the tanks with water and force Rainy to carry them.
The Brown boys have another small job in Gustavus delivering and assembling a picnic table for a lodge. (Researching on The Google tells me it’s the Glacier Bay Country Inn.) There, the boys discover two young ladies — Madeline and Josie — scoping out these weirdos struggling to put together the table. Bear wastes no time making an ass of himself and runs right up to them. He says there are advantages to, like, an EXXXXTREME entrance. Gabe decides to go the awkward route again. “If you want, you can watch us put the tables together.” That’s our Gabey!
Madeline is from Arizona. Josie is kicked to the curb. My guess is that Madeline is from the Phoenix area, attends ASU and probably came up to Alaska to work in hospitality for the summer. Bear is in awe that there are like, literally, no trees where she’s from. It’s like a different planet. I suggest Bear go down there and try to climb a cactus.
The interstitial finds Matt trying to heat up some water for tea by holding a propane torch to a plastic water bottle. Matt rotates the bottle over the flame, which keeps the bottle from melting while it heats the water. This sounds so completely asinine that AWW HELL YEAH I’M TOTALLY GOING TO TRY THIS TONIGHT AFTER A FEW BEERS!! “It’s like you’ve broken time and space and physics itself,” Matt says after pouring several cups of sugar into his tea.
Back in Gustavus, Bear starts climbing around the rafters of the gazebo at the lodge and throwing big-ass logs onto the fire. He invites Madeline to visit Brownton Abbey and have the Brown grandbaby seed implanted in her. She accepts. I’m sure traveling five hours to hang out with this missing link she just met is high on her list of priorities. She’ll get right on that.
As ridiculous as this episode was, it was still pretty good in relative terms. We can call it “Bush Good.” Very little Billy and Ami. Hardly any howling. Lots of The Skiff. Stevie Wonder.
I just called to say I love you.