They who should not have lived

Jun 03, 2012, 11:04 IST | Sowmya Rajaram

A new series on Discovery Channel tells incredible stories of ordinary people who beat the odds of a dire situation to survive

It starts innocently enough — Crystal Ramsey and Dave Boyer decide to go to the Amazon rainforest in South America — but you know it won’t end well. If the name of the TV show (I Shouldn’t Be Alive) isn’t enough, the ominous background music makes it pretty clear from the very first frame that this debut episode is going to be an interesting tale of human survival.

A still from I Should Not Have Lived

Half an hour later, the story of the couple, who were dating then but are no longer together, is also gripping. The format chosen to dramatise their ordeal of being lost in the rainforest with no food or water for six days contributes to the sympathy you feel for the duo. They recount their story in personal interviews that punctuate a fictional dramatisation of their experience that recreates what they went through on those six days in 2002.

It all begins when the trekkers and wildlife enthusiasts decide to take a long hike through the Amazon rainforest after two days of exploring areas close to their lodge in a remote area of the jungle. You know it’s not going to happen when Crystal says, “So it’ll take three hours. We’ll be back before lunch.” Hardly.

As they take in the blinding variety of native Amazonian flora and fauna around them, Crystal and Dave start to, unknowingly, stray off the marked path on the trail. What they don’t know is that they are now walking on trails made by forest animals before them. They only realise they’re lost when the trail ends abruptly.

Soon, a mild worry turns into crippling fear, as Dave’s incorrect memory of the map he has left behind in the lodge takes them further away from the lodge and deeper into the Amazonian forest, where predators wait. As days turn into night and they grapple with swarms of mosquitoes, ferocious wild pigs, a storm that nearly kills them, fatigue from wandering around in blazing hot temperatures and keeping watch against predators every night, and hallucinations, Dave and Crystal’s chances of survival get bleak.

There isn’t enough conversation between the two in the dramatisation and sometimes there aren’t enough details — like for instance, couldn’t they eat leaves and fruits from around them? But the human touches, like Dave’s poignant realisations about his life and the superhuman effort it takes for a patient of depression like Crystal to do without her medication under trying circumstances for six days, make up. This one is not just another Man vs Nature tale.

On: Monday nights, 9 pm, Discovery Channel 

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