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Call of the Wildman is an American reality television series that airs on the Animal Planet network. The second season of the series is currently airing. The show follows the exploits of Kentucky woodsman Ernie Brown, Jr., nicknamed "The Turtleman". Aided by his friend, Neal James, and his dog, Lolly, Brown operates a nuisance animal removal business, catching the animals without harming them and releasing them back into the wild. The series is primarily filmed near Brown's Lebanon, Kentucky, home.

Brown began catching snapping turtles from ponds near his home at the age of 7. He came to the attention of Animal Planet producers in part after an episode of Kentucky Educational Television's Kentucky Afield series that featured his bare-handed turtle-catching techniques was posted on YouTube and went viral. After personally visiting Brown and doing some initial filming, network executives decided to produce a 12-episode season of the series with the working title The Turtleman of Wild Kentucky. The title was soon changed to Call of the Wildman, a reference to Brown's distinctive yell that punctuates his actions throughout the series. The series was Animal Planet's most watched program in the fourth quarter of 2011 and was renewed for a second, 16-episode series that began airing in June 2012.

Call of the Wildman has been compared to other reality series featuring individuals from the Southern United States such as Billy the Exterminator, Swamp People, and Rocket City Rednecks. Because it depicts Brown's spartan existence in the backwoods of Kentucky, some poverty advocacy groups have expressed concerns that it exploits stereotypical views of Southerners as being poorly educated, poorly groomed, and impoverished. Network executive insist, however, that they have received no negative feedback about the program.

Biography of the Ernie Brown Jr. (Turtleman)Edit

Ernie Brown Jr. was born and raised in Kentucky.[1] Sometime later, he and his parents, Ernie Brown, Sr. and Lola Brown, relocated to Marion County.Template:Citation needed Brown told entertainment website The Frisky that, when he was 5 years old, he saw a copy of Rolling Stone laying on a table and asked his grandparents what someone had to do to get on the cover of the magazine.[2] From that moment, he began trying to develop a talent that would render him worthy of appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone.[2]

At age 7, Brown caught his first snapping turtle in order to help feed his impoverished family.[2] He removed the Template:Convert animal from a pond using a bare-handed technique taught to him by his father and his uncle.[1] In 2008, he described the technique to a reporter: "Look for [air] bubble trails, dive on top of them, and it's a tug of war from there."[3] While searching ponds for turtles, he fully extends his arm, holds his hand with the index and pinkie fingers extended and the second and third fingers clenched, and peers through the space between the extended fingers; he says this helps him locate and follow the bubble trails.[4]

At age 17, Brown caught the largest turtle of his life; it weighed almost Template:Convert, and Brown nicknamed it "The Loch Ness Turtle" (an allusion to Scotland's famous Loch Ness Monster).[1] In addition to rescuing animals, Brown simulatenously worked in several blue-collar occupations including work at a lumber yard, a dairy farm, and various construction sites.[1] He explains that he lost some of his teeth in a chainsaw accident, more when he broke his jaw in a vehicle wreck, and some more in a construction-related explosion.[2] His wife, Debbie, left him following these accidents.[2] He told The Frisky, "She told me 'I’m not being married any longer to a guy that’s got no teeth.' I didn’t take her seriously, but evidently she was serious."[2] Debbie has custody of their two children, daughters Courtney and Megan, and Brown maintains a cordial relationship with them.[2][5]

On the same day that his wife left him, Brown's house was robbed of all his money and his arrowhead collection.[6] Later that day, he began a six-month, self-imposed exile in the woods near his home.[6] "Everyone thought I died in a pond catching turtles," he said.[6] During this time, he familiarized himself with the behaviors of wild animals and honed his survival skills.[7]

