More than nine years after History Channel’s Top Shot ended with its fifth and final season, the Colby Donaldson-hosted competition is returning—kind of, sort of, not really, but basically.
Colby will host the new History Channel show Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman, which sounds like a reality TV competition that was pitched as Ultimate Marksman and then History slapped the name of its long-running series on the front of it to entice more people to watch.
That’s because the show has nothing to do with Mountain Men, which is basically The Real Housewives of the Wilderness.
In the new show’s trailer, Colby Donaldson tries to bridge the gap by saying, “The world’s best marksmen shoot like mountain men.” History Channel does that by saying:
“Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman” is an extension of the network’s popular “Mountain Men” franchise with the new competition series aiming to revisit the pioneer spirit and way of life on the old frontier.
Instead of being a reality TV show that follows people in their lives, Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman is a competition between “some of the world’s top marksmen and markswomen” who will be “using centuries-old historical weapons like primitive knives, bows and firearms,” according to History Channel.
They’ll face “several distance, precision, and obstacle challenges – each designed and based off of the history of the American frontier” that will “put their weapons knowledge, accuracy skills, and unique techniques to the ultimate test,” the network said.
Eight episodes will start airing Nov. 3.
How Ultimate Marksman differs from Top Shot
Top Shot was a season-long competition between a group of contestants that eliminated one contestant each episode, and had a Survivor-like teams and game play. After a challenge, the losing team voted two players into an elimination competition.
Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman instead takes a Chopped-style approach: four contestants in each episode competing for $10,000.
Top Shot did have modern weapons, but many of its challenges used primitive weapons, such as Winchester rifles, tomahawks, and a cannon.
Experts would share the history of the weapons, and both the production design and cinematography—which made great use of slow-motion cameras—did an excellent job of capturing them for television.
From the trailer, Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman appears to have similarly designed challenges, with contestant throwing knives through fire, and shooting while moving.
History Channel describes the challenges this way:
Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman tests skilled weapons experts like never before – from using a bow and arrow to hit bullseyes while balancing in a moving river to firing historic rifles through a 12-foot wall of fire. The series incorporates fascinating facts about American history with explaining how weapons were made for successful survival for living off the land. Each weekly, one-hour episode brings together four talented competitors to a ranch in Montana as they strive to become the ‘Ultimate Marksman,’ a title achieved only by completing three rounds of precision-based challenges. Each competitor must use a different centuries-old weapon and technique to effectively hit targets. The challenges also present a unique twist requiring competitors to move through the landscape in a way that only mountain men and women would. At the end of the third and final round, the marksman or markswoman with the highest total points earns the coveted title and walks away with a grand prize of $10,000.
While Top Shot was produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman comes from Warm Springs Productions, which also produces Mountain Men and other shows like Animal Planet’s Louisiana Law and the Fox Nation reboot of Duck Dynasty called Duck Family Treasure
Both shows, of course, have Colby Donaldson as host, which for me, as a person who is not drawn to Mountain Men—not that there’s anything wrong with that!—is the number-one selling point.
I’ll be glad to see him back hosting another competition, even if it isn’t technically Top Shot. Let’s hope it’s as good as that show was.