Bubblin' Crude: Black Gold, from the Deadliest Catch guys

The Texas oil-derrick show Black Gold, debuting this week on truTV, is the latest example of too-tough-for-you reality programming — following executive producer Thom Beers’ hit shows Deadliest Catch on Discovery and Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel — in which a job (crab fishing in the Bering Sea; driving semis over lakes of frozen ice) is presented as fit for only the bravest, most rugged and usually rowdiest of souls. On Black Gold, we meet three über-macho teams of West Texas drilling crews vying for the same potential pool of crude thousands of miles below the surface, and, as you can imagine, There Will Be Peril. But apart from the physical kind — falling from the tops of derricks, getting crushed by pile-driving iron, losing limb or life from a fast-unraveling, high-speed-snapping hunk of chain — there’s the management kind: the thousands of dollars lost by the hour when any snafu halts drilling, the worm (slang for a rig newbie) who can’t seem to show up on time and the hard partiers (an understandable sort given the backbreaking work) who simply don’t show up at all the next day. Of course, an average viewer’s appreciation of the danger depicted on Black Gold will surely be tempered by his or her own apprehension pulling up to a gas station to fill up on the wallet-shredding output from these sweaty, foulmouthed, well-paid men and the millionaire wildcatters who hire them. At the very least, watching this entertaining series, you can tip your hat to the grimy laborers out in the field who seriously earn their pay, and still reserve your disdain for the wealthy oilman who talks of his homeland-drilling operation as if he were a savior in the effort to wean us off foreign oil. Sell me old energy, fine. Just don’t try to sell me new bullshit.


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