DevelopmentEdit

In 2006, the Kentucky Educational Television series Kentucky Afield devoted a portion of their weekly hunting and fishing oriented show to Brown and his turtle catching.Template:Citation needed The segment was posted on YouTube and went viral; as of June 2012, it had garnered more than 4 million hits.[8] The video and a similar one posted on the web site of the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper attracted the attention of television producer Matt Sharp of Sharp Entertainment.[7] Brown relates that, while performing as a sideshow at the Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a group of executives from Sharp Entertainment and Animal Planet, who were there on an unrelated assignment, approached him about doing a television show.[9] The executives told Brown that they had been trying to get in touch with him for over a year, but that his fellow performers had refused to deliver their messages to him.[9]

In November 2010, Sharp sent a camera crew to film some of Brown's exploits.[7] After seeing the footage, a producer from Animal Planet visited Brown and challenged him to "entertain [her] for 12 hours".[7] Brown told the Herald-Leader that he took the producer on an outing in which he caught 11 turtles and a catfish.[7] Following the producer's visit, Animal Planet decided to air a series of 12 half-hour episodes featuring Brown.[10] Originally given the working title The Turtleman of Wild Kentucky, the name was changed to Call of the Wildman – a reference to Brown's signature yell.[10][11] Brown describes the yell as "an Indian yell" and explains, "I got a quarter Shawnee and a quarter Cherokee. The other quarter is white man – that's a Yankee, Union – and another quarter is Confederate".[12] In addition, Brown frequently uses the catchphrase "Live action!" during the series.[11] He explains that "'Live action' means there’s no faking. People have been calling me fake, and there ain’t no fake. Go ahead and try it! We’re doing it live action."[11]

PremiseEdit

Despite his "Turtleman" nickname, Brown catches all types of nuisance animals, including raccoons, skunks, snakes, venomous spiders, and possums.[13] His animal catching technique is designed to protect both himself and the animal from harm.[3] Once he captures an animal, he relocates it to a safer location in the wild.[3] For his services, he typically only receives an amount sufficient to cover the cost of gasoline to drive to and from his destination.[3]

In each episode of Call of the Wildman, Brown is accompanied by his best friend, Neal James, and his dog, Lolly. James serves as the secretary for Brown's business, fielding telephone calls from individuals in need of his services.[1] Lolly has been Brown's pet ever since he rescued her from wandering the streets in the aftermath of a 2009 ice storm.[1] He doesn't know her exact breed, but he believes her to be part Border Collie and part Australian Cattle Dog.[1] Some episodes also feature other friends who help Brown – the so-called "Turtle Team" – including handyman Jake Ison and David "Squirrel" Brady.[14]

ReceptionEdit

A 2012 press release from Animal Planet announced that Call of the Wildman was the network's most popular show in the fourth quarter of 2011, garnering almost 780,000 viewers, and had been renewed for a second season consisting of 16 episodes, including a special episode to air during the network's "Monster Week".[15] The release further noted that, in the second season, the show would film in locations other than Kentucky, naming Louisiana as an example.[14] The episode "Baby Mama Drama", which aired July 8, 2012, set a record for the show's largest audience ever, an estimated 1.6 million, according to the network.[16]

The popularity of Call of the Wildman has prompted Brown's appearance on several television programs, including two visits to The Tonight Show.[5] Shortly after telling his hometown newspaper, the Lebanon Enterprise that he wanted to meet CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, Brown was invited to appear on an episode of Cooper's show, Anderson Cooper 360°.[5] He told the paper he still has a dream of being on the cover of Rolling Stone.[5]

Associated Press writer Dylan Lovan pointed out that Call of the Wildman was part of a growing number of similarly-themed reality shows that included Animal Planet's Hillbilly Handfishin', A&E's Billy the Exterminator, and History's Mudcats and Swamp People.[8] The Washington Post's Roger Catlin pointed out that many of the shows feature individuals from the Southern United States and include pejorative terms like "redneck" and "hillbilly" in their titles; in addition to "Hillbilly Handfishin'", he cited National Geographic Channel's Rocket City Rednecks and CMT's My Big Redneck Vacation.[17] Lovan noted that "Brown fits the mold of the distinct Southern characters who populate cable TV", noting that he lives in a small home with no television or phone service, is missing his front teeth, and carries a foot-long Bowie knife he nicknamed "Thunder".[8]

