‘Running Wild': Bear Grylls Finds Great Delight in Trying to Kill Zac Efron

If you missed it last night (and shame on you if you did), NBC put up the entire premiere of  Running Wild with Bear Grylls, which featured guest adventurer Zac Efron. In it, Zac joins Bear in a two-day trek through the Catskills, and because Bear Grylls is involved it eventually involves urine. Besides that, it was a beautiful mishmosh of biceps, earthworms, manliness and danger, as well as a testament to Zac Efron’s hair and its ability to stay perfectly styled in the wild. Honestly, though, the best part of the show is Bear Gryll’s child-like glee for not only putting himself in horrible situations, but genuine delight at bringing people with him into said horrible situations. I almost expected at any point for Bear to yell jovially into Zac’s face, “We’re not in East High anymore, Bolton,” which is a High School Musical reference that I immediately apologize for.

Here are my absolute favorite moments from the premiere, going chronologically but also in hindsight I realize its in descending order of clothes worn by both Bear and Zac.

  • Like I said, Bear Gryll’s obvious enthusiasm for pushing Zac Efron out of a helicopter just put the biggest smile on my face. “He’s used to millions of screaming fans. But this time, it’s Zac that is going to be doing the screaming,” Bear says.
"Haha, maybe he'll die!"

“Haha, maybe he’ll die!”

  • “Parachuting is one of those things where its best to figure out how to use them before you jump.”
This is even harder than acting

This is even harder than acting.

  • I’m pretty sure NBC made Zac sign an ironclad contract that stated he must stand with his arms above his head every single chance he gets. “Is his bicep tattoo showing? Well get it to show, DAMMIT!” –An NBC executive.
Oh, this? This is how I stand.

Oh, this? This is how I stand.

  • “We’ll know by the smell. If it’s really bad, we know we can’t eat it,” Bear says of an obviously un-eatable groundhog carcass that they happen to find rotting at the bottom of a waterfall. Bear then dares to make the star of 17 Again smell it up close, just to double check.
BG 5

“It…it smells like John Travolta on the set of Hairspray.”

  • Because they are denied a meal of decaying groundhog, Bear and Zac partake in a strangely sensual sharing of an earthworm. “Just remember you have to chew it, you don’t’ want it wriggling all the way.” That’s forward.

BG 6

BG 7

And ‘Nothings Gonna Stop Us Now’ by Jefferson Starship played, at least in my head.

  • Bear teaches Zac the benefits of having a “pee bottle” that you can keep in your sleeping bag to keep you warm at night. For some reason in my notes I wrote the word “useful” and underlined it three times.
Cheaper than blankets.

Cheaper than blankets.

  • Listen, I’m fully aware that NBC did not push Zac Efron out of a helicopter without a shit ton of training beforehand. So I’m also not naive enough to think that they didn’t have some safety plan other than a rope held by Bear when Zac crossed this gorge on a rope. I know, I know. But then why are my hands sweating so much?!
"Save him, Bear!" a source that wished to remain anonymous but also might be me.

“Save him, Bear!” a source that wished to remain anonymous but also might be me.

  • “But, sir! He is opening up about facing your fears and living life to the fullest…” – An NBC intern. “Get his forearm in the shot, DAMMIT,” – An NBC executive.
BG 11

Stupid sexy Zac Efron.

  • Gearing up to repel down the side of a waterfall, Bear decides the two of them need some motivation. Motivation comes in the form of Bear throwing their survival packs over the side of the cliff, reminding me that he is actually a military-trained scary guy AND someone I would never want to go camping with.
My....my BlackBerry.

My…my BlackBerry.

  • “You know what? You’re right. I shouldn’t be pushing so hard for Zac Efron to roll up his sleeves. That isn’t what people tuned in for.” – An NBC executive.
This is what they tuned in for.

This is what they tuned in for.

  • So Zac and Bear eventually make it out of the wild and learn a few lessons along the journey. And if you think this show ends any other way then the two of them riding away, shirtless, on a single ATV well then you just haven’t been paying attention.
BG 14

Which is your loss, really.

So now that the inaugural Zac Efron episode is out of the way, I’m sure Running Wild’s second episode will cut back on the gratuitous ab and arm shots. It features…Ben Stiller. Huh. I guess it all depends on whether or not we are getting Tropic Thunder Ben Stiller or everything else Ben Stiller.