I can’t exactly say I was a fan of "Bubba’s World" last season when the FUEL TV series about Supercross / motorcross superstar James Stewart first kicked off. The attempt to show us Stewart’s life at home came close to the banal.
It felt more like a bargain spin-off of "Cribs," with footage of Stewart driving his array of expensive sports cars and moving into his first home. There was even a hint of some of the scenes being orchestrated and scripted for the cameras.
Season two kicked off December 2nd (again on FUEL TV) and right out of the gate the producers seem to have found a much more engaging and solid foundation that has a much more sincere and dramatic blend.
Whereas last season reflected a kind of sophomoric theme of James trying to reclaim some of his lost youth due his demanding status as a life-long racer, the show started off fresh this week with some heavy realities.
There’s even a new degree of maturity reflected in Stewart’s face as he comes to grips with where he presently stands; one of the fastest riders on Earth, having been sidelined with a potentially career-ending injury.
The very real drama surrounds the wrist injury Stewart sustained early into the 2010 Supercross season. A misdiagnosis led to a failed attempt at a return to racing. A later MRI revealed Stewart had broken a small bone in his wrist (almost the same injury that ended the career of Ricky Johnson).
The regular slate of friends, sponsors, agents, and family are all back-with James’ younger brother Malcolm having matured considerably, now taking his aspirations to race a great deal more seriously.
The show delves into the harsh, often cruel realities of racing, the demands put on these superstars and, ultimately, shows what motorcycle racing is really all about; business.
On the episode aptly entitled, "The Frustration," we follow James-unable to ride-as he attends all of the 2010 rounds of the Supercross series to sign autographs and uphold his responsibility to sponsors.
But what we also see is Stewart’s immense frustration at having to watch Ryan Dungey race his way to the Supercross title, taking away the number one plate Stewart barely had a chance to ride with.
As the show progressed the original estimates of recovery from wrist surgery to insert a pin go from 3-4 weeks, to a few months, progressing to five months.
The look on Stewart’s face as he waits for each successive report from the doctor’s is heartbreaking. The gravity of the situation makes Stewart, one of the sport’s most famous personalities and one of racing’s most gifted riders, very human.
The show ended with Stewart going in for an MRI to see how the wrist is healing and to answer when (if) Stewart will be cleared to ride in the upcoming 2011 Supercross Championship.
In Stewart’s absence a number of riders have stepped up to take the limelight, making it all the more important for Stewart to return to the sport and reclaim his place. You can see the hunger in Stewart’s eyes. And I’ll certainly be checking in next week to watch the new episode.
Bubba’s World airs Thursday nights on FUEL TV. Check listings for times.