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Guys smashing stuff: Now, that’s entertainment

Like all manly men, this column occasionally resorts to smashing stuff and stomping on it. Oh, the joys of the night before garbage and recycling collection. An egg carton to stomp on and shove into the paper and cardboard waste. Pure pleasure.

As you'll have guessed, that's usually as far as it goes. But I dream of taking an axe or a sledgehammer to stuff and making smithereens of it. For a while it was a groaning, whining air conditioner that, I felt, was in serious need of several blows from a sledgehammer. That passed. There have been one or two computers and a printer that raised the same temptation.

So you'll understand that, like all manly men, this column is totally good with a show about guys in hard hats, wearing shades, and saying "Bam!" when stuff is crushed, crunched and reduced to small pieces. Yep, that's good entertainment.

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SHRED! (Discovery, 7 and 7:30 p.m.) is a new series that documents and celebrates the world of big-time shredding. We're not talking your paper-shredder here. A show about that would be aimed at wusses, obviously. This one promises that it "goes inside a world where maverick engineers and master tradesmen build monster machines designed to destroy the indestructible. " And it does deliver. Excellent! The series is about the guys at Shredding Systems Inc., and their totally cool machines. In the first episode tonight (there are two consecutive ones) a big "urban mining company" hires our heroes to create a special shredder to mangle and shred a big ol' pile of photocopiers, printers and lord knows what. It's a tricky business, you see. There's not much room in the warehouse and viewers will watch in awe as a guy manipulates the hopper to keep that metal stuff going into the shredder. Believe me, if you're a certain kind of guy, you will be gripped. Cheering, even.

From what I've seen, nobody on this program talks about environmental concerns. Maybe you're okay with that, maybe not. Me I was reminded of the old joke that, in Toronto, the definition of an "anarchist" is someone who throws an old toaster into the green bin for recycling. Hey, it happens. The guys on SHRED! talk about smashing metal stuff and the pleasure of seeing it squished. Also, some of the guys play basketball. The series goes back and forth between the field work, where stuff is squished, and the company HQ back in Portland, Ore., where, it seems everybody plays a game called "Shredsketball." See, if a ball doesn't go into the basket, it gets shredded.

"Shredsketball" is one of those elements of the show that link it to other popular reality shows of the moment, in particular Duck Dynasty. That show always features guys goofing around, playing dumb games. If anything, SHRED! is Duck Dynasty on steroids, and I'd guess there's a market for that.

In tonight's second episode, the guys are hired to help clean up the mess left by the 2011 tsunami that wreaked havoc in Japan. They are required to build a machine, "that can shred a whole city." Yes, indeedy, everything from fishing boats, to houses, to cars, must be squished, and this particular shredder will need to keep working and squishing for years. That episode is like a caper movie done in 30 minutes, without the car chases but with lots of things being smashed. Cool.

In the tradition of Ice Road Truckers and Swamp Loggers, SHRED! offers entertainment for manly men who cannot follow their urges to do really manly activities and must live vicariously through TV shows. It's just a little more subtle than those shows. There's no booming male voice declaring, as you find on Swamp Loggers, "But Bobby's not afraid, because swamp water runs through his veins!" SHRED! is about "gittin' the job done!" and seeing stuff being squished. Me, I now look forward to the night before the garbage and recycling collection with added zest.

Also airing tonight

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls (NBC, 9 p.m.) continues our theme for today. Manly stuff. "Outdoor rock star Bear Grylls leads 10 teams through New Zealand's South Island in this reality competition." Sure thing. A group of comely Americans overcome hardship and pain to survive in the harsh terrain. And, gentlemen, manly men, I ask – don't you wish your name was Bear?

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More


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