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Does a Bear go in the woods? Ewww!

By Kevin McDonough

United Feature Syndicate

Bear Grylls hosts "Man vs. Wild" (8 p.m., Discovery). The cable network describes him as a "quintessential adventurer." He’s a veteran of the British Special Forces who has climbed Mt. Everest.

On "Man vs. Wild," he survives some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain with little more than a canteen of water and the clothes on his back. Along the way, he shows viewers what to do in extreme climates and locales; what situations and critters to avoid; how to build a fire, climb out of a narrow crevice, find water and steal eggs from unsuspecting birds.

Tonight’s debut episode takes place in Utah’s Moab Desert. Bear is helicopter-dropped onto the top of a desert Mesa, just like the car in those old Chevy commercials. He then has to clamber his way down without breaking his legs or worse — getting stuck on a point where he cannot go back up or climb down.

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Bear does descend in one piece, and he manages to find shelter, food, fire and water in the space of an informative hour. But 110 F heat is nothing to sniff at. As Bear explains, it can give you heat stroke in a matter of hours and kill you after a rather bad day. On the plus side, he can fry an egg on a flat rock. That beats eating them raw, like Rocky Balboa. It would be a drag to survive the desert inferno only to succumb to salmonella. Or Apollo Creed.

At one point, Bear offers a Special Forces trick that you may not want to try at home. He urinates on his T-shirt and then wraps it around his head, promising us that the evaporating liquid will help him stay cool. I have not seen every "Fear Factor," but I'm confident that this method of "air conditioning" could be a prime time first.

There was something about Bear's damp shirt that shocked me out of my TV-induced stupor. After my brain’s transmission slipped back into first gear, I reminded myself that Bear wasn’t alone at all. Nor was his life in danger. A camera and presumably a whole crew had been monitoring his adventure while creating the illusion of desperation and isolation. Given their presence and the availability of, say, a bottle of mineral water, my mind raced back to the wet-shirt trick and I wondered, "Was that really necessary?"

Cult choice

A Kansas girl (Judy Garland) rides a twister into a Technicolor dreamland in the 1939 musical fable "The Wizard of Oz" (7 p.m., TBS).

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