Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Trial By Fire on History Channel

The History Channel has been working on creating new shows at a faster rate than any of the other channels owned by Discovery. This is great to see for a network that we joking referred to in College as the "World War II channel". Unfortunately, their last new show I was really interested in, History Hacker, was unfortunately not picked up.

According to Bre Pettis, the show wasn't considered a good fit for History's older audience. I feel a bit sorry for Pettis, largely because I really wanted the show to do well. This is part of the reason why I was so surprised to see the announcement for the new pilot, Trial By Fire.

Frankly, the show looks awesome, and having seen the first episode, I'm excited about the possibility of the show continuing. If you missed tonight's airing, the only other scheduled showing at the moment is 3am on Sunday. I swear, I think History is trying to sabotage the program.

In the pilot, Tim Ferriss, a well known lifehacker tries to learn the Japanese art of Yabasume, or horseback archery. In five days.

And in case your wondering, Ferriss isn't a horseback rider or an archer.

The show is fascinating because Ferriss talks a lot about the various tricks that he uses to teach himself these very difficult skills in a relatively short period of time. For instance, he practices the motions of drawing the bow and reloading before bed, to help ensure the muscle memory is fresh as he goes to sleep, and then wakes up four and a half hours later (between REM cycles) to practice again.

I fear, however, that Ferriss is even less likely to mesh well with the older audience the History Channel claims to have. It seems to me that Pettis was more likely to succeed with that audience, but I really do hope I'm wrong.

Trial By Fire is a fantastic idea for a show. The tricks you could stand to learn just by watching the show could be invaluable for becoming a more effective person. Admittedly, it's not just tricks that allow Ferriss to succeed. The man is clearly driven. He's clearly very athletic. But ultimately, even if most people lack the sheer level of drive of a man like Ferriss, the tricks he uses could still be useful.

Even if you're not interested in the tricks and methods, Ferriss keeps the show interesting, and the show is well shot and structured. It's entertaining, and I certainly hopes it entertains the right people to keep it on the air.