The Learning Channel's newest original series, Sarah Palin's Alaska might be more interesting to me if I actually like the star of the show. As it is, I have watched a few episodes just get a feel for it and even though Sarah grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalk board this is really only a minor irritation when I consider the other aspects of the program.
Alaska itself is one of the most beautiful states in the union. Unspoiled, mostly undeveloped, and a glimpse into a time long passed, the ambience of Alaska is just irresistible. Most people got a feel for the place back when Northern Exposure was on the air, but this show actually gives you gorgeous panoramas of the real place in all its natural glory. The mountains, the streams, the ocean that surrounds three fourths of it, the blue sky overhead, Alaska could be the star of the show all by itself. It's just that beautiful.
The extended Palin family also gives the viewer something to focus on besides the harpy at its center. Todd Palin is really much more interesting than anybody thought he could be. His past as a salmon fisherman, and a successful one to boot, is impressive. That his son Track is carrying on the family business in this forum is quite touching.
The other Palin children are also fun to watch most of the time. They come across as ordinary kids growing up in an extraordinary place, with an extra-extraordinary mother who really loves them. In fact, the whole family seems very close knit and Todd is extremely demonstrable in his affection for his kids. The youngest, born with Down Syndrome, is a cutie who is a delight to watch. The way the rest of the family goes out of its way to see that he's being brought up without any pity is worthy of applause.
But it's Sarah Palin herself who remains the centerpiece of the whole show. One does get a different feeling about her as she displays herself as a wife and a mother, focused on her family, but pursuing a high profile career in politics as a public figure. You have to wonder if she's just using this series as a platform to warm up the populace to her for a possible White House run in 2012. After all, she did come off as something of a caricature in the 2008 race, and the way McCain used her as an obvious pawn was laughable.
Still this isn't a bad show. It has that gorgeous Alaskan backdrop, a family that endears itself to an extent, storylines that revolve around more than just the famous mom, and a general likeability factor that is not just confined to the right wing either.
If only Sarah Palin wasn't the star. She just gets on my nerves.
Not everybody's cup of tea but still worth a watch or two nonetheless.
3 Stars out of 5.