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'Homestead Rescue' returns to lend its Alaska expertise to wannabe off-gridders

Marty Raney, one of the stars of Discovery Channel’s reality TV show “Homestead Rescue.” (Discovery Channel screengrab)

Reality Check is back after a short break to enjoy the spring. And just in time, too: A slew of Alaska shows are currently or about to start airing, including the second season of "Homestead Rescue."

For those who missed the last season, it stars the Raney family — a father, son and daughter trio — of the Mat-Su. They travel around the country helping hapless homeowners trying to live off the land a wee bit better. Most episodes follow a pretty typical arc: The Raneys meet the family of new homesteaders, they pick a few projects (digging root cellars, cutting down trees, building a greenhouse), and after they accomplish them everyone hugs around a campfire. But usually someone gets mad at Marty, the father, or Misty, the daughter, before they can get to singing tunes around the fire.

In advance of season two, Discovery Channel is replaying last year's episodes with special new content. This mostly focuses on following Marty Raney around as he does household chores with random Alaska homesteaders. For example, he fixes a roof after a windstorm or helps a friend cut up a tree that fell down. Which is not very interesting, to say the least. I have my own household projects to bore me.

However, the best moments are when Marty decides to show producers his special "inventions." First up: the "canjo." What is a canjo, you ask? Well, it's a gas can, ski and ice scraper screwed together with some strings on it, that acts as a banjo. Sounds cool enough, but then we learn it also serves as a fishing pole. Which we find out when Raney starts singing a song that goes, "I'm a-fishing, playing my canjo. I'm a-fishing, it's cheaper than a banjo."

So we all have that going for us now, which is nice.

Another invention was the wine rake — rakes attached to a shelf to hold wine glasses upside down. There's no song for the wine rake … yet.

Season two of "Homestead Rescue" premieres June 14 on the Discovery Channel.
Also premiering soon is "Alaska Homicide," a brand-new Alaska reality show that will debut Friday, June 2.

Speaking of Discovery Channel, "Alaskan Bush People" is rumored to be filming its seventh season in Browntown, a seasonally populated suburb of Hoonah. As the Brown family has become more famous and under more scrutiny for not being as "Alaskan" as their show suggests, we'll see if they stick to the same format.

Next, "Deadliest Catch" star Nick McGlashan opened up about his on-camera drug and alcohol problems recently. He was fired from his crabbing job on the show after his captain learned about his drug stash in Dutch Harbor. "Deadliest Catch" is currently airing new episodes every Tuesday night, also on the Discovery Channel.

Finally, in the non-Alaska reality TV world, there is a new season of "The Bachelorette" airing that is proving to be just as ridiculous, dramatic and wonderful as all the other seasons. ABC's long-running dating soap opera is a welcome addition to an otherwise sleepy lineup on the main networks.

Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV. You can reach her at realitycheck@alaskadispatch.com or on Twitter @ETFBacher.

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