Ted Ownby of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture stated that he believes producers of shows such as Call of the Wildman "build on preexisting stereotypes, so they don't need to build characters", and added that "people of the South get frustrated at the narrow range of representations [of them]".[17] Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, expressed his concern that the shows approach "the thin line between an honest documentary and exploitative reality show".[8] Animal Planet president Marjorie Kaplan insisted, "We haven't received any negative response at all" to the show.[17] Commenting on the potential for the show to advance negative stereotypes of Southerners, Animal Planet executive Dawn Sinsel added, "As with all shows that explore a subculture of America that people might not be familiar with, we're careful to make sure that we represent the talent in their true colors and not 'cover up' their natural character. Turtleman likes to catch all types of animals. We hope Ernie's carefree and loyal personality and love of animals will replace any stereotypes."[7] Brown himself commented "You either like the show and watch it, or you don't. I'm not doing anything wrong, just cheering people up."[8]

EpisodesEdit

Re-runs of episodes are enchanced with facts and trivia with behind-the-scenes information, and even additional scenes. These are called "More Live Action" episodes.

Season 1Edit

Title Original Air Date
"The Turtles of Alcatraz Pond" October 30, 2011
"Dirty Jobs" November 6, 2011
"Groundhog Day" November 6, 2011
"Possum Poltergeist" November 13, 2011
"Fort Rattlesnake" November 20, 2011
"Turtle Boot Camp" November 20, 2011
"Trapped Underground" November 27, 2011
"The Snake Pit" December 4, 2011
"Nightmare at Poachers Pond" December 11, 2011
"The Bayou Beast" December 18, 2011
"Danger at the Distillery" December 25, 2011
"Dilapidated Death Trap" December 25, 2011

Season 2Edit

Title Original Air Date
"Miner Threat" June 3, 2012
"Killer at Shaker Village" June 3, 2012
"Santa Claws" June 10, 2012
"Beehive Massacre" June 10, 2012
"Speedway Demons" June 17, 2012
"Hell Hog" June 24, 2012
"French Quarter Coyote" July 1, 2012
"Baby Mama Drama" July 8, 2012
"Jaws of Hell" July 15, 2012
"Trailer Park Stink Bomb" July 22, 2012
"Night of the Digging Dead" July 29, 2012
"Sawmill Slasher" August 5, 2012
"Tee'd Off Turtle" August 19, 2012
"Pig Wallow Predator" August 26, 2012
"Killer in the Cavern" September 3, 2012
"Fairground Fiasco" September 3, 2012

Remainder to be announced.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "The Turtleman (Ernie Brown, Jr.) & Friends". Animal Planet
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Gerstein, "Frisky Q&A: Talking Love & Turtles With 'Call Of The Wildman' Star Ernie 'The Turtleman' Brown Jr. "
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Wilson, "The Turtle Man"
  4. "The Turtleman", 3:44–4:00
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Lowery, "Turtleman takes on The Big Apple"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Maples, "There is a reason Ernie Brown Jr. is called Turtleman"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Copely, "The Turtle Man has caught TV's eye"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Lovan, "Kentucky man catches snapping turtles, TV audience"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Soltes, "Live Action: A one-of-a-kind talk with Turtleman from 'Call of the Wildman'"
  10. 10.0 10.1 Copely, "Animal Planet snaps up Turtle Man"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Pfeiffer, "Live Action! Our chat with Animal Planet’s Turtleman"
  12. "The Turtleman", 1:13–1:38
  13. "About Call of the Wildman". Animal Planet
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Call of the Wildman". Animal Planet
  15. "Live Action: Animal Planet Renews Call of the Wildman and Picks Up New Series, North Woods Law". Animal Planet
  16. "Animal Planet's Call of the Wildman and Gator Boys Set Record Highs Over the Weekend". Animal Planet
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Catlin, "Y'all have a hankerin'for that stereotypin'?"

External linksEdit

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