After spending three years with the Hoffman clan in the great northern tundra, Discovery is throwing a tropical twist in with their new series Jungle Gold, where the familiar rough Alaskan terrain of Gold Rush: Alaska is replaced with the dangerous African jungle. Both have the same goal. But which one do you think is better?
Todd Hoffman and his (now) divided crew kicked off television's proverbial gold rush after heading to Alaska as amateur gold miners attempting to bring home money to provide for their families. Though this element has largely been passed over as of recent - likely because the cast is part of one of cable's strongest series – some additional storylines have been included to help fill the series out.
Parker Schnabel has, for all intents and purposes, taken over where the Hoffman's family storyline began. No longer a series about just gold mining, Gold Rush: Alaska began to show one of reality television's most earnest coming-of-age stories, showing the best and worst of adolescent enthusiasm and conviction. Additionally, "Dakota" Fred helps keep track of things back at the original claim. Though short in story, there's still more to Fred than the villainous character he (sometimes) portrays. Maybe.
But now, three years after the series began, Jungle Gold comes into the picture, serving as a supplemental series to help strengthen Discovery's hold on Friday night. Jungle Gold tells the same tale that Gold Rush: Alaska began with (see above), but this time they're taking the mining to the dangerous African jungle, where tribal chiefs are the only ones able to keep the peace and avoid bloodshed.
Instead of the rustic touch of Hoffman and Schnabel, Jungle Gold has Scott Lomu and George Wright VI, two former-millionaire realtors now struggling to pay the bills. Lomu and Wright may have a sharper plan with their gold aspirations than the Hoffmans initially had, but their location is 10x as dangerous, and not exactly full of gold.
Lomu and Wright pretty much have the same financial goals as the Hoffmans, except that Lomu and Wright will have to remove almost all of the gold in their claim to reach that mark - while the Hoffman's limits appear to only be their ability to run as much dirt as possible. Even if the stories may be similar, Jungle Gold is much more of a suspenseful watch, and not just because of the gold mining.
In Gold Rush: Alaska, stray bears and broken equipment are generally the only dangers we're used to see associated with the mining trade. Now thanks to Jungle Gold, those preconceived notions of flannelled miners are replaced with black market gold buys, armed miners, tribal chiefs and potential bloodshed. And that's just in the first episode.
Comparing Gold Rush: Alaska and Jungle Gold really isn't fair as they both present a different point of view in the world of mining, even if that point of view is of an amateur. Still, it's almost impossible to say that Jungle Gold isn't a more instinctively compelling series, no matter how strong the cast stories of Gold Rush: Alaska may be.
If anything, story may be where Jungle Gold is lacking most. Everyone can relate to the notion of wanting to provide for your family, and Jungle Gold does a good job of conveying that element. However, the former-millionaire backstory and quick pace in which Lomu and Wright are able to progress in the goals, from small (sending money home) to large (finding a new claim), weakens those emotional ties, relying on the dangerous elements of the African jungle to help fuel its story.
But who's to say which is better? Viewers are. So we leave the question up to you: Which do you think is better? Gold Rush: Alaska or Jungle Gold.
Gold Rush: Alaska season 3 airs Fridays @9pm on Discovery
Jungle Gold airs Fridays @10pm on Discovery