There's a self-proclaimed Mama Grizzly up there in the land of the midnight sun who'd like to take you on a little tour of the state she loves. Sarah Palin contracted with über-reality producer Mark Burnett to follow her around for eight weeks this past summer to get a look at her outdoors lifestyle and family - husband, Todd, and kids, grandchildren, a niece and parents.
On Sunday you'll see brown bears brawl; watch the former governor interact with the kids; see her and Todd do some rock climbing and scorn a new neighbor, though never by name. That would be writer Joe McGinniss, who rented the house next to her Wasilla compound last summer and who is seen occasionally on a deck, leafing through a book. Palin never looks his way but calls his biography-in-progress "an ugly book."
Mostly, this is just Sarah and the gang getting around their broad-shouldered state: "It is pretty cool to know that I can step out on my front yard and there's an airplane we can hop into."
MY SAY "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is what's known as a Rorschach show. You will see, in other words, pretty much what you want to see. If you're a Palin supporter, then this is Palin in all her glory, as perfect mom, fun-loving outdoors woman, and just about the best future presidential candidate anyone could ever ask for. If you are not, then you will find this show monumentally irritating and its subject a gimlet-eyed hair shirt.
Yes, "Sarah Palin's Alaska" does often feel like a shrewdly constructed piece of political stagecraft, filled with iconography and subliminal messages. Those bears tangling? Why, that's Sarah rasslin' with opponents, as she reminds us: Bears "have got a nature that humankind can learn from." Uh huh.
BOTTOM LINE "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is part-travelogue, part-"Todd and Sarah Plus Eight," part-slick political infomercial, and part Mark Burnett hokum - and oddly fascinating for all those reasons.