The Outsiders on ABC Primetime

09. July 2008 Personal, Reviews 12

Anyone else watch Primetime: The Outsiders last night?  I don’t normally get into TV, Shala can vouch for that fact… but this show the minute I saw the previews had me mesmerized.  The whole point of this show is to show stories of situations that “normal” people could not relate to – or maybe to us… seem crazy.

By getting an inside look, we move from being an “outsider” to being an “insider”.  Or some crap like that.

That is what I got from it anyhow.

So this first one was about a man that lived in Alaska and had created a sanctuary for bears at his home.  Now this isn’t the same as someone creating a place where you cannot hunt or something… it was actually a guy rolling around in the grass with “wild” bear and becoming friends.

Now before we get too far into this, I do not want this to get mixed up with the story from a few years back about Timothy Treadwell.  You remember the guy who went out into the wild of Alaska and “lived” with bear, along with his girlfriend.  They video taped it all and were eventually killed and eaten by a grizzly bear on October 5th of 2003.

Later a documentary was made using the footage acquired by Treadwell & his girlfriend Amie Huguenard.  Grizzly Man was released in 2005 and out of respect the audio portion of the actual attack was not used in the documentary.

That backstory was mearly to help you distinquish the difference in the two.  The man featured in Primetime: The Outsiders goes by the name of Charlie Vandergaw.  Charlie is a 70 year old former science teacher that as spent the last 20 years in a remote bush area where he has befriended bears.

Charlie is admittedly a bit crazy, since he does spend lots of time with his furry friends – but it is obvious he has something that most of us do not have.  Almost as if he can “speak” bear.  His actions are insane to the outsider’s eye.  Quickly you realize just exactly what I am talking about when he swats a 300 pound black bear on his nose because he was messing with his window.  It helps you to realize just what I am talking about when I say “speak” bear.

Even though Charlie is crazy in most folks eyes… you will be amazed at how special his relationship with these bears is.  You can see his love and respect for these awesome animals and quickly you are pulled in and thinking you want to pet a bear.  Really.  To see him with a 400 pound bear laying its head on his stomach while he pets its ears… you wonder if these “beasts” are really “beasts” at all.

Charlie Vandergaw & his bears.

I know a lot of people will be mad at this guy and saying he is teaching folks to go out and pet bears.  I don’t think that is the point of this show though.  People are going to gripe about how he is training these bears by feeding them (which is illegal), but once again… I don’t think this is the point of the show.  I think we are shown this to help realize that bears & humans can live around each other – respect each other and possibly interact in some levels… whichout there being a SUPER HIGH sense of danger.  Do I think everyone should be feeding bears in their front yard, No.  Do I think that we should live amongst them and invite them in our kitchens… no.  But having a bear roam through town or pass 400 yards away shouldn’t be that big of a deal if you don’t provoke them and vice versa.

Just like any animal, there are bad seeds amongst bears.  There are blood thirsty bears that have tasted flesh and crave it… but that percentage is low and unless you plan on camping in their hunting trails and such… you will likely never encounter them. 

I hope that most people will take this show for what it is.  No, you shouldn’t be snuggling up with a grizzly after watching it, nor should you move to Alaska and decide to start hand-feeding black bears either.  But understand that Charlie chooses to do this and respects the bear and the land – he knows with one slap of a bear’s claws he can be finished… but he also feels a connection that he believes keeps this from happening. 

All in all… I don’t think that connection is one sided either.

I am excited to see the next special, not sure what it is about just yet, but I am sure it will open my eyes a bit more on life, this crazy world and maybe a group of people I have no clue about.  I hope you will do the same.


12 thoughts on “The Outsiders on ABC Primetime”

  • 1
    d lombard on July 9, 2008

    James is absolutely right about what the point of Charlie’s relationship is to the “wild” beast of the forest. We can and should not kill them as soon as we see them in the wild. Relax … so says Charlie and so it is. I loved seeing this show!

