“Shipping Wars” vs. Shipping Bores

I was flipping channels the other night, and caught the pilot of “Shipping Wars.” It was pretty entertaining, although I had to reassure my husband that professional trucking companies would not indulge in some of the risky behaviors seen on TV.

“Shipping Wars” followed a few individuals – and one couple – who haul unusual freight in their trailers, pickup trucks, vans and straight trucks, plus one actual big rig. The pilot episode opened with four people bidding for loads on an auction-style web site. Next, you see the bid winners loading their trucks with oversized, oddly shaped freight, sometimes with great difficulty, and driving long distances through some hair-raising situations.

Among the more dramatic moments:

  • One driver gets pulled over and fined for pulling an unlicensed trailer. He calls his dad for money so he can register the trailer, and he has to stop overnight to get the tags. He needs more freight to make money, so he looks for loads with text messages and cell phone calls—you guessed it – while he’s driving. In the end, he loses more than $1,200 on the trip.

  • Another driver has to construct a custom crate on the spot when he picks up a 13-foot tall metal sculpture. Then he drives through New York’s Lincoln Tunnel without knowing for sure whether there is enough clearance to keep from destroying the one-of-a-kind museum piece. His contract stipulates that he must deliver within 36 hours of pickup or lose half his pay for the job, so naturally, he doesn’t discuss HOS rules or highway speeds.

As with most “reality” shows, this one also features brief interviews with the various drivers, including one actual owner-operator, and they all criticize each other’s behavior.

I was left wondering what it would be like if we had our own show, featuring carriers on the DAT Network. I think I know the answer. There’s no drama there. What’s entertaining about professional trucking companies who pick up and deliver on schedule, obey the law, make a profit and maintain their equipment, day in and day out? Our kind of trucking is good business, but it’s not good TV. We’d have to call our show “Shipping Bores.”

What do you think?