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Published on March 6th, 2008 | by Erich Becker


Ax Men – Pilot (01×01)

The History Channel has sure branched out in the last couple of years making a name for itself in original programming series apart from the usual specials. After the success of last year’s real life series, Ice Road Truckers, the channel now offers up another treacherous location and job occupation, the job of an Ax Man, or as they hate to be called, lumberjacks.

The series, Ax Men, a playful title on the Marvel mutant series, focuses, at least initially, on four separate crews in the Pacific Northwest each aiming to meet quotas and stay in business for another year. The premise is eerily similar to the aforementioned Truckers in which it’s a race against time and weather to make money and survive in a harsh climate. It’s not to say the series isn’t original, but it fits in nearly the exact same mold, only with trees replacing trucks.


The life on an ax man isn’t a pleasant one as they constantly fight with the elements, and the fear that today could be their last. As one of the crew relays, a normal person would think this was the stupidest job in the world, and after watching the pilot, you almost have to agree with them. In the course of 42 minutes a helicopter carrying a cable gets stuck to a tree, a modified tank, now a logging instrument, gets stuck in a ditch, trees go tumbling down a mountain, cables break, and lots of surly old men call each other unpleasant names.

The program is an interesting experience, the focusing on four different crews in different locations; each with a unique way of approaching the job broadens the program and helps it from becoming a one trick pony about guys chopping down trees day after day.


The editing of the program leaves a little to be desired as “drama” on the teams is highlighted in a bit of an over the top fashion, including minor injuries and a tank getting stuck in a ditch, but this is an entertainment program, after all, and there has to be something to offer conflict when the namesake element of your series is a Douglass Fur. A rather annoying bit is when the program switches between crews it makes it a point to always say how many miles away from the last crew, and does an overblown, and overly dramatic zoom in of the crew with its name splashed on the bottom of the screen rather than just a standard scene transition and a line of narration that simply states what we are looking at. Hopefully the producers of the series realize this and cut back the technique in future episodes.


Ice Road Truckers was a huge success and there’s nothing to say that Ax Men, premiering March 9 at 10/9C, isn’t destined to follow in the footsteps. There’s a larger amount of “characters” to follow here so the more intimate time with the truckers may be lost on the loggers, but it isn’t a huge loss considering the centerpiece of the show is the life and limb danger and rugged manliness of the great outdoors (even the press kit was pine scented). Ax Men isn’t a huge leap forward, but it once again focuses in an untold industry that has been largely unaffected by huge technological leaps in recent years and still does business the old-fashioned hard way, which does make for some interesting TV viewing.

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About the Author

Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!

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