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The Green Life: New Reality Show "Coal" Premieres Tonight

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March 30, 2011

New Reality Show "Coal" Premieres Tonight

A world scrambling for energy hasn't yet turned its back on coal, despite its dangers. But when we weigh its pros and cons, we often leave out the miners themselves, men whose families have been going underground for generations. A new show, premiering tonight on Spike, aims to remind us of those men.

Coal, on at 10 p.m. ET, is a documentary-style reality series in the vein of History's Ice Road Truckers and Discovery's Deadliest Catch. That is, it captures narrow escapes from collapses, elation at the end of a profitable day, and everything in between. The miners themselves, almost unrecognizable under a layer of black grime, seem to step out of a bygone time. Their thick Appalachian accents often necessitate subtitles, and it's immediately evident that for these men, coal's the only game in town: "It's 'bout all I know. Minin' co'," says one in a trailer for the show.

It might seem like the adrenaline is running out on shows that feature grizzled men doing back-breaking, life-threatening work. Softies behind office desks can only take so much emasculation, y'know? But especially after the Japanese nuclear disaster set us rethinking our energy sources yet again, Coal is topical enough to be worth watching, if only to hear a usually mute voice in the coal debate.

For the record, the Sierra Club sees coal as a dirty, wasteful energy source and is opposed to further mining.

--Tim McDonnell

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