Chain up! Season 3 of this gripping HISTORY series gets plenty of traction from its setting, the more than 400-mile "gauntlet of terror" known as the Dalton Highway. Said to be the most dangerous road in North America, the Dalton has reportedly claimed a life for each of its miles. "If the curves don't get you," the narrator intones in a dramatic John Wayne-like drawl, "the avalanches will." The drivers, a right-stuff bunch ("They don't pay us this much because it's easy," one proclaims), have 12 weeks to deliver more than 6,000 loads to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields before the ice roads thaw. Along with familiar grizzled ice road veterans Hugh and George from the show's first two seasons, season 3 shifts gears with its first female driver, the attractive Lisa Kelly, a motocross champion determined to prove herself as a heavy hauler in this male-dominated profession. The competition between the drivers to see who can make the most runs really takes a back seat to the potential calamities that await beyond every curve and over every steep incline. "Pick the wrong gear, you wash out," the narrator cautions, "hit the brakes too hard; you end up in a ditch." The road, it is said, never lets up, and neither does Ice Road Truckers. Photos of horrific crashes and computer-generated re-creations of serious accidents amp up the drama, but (spoiler alert), beyond tense moments driving through blinding storms or experiencing equipment malfunctions, the drivers emerge from this punishing season unscathed. Ice Road Truckers will especially appeal to truck enthusiasts who may have grown up with the Road Construction Ahead and There Goes a Truck videos. These drivers do some serious hauling (45,000 pounds is considered a light load) and it is fascinating, for example, to watch how 16-ton pipes are loaded and secured onto a flatbed. A feature film inspired by the series is reportedly in the works, but there's nothing like the real thing. --Donald Liebenson.
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