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Channel hop

Mark Peters

 

This week, renowned British adventurer and survival expert Bear Grylls returns to our screens with his brand new show, Escape from Hell (pictured; Discovery Channel, tomorrow, 9pm). In this six-part series, SAS-trained Grylls, who is no stranger to the odd mouthful of goat testicle with a shot of warm snake blood, meets people who have walked away from near-death situations, usually caused by their own idiocy. He relives their experiences, showing us what they could have done to help themselves if they had been equipped with the full Bear Grylls survive-the-apocalypse-bloody-sharp-knife set.

As the tales are told by the real-life protagonists, it's clear from the outset that they're going to have a happy ending, but you can't fault tough-guy Grylls for creating some tension as he enthusiastically throws himself around, re-enacting fights for survival. Backed by a chugging riff that would sit well on a Metallica B-side, Grylls embellishes each story with dramatic expressions - "cheated death", "beat the odds" and "brutal terrain" being some of his favourites - and could make a Sunday morning stroll to pick up croissants sound like a piggyback given by Ray Mears through a Syrian war zone.

Much like the Banged Up Abroad series, it's enough to put you off ever leaving the safety of your urban haven. Just stay inside and laugh at how easy it is to poison a Frenchman with an undercooked tarantula is my advice.

Having conquered hell so successfully, might Grylls now attempt the ultimate challenge: escaping a SoHo bar with more than half his monthly pay cheque still in his wallet?

With all the strange disappearances and eerie goings-on within, it would take a man with far larger kahunas than the Bear to take up residence at the mysterious 666 Park Avenue (TVB Pearl, tomorrow at midnight). This new paranormal gothic thriller, a mild American Horror Story crossed with classic 1980s movie Ghostbusters, is set in The Drake, a historic Upper East Side edifice populated by opulent New Yorkers and owned by the devilish Gavin Doran (Terry O'Quinn, being a little less creepy than the island he was once Lost on) and his glamorous wife, Olivia (Vanessa Williams).

Enter Jane and Henry, a happy, go-getting couple from the Midwest who have been employed as building managers. As things start to get more than a little weird for the socialite residents, due mainly to the fact Doran is flogging one-way tickets to hell for the price of a soul, Jane begins to snoop into the building's occult background.

666 Park Avenue is based on the macabre romance novels by Gabriella Pierce, so, although it does have its spooky moments, it thankfully doesn't try to be terribly scary or pretend to be anything more than a supernatural soap opera.

And speaking of people selling their souls, the seventh season (sing hosanna!) of America's Got Talent begins on Thursday (TVB Pearl, 8.30pm). While there will no doubt be the odd person who can dance, juggle or hold a tune, this is a continuing train wreck of a reality show, one that even Bear Grylls couldn't save from itself.

 

 

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