  • 2
    James on July 10, 2008

    @d lombard – thanks for stopping by, I actually watched it again last night (we had it on our DVR) and I was amazed again.

  • 3
    susie rios on June 14, 2009

    Charle is actually living before he dies!

  • 4
    Ms. V on June 23, 2009

    I think it’s beautiful that Charlie lives among the bears. I enjoy nature,God’s creatures,but would prefer not ot live with them. If Charlie wants to live the remainder of his life this way who are we to judge. MAY GOD BLESS YOU CHARLIE, LIVE YOUR LIFE !

  • 5
    gillian on September 1, 2009

    I think Charlie is an idiot – these bears are WILD – not only is he putting the bears in jeopardy by teaching them that humans can be trusted but he is putting innocent people in jeopardy by teaching the bears that people are a food source

  • 6
    solitaire605 on September 1, 2009

    While I think it is absolutely wonderful to share the life of all animals wild or domestic what Charlie did by feeding these wild creatures was wrong! You have got to allow them to remain wild and get their own food for their own survival. Sadly he realized this and had to fence off the house from the bears. Now they are forced to figure out how to survive with their food source gone. Yes he had a grand time with them and a unique experience but his ego got the better of him and he lost sight of what was in the best interest of the bears. God Bless the bears and protect them from the idiots that can now walk right up to them and possibly do them harm instead of feeding them!

  • 7
    Henry Thome on September 2, 2009

    Nice to see the SA is doing well and operating out of Alaska. I say SA, because it was frought with faggots and only faggots would roll in there on helicopters with rifles, shotguns and sidearms to curtail the activities of as mild a mannered man as I have ever seen interviewed. These are the same caliber of ATF palookas who shot the kid’s dog on Ruby Ridge and started that whole confrontation. Real proud moments in our nation’s history, I’m hear to tell you! Hey, dirtbags, the guy is coming out sooner or later, tag him then!!!

  • 8
    Susan on September 2, 2009

    I especially liked the part where he comfronted a couple of hunters & their close experience to the bears & their expressions as they walked away with their guns down & mouths hanging open as if to say ‘wow’, what am I carrying this gun for? Rethinking humanity,maybe?

  • 9
    donna on September 2, 2009

    that show was amazing. my heart bleeds for charlie. but more so for the bears that were locked out of a loving home they knew for years. i am also an animal whisperer and feel so much pain for them all. is there a petition we can sign to help charlie not do any jail time. he was on his property. i know laws are laws but gimme a break!!!! i love you charlie and i am so sad for you and the bears also

  • 10
    Kelli on September 2, 2009

    My 9 year old and I were totally intrigued by Charlie and his bear sanctuary on primetime. My point to make is, even as a 9 year, my son could respect and understand Charlie’s special gift. I was so glad to find other positive comments on this site about Charlie and I really pray that he will be allowed to carry out the rest of his life living his dream.

  • 11
    Lynn on September 2, 2009

    I saw this show last night (apparently re-aired on 1 September 2009) and was touched on so many levels. As an animal lover, I was so “jealous” of the relationship Charlie had with his bears. I was equally heartbroken when he had to leave them, and go so far as to put up an electronic fence.

    Charlie is clearly a special human being! Look at the way he changed the hunters he encountered on his property!

    I also was amazed at the breathtakingly beautiful landscape!!

  • 12
    shasti on October 2, 2009

    i agree with everything u guys have said about this guy, and Lynn i’ve been thinking the same things as u have written. i do jealous of him, and wish one day i could go to his cabin phaps.

    but i never knew before about those lame minded people who apart charlie from the bears. so how is it goin for now? does charlie have no other choice but to leave the bears as he was told to do so?if yes, i completely can’t accept this!!! i mean cant they just see that human-animal bond is something so amazing and rather than ruining it we better build it instead?(for not so many ppl care that much about animals) and charlie had been doing this stuff for 20 years or so, what’re they thinkin, really!?

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