Reality TV in Maine

Reality TV likes to film on Downeast Maine.

The latest is The Colbert Report, which on Monday aired a humorous segment it filmed last month on MDI about a scallop fisherman who lost a delivery of scallop gonads to a marine scientist when he placed them in the wrong unlocked car at a convenience store in Somesville.

Off the top of my head, I can think of eight or nine other examples of television crews from national TV shows filming in Maine in the past decade or so. There probably are more examples that have escaped me.

The first obvious one that comes to mind is North Woods Law, the popular Animal Planet show that features the working lives of Maine game wardens.

Another is “Dirty Jobs,” the Discovery Channel show hosted by Mike Rowe, which visited Maine multiple times, filming segments on worm digging, on slime eels, and on blueberries (from both the picking and pie baking angles). In 2007, when Rowe was in Milbridge for the slime eel episode, the same Washington County town also hosted ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which built a new home for a local family.

Earlier this year, prior to the Colbert Report bit, Headline News aired an episode of a new program called “American Journey” that it filmed at offshore island communities near MDI. The show (hosted by former “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” host Ty Pennington) came to Maine for a few days last summer to highlight the working lives of Maine lobstermen.

There are more. In 2001, the short-lived Fox program “Murder in Small Town X” filmed several episodes in Eastport. Two years later, the PBS program “Colonial House” built a settlement in a remote part of Machiasport and filmed eight episodes. In 2006, the Food Network show Dinner Impossible filmed an episode on Little Cranberry Island, where celebrity chef Robert Irvine and his assistants had only a few hours to set up and prepare an island-wide harvest supper.

“Reality” is a relative term – especially if the approach is as, shall we say, imaginative as the one the Colbert Report took with the missing scallop gonads story. However, The Colbert Report deserves some extra credit for filing in Maine in the winter – unlike most of the other programs listed here. For many of us who live in coastal Maine, our communities seem more ‘real’ when the tourists aren’t around.

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.