‘Epic,’ too much of a good thing
Destination America reality series is a journey in self-indulgence
December 14, 2012
Most of the lite documentaries that fill so much of TV these days — ranging from Civil War histories to lists of the top-10 greatest delis — are designed to grab and hold channel surfers. It doesn’t matter if we’ve missed the first half of the show. But it also doesn’t matter if we decide to miss the rest.
Destination America’s new series “Epic” will grab those fickle flippers capably, but it’s unlikely to hold them long. It gets bogged down in the sameness of the extravagant luxury items it features. The parade of conspicuous consumption becomes repetitive, as does the boilerplate narration. Viewers’ envious fascination will soon be replaced by boredom.
The show will feature such self-indulgences as tricked-out motor homes, elaborate swimming pools and posh houseboats. The episode airing as a sneak preview on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 10 p.m., visits some over-the-top log cabins, which the narrator calls ” the ultimate logzhurious fantasies.”
The first house covered is typical of the rest. It was built by a man named Boyce Muse and is situated on a mountainside in northern California. The property was so undeveloped that he had to hire people to make a road, for $250,000.
The road, as it turned out, was too narrow for the necessary machines, so the house had to be constructed elsewhere and then reassembled on the property. Since the log trucks were too long to turn around, they had to be lifted and spun around by a crane.
All of the owners were particular about what they wanted in their houses. Muse, for example, insisted that the edge of the stone floor be left jagged where it met the planks of the wood floor, expense be damned.
The five other houses visited are mostly more of the same. Although the fact that the California house had to be constructed off-site is presented as extraordinary by the narrator, the same thing happened to a man building a house in Wyoming.
Despite the varied locations, including Tennessee, Arizona and northern Michigan, the cabins start to look alike. We keep seeing huge great rooms filled with massive custom-made wood furniture, antler chandeliers and huge stone fireplaces. Anything that can be switched on or off, opened, closed or adjusted has a remote control.
The décor is very male, and many of the touches suggest that men never really grow up. One house has two pop-up televisions, one in the kitchen counter and one at the foot of the bed.
Hunting trophies are everywhere. One owner says that they’re easy to come by because when a man dies, the first things his widow does is have a yard sale to get rid of them.
Most of the owners come across as having a lot more money than either sense or imagination. If the programmers at Destination America were trying to influence the current debate on whether the very rich can afford to pay more in taxes, we know what side they’re on.
The only significant break in the monotony is a man named Gerald Kirkland, a folksy Texan who has done all the design and construction for his own cabin, which he calls Kirkland Kastle. His design elements include neon beer signs and TVs in the bathrooms.
Each segment ends with a tease that promises we’ll learn how much the house cost after some commercials. Many people living in certain areas of the Northeast or Southern California will actually be surprised at how low the prices are, not to mention how cheap some of the work is. In the New York City area, $250,000 probably wouldn’t pay for the environmental-impact study and community outreach for that new road.
“Epic” allows us to fantasize for a while about what we’d build or buy if we could afford anything. But since most of us can already afford a remote control for at least one device in our own cabins, we’ll probably change the channel soon.
Tags: Boyce Muse, Civil War, destination america, epic, epic destination america, epic review, epic tv show, Gerald Kirkland, Kirkland Kastle, Michigan, new york city, own, people, self, tv, tv reviews
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