Tonight (Friday, Oct. 26), Discovery Channel premieres the third season of its hit reality show “Gold Rush,” again following men trying to strike it big as gold miners way up north in Alaska and Canada.
After a day-long marathon of previous seasons, the fun starts at 7:30 p.m. (ET) with a 90-minute special called “Do or Die.” Executive producer Christo Doyle, who has been the host of the show’s online after-show, talks to the miners about what happened on the homefront in the off-season and what viewers can expect from the new episodes. At 9 p.m. ET, those episodes kick off with “Million Dollar Season.”
The original mining crew whose story launched the series — a group of hard-luck fortune-seekers led by Oregon native Todd Hoffman and his father, Jack — is back in Canada’s Klondike region, chasing a thus-far elusive motherlode.
But, when Todd Hoffman isn’t battling budgets, the elements or the earth itself, he’s squaring off with Doyle. As bromances go, it’s a love-hate relationship.
“He’s got an arrogant streak in him,” says Hoffman of Doyle, over lunch on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Los Angeles. “He believes he’s God’s gift to television, right? But here’s what’s hard for him to understand — the biggest show, basically, in Discovery’s history was thought up by me, not him. I think, down deep, that bothers him.
“So he has made a step, which these executive producers won’t do, he has gone from behind the camera to in front of the camera. Here’s the deal with Christo — he’s smart; he’s sharp, really sharp. He didn’t have visions of grandeur; he’s not trying to become a TV star. He was asked to do this by the bosses.
“But since he’s on there, and since he’s kind of a metrosexual kind of guy, and since he’s arrogant, and he wants to step in front of the camera, I’ll oblige him. Obviously, he thinks he’s smarter than me; I think I’m smarter than him, so we battle all year. You wouldn’t believe the fights we get into.”
Starting on Friday, Nov. 9, there will also be “The Dirt,” a total of seven one-hour specials, each preceding a new “Gold Rush” episode. In them, Doyle continues his role from the online show and the premiere special, talking to the miners about their experiences.
According to Hoffman, sparks will fly.
“They came on location this time,” he says, “came up to the mine. I think there’s an episode of ‘The Dirt’ that’s better than an episode of ‘Gold Rush.’ And what you’re going to see this year on ‘The Dirt’ is me and him go at it. We get into it.”
But, Hoffman does have a softer side, which appears when ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” comes into the conversation.
“You know what,” he says, “they were looking at me. Here’s a little secret — I can ballroom dance. I can actually sing and dance. Literally, there were rumblings from an agent who’s booked five to 10 people on that. They called me. He’s like, ‘Listen, I’ve booked people on the show.’
“They couldn’t handle a guy from ‘Gold Rush,’ because I am not only fast on my feet, I would win that, baby, and that probably wouldn’t be good for the show.”
And he’s serious about knowing how to dance — and who’s the boss at home.
“I used to like the waltz and the foxtrot,” he says. “I used to go to lessons with my wife, then I stopped going. Then all this TV crap, you really don’t have time. Even if I made it on there, my wife probably wouldn’t let me do it.”
As for the actual gold mining, Hoffman says, “We came back alive. I can’t tell you how much gold we got, but I can tell you there are a few episodes that are hard to watch for me. But you know what, I look back and, every year, it’s the same thing.
“It’s a roller coaster, five months. They love it when we get completely exhausted.”
There may also be some fresh eye candy for the female viewers.
“You might dig the kid we bring in,” Hoffman says. “The kid’s a superstar. He’s a reality stud. You’re going to like this kid, Mitch [Blaschke].
“I’ve got two young guys this year, 20 and 18. They’re funny. They’re my nephews. They’re ‘Dumb & Dumber’ — Sterling and Logan.”
Sterling Anderson is indeed a nephew, the son of Hoffman’s sister, but Logan Pierce is actually the son of a cousin.
“I call him my nephew, but he is my second cousin,” Hoffman says. “It’s going to be easier, because he calls me Uncle Todd.”
Hoffman also has to find time to get together with buddy Willie Robertson, the head of a Louisiana-based duck-call manufacturing business and one of the stars of A&E’s hit reality show “Duck Dynasty.”
“I’m supposed to go down there,” Hoffman says, “and eat frog’s legs with him. Doesn’t that sound appealing?”
Oh, and before he lunch is finished, Hoffman drops this enigmatic nugget (or gem, as the case may be).
“The only thing that would make gold mining better is if you added diamonds to it.”