Skip to main content

If you missed the masterpiece of cockamamie TV that is Sarah Palin's Alaska on Sunday, fear not. It's repeated tonight (TLC, 7 p.m.). Possibly you missed it because you were shagged out from doing early Christmas shopping at the mall. Possibly you were getting the beer and chips ready to watch that great zombie show The Walking Dead at 10 p.m. Me, I'm loving that zombie show. I mean, the gang escapes from zombie-plagued Atlanta and then they go back among the zombies!

Mind you, if you think the zombie show is a bit rickety on the logic front, you ain't seen anything until you've seen Sarah Palin's show. By turns spooky, suspenseful, surreal and horribly funny, it is the sort of thing that makes you say, against your strongest inclination, "wow!" Possibly because, when Palin observes a brown bear growl, she says "wow!" And then "wow." And, in case we missed it, "wow" again.

There is a whole lot of wowing going on, obviously. The point, of course, is to force the great American public that is intrigued by Palin to go "wow!" and make her the Republican candidate for president in 2012.

Story continues below advertisement

Again, possibly you'd rather engage in a staring contest with Our Glorious Leader than watch Sarah Palin's Alaska. Possibly you just feel that life is short and you'd rather avoid another moment of listening to Palin's macabre version of the English language. In that case, fear not, again. I'll describe it to you.

Aerial shots of Alaska. Mountains, lakes, clouds, bears, people fishing, mountain climbing and white-water rafting. The people are the Palins. We enter their house, a big ol' thing with huge windows, on the water. Enter Sarah Palin. She declares that she likes to do her research and stuff on a concrete slab out the back. Some papers on a table indicate the possible plausibility of this.

A point is made about the guy in the house next door, He's "out to git ya" according to Palin. He bad, he's nosy and Todd Palin and his pals had to put up a four-metre high fence to block the guy. (I've put up fences in my time and Todd's looks wobbly. I'm just saying.) The guy is actually Joe McGinniss, who is writing a book about Palin. Intrepid, he rented a house next door. McGinniss is a distinguished writer and an expert on Alaska. He also wrote The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, one of the best books about soccer ever written. Me, I'd love a chat with him. But I digress.

The Palin clan take a plane to see some "grizzly bears" and do some fishing. An expensive freakin' hobby, you'd think, but the cost never arises. The kids are sulky, you can tell. Todd looks like he'd really rather be somewhere else. Little wonder - Sarah Palin is going "wow, wow, wow" at the bears.

Besides the fishin' and seeing-the-bears thing makes for kinda boring TV. Me, I'd rather see the Palin clan go on one of their famous shopping trips at Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, picking up $3,500 jackets for the gals, snazzy headphones for their iPods and pretty much tearing schmattas off the mannequins before the Republican Party catches on. Now that, you've got to admit, would be fun TV.

Anyway. Time passes. Palin tells some teenage guy he can't go up to Willow's bedroom. He does, when her back is turned. Love is blind, you know. Especially in Alaska, one surmises. Sarah calls Willow on her cellphone and the guy comes back. He gives Palin one of those looks that sum up a nation's puzzlement at this woman's fame and power.

Next, all the Palins, including grandpappy and grandma go to take a gander at Mount McKinley. It's a family thing in the RV, Sarah says. The RV is, actually, a huge bus of the sort that rock stars use to tour in comfort. The interior looks like the kinda thing that would make even Madonna go, "wow!

Story continues below advertisement

Little happens. Then Todd and Sarah go "mountain climbing." Up in a plane again, twice. What they do looks oddly like a baby-steps introduction to mountain climbing for sissies. Still, Sarah has a lot to say about avoiding a dangerous crevasse. It is pronounced "criv-ass" and said so often you begin to think she's high and weirding everybody else out. But, no. Todd and the mountain-climbing instructor congratulate her on moving her legs to up the mountain a piece. About three metres of a piece actually. There's some stuff about the view being pretty. That's it.

The upshot is this - a surprising number of Americans view Sarah Palin as "a beautiful, grounded woman who embraces conservative values; enjoys being a mom to her many children; loves her good looking, very non-p.c. husband; refuses to tow the feminist line; and is wildly successful despite the concerted efforts of the worldwide leftist media." That quote is taken directly from an online comment on piece from The Guardian about Palin.

Sarah Palin's Alaska is gloriously awful TV but it succeeds in its mission - it expands the Palin brand. It reinforces her position as an authentic figure and will make some people believe that the U.S. would be lucky to have her in the White House. Cockamamie TV, but mission accomplished. Wow!

Check local listings.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at