Review: 'Bering Sea Gold'

Post by: Rick Ellis 26 October, 2021

Discovery's Bering Sea Gold has been on the air long enough that it doesn't need much of an introduction. People are searching for gold in the Bering Sea near Nome, Alaska. It's hard, you can broke and the people most attracted to this feast-or-famine of a profession tend to be...eclectic and quirky.

Season fourteen of the show is premiering on Tuesday and it'll be a bit of comfort TV watching for new and old fans alike, assuming you ignore an annoying bit of framing by producers. But more about that later.

It's wintertime and some of the show's familiar faces are back to try and find more gold under the ice. Shawn Pomrenke has been on the show since the very beginning and like pretty much every season, he's both the miner most likely to find large amounts of gold while simultaneously trying to pay off massive debts. Over the past few seasons he has bought his father's share of the business, invested in new leases and equipment. He ended the summer just making the money he needed to survive and the winter mining season kicks off with him frantically trying to pay down his bills.

Zeke Tenhoff is another season one veteran, although he returned last season after spending a few years away from the show. Although while he's older, he's not necessarily wiser. His summer mining crew wasn't able to stick around for the winter, so he's recruited a couple of friends who are commercial fishermen with no mining experience. It goes as well as you might expect and in the premiere episode, they spend hours digging holes in the ice in hopes of finding good mining ground. Then when they do find it, they manage to forget which hole is the correct one.  To help out, he temporarily brings in Steve Riedel, the erratic goofball miner who is also the father of miner Emily Reidel. Steve is one of those people who can be more trouble than he's worth, but that didn't keep miner Vernon Adkison from bringing him onto his crew last season. So either Steve Reidel is a) a better miner than he appears to be, b) the only guy available in Nome, or c) someone the producers bring in to shake things up.

Speaking of Vernon Adkison, he's back as well. Although he spends the entire premiere episode sitting in a bar, waiting for the storm to clear. 

And then there is Kris Kelly, part of the infamous Kelly mining family. The family joined the show in season three, with father Brad as Captain of the Reaper (formerly the Minnow). along with his sons Kris and Andy. And in the ensuing seasons, the Kellys managed to be agents of chaos in the Bering Sea. They generally found only modest amounts of gold each season, but what they lacked in output they made up for with an uncanny ability to make the absolute worst decision in any situation. There have been inter-family mutinies, a bit of claim jumping, arguments with nearly every other captain on the show and all the while they're not putting a lot of gold in their pockets.

Kris is now on his own and after a decent experience last summer, he is returning with $15,000 worth of new equipment that he bought on credit. So I am sure that will turn out to be a wise decision.

Think of Bering Sea Gold as The Real Housewives of the adventure reality TV genre. The hunt for gold is interesting enough, but it's not all that compelling to watch people vacuum up dirt underwater. It's the personalities that keep viewers coming back and the show has a solid mix of characters.

The one annoying aspect of the season premiere is that producers decided to frame the episode by beating viewers over the head with a gambling analogy. The episode opens with the captains sitting around a table playing cards, and the narration of the episode leans heavily on the poker references. Aside from the fact the scenes are just annoying, the cuts distract from the flow of the episode. The references are also pointless, since it should be clear to anyone who has watched the show for more then ten minutes that gambling money and perhaps your life is the core principal of Bering Sea Gold.

Despite the slight aggravations, Bering Sea Gold is back and I'm glad. It's a show that I use as a mental palate cleanser. And in the case of Kris Kelly, it reminds me that no matter how ill-advised my life decisions might be, there are people in the world who are even worse at decision-making than I am.

Season fourteen of Bering Sea Gold premieres on Tuesday, October 26th, 2021.

Last modified on Tuesday, 26 October 2021 14:43