Guns star in Kentucky-based reality show
When you think Kentucky, what do you think of? Horses? Bourbon? Rolling hills and limestone cliffs? Bluegrass music?
Country Music Television hopes to change your way of thinking to also include unlimited guns and blowing up big things.
The network launched a new series, Guntucky, on Sunday. Guntucky follows the family that runs Knob Creek Gun Range in Bullitt County.
The title Guntucky is courtesy of CMT, although it is apt. The show features the Sumner family, which runs the range, and follows much the same format that made Pawn Stars successful on History channel. Steven is the mohawk-sporting family leader; his dad, Biff, is the old salt comparable to Pawn Stars' "Old Man"; and Steven's wide-eyed son Payton fills the part of Chumlee, the comic foil who veers between lack of understanding and being secretly smarter than his colleagues.
Steven Sumner says in his voice-over intro that Knob Creek isn't just a shooting range, "It's more like a theme park for gun lovers," featuring "some of the wildest weapons on earth."
"In Kentucky, family comes first, but guns sure as heck are a close second," Steven Sumner says.
Family vignettes alternate with appraisals of unusual firearms (one in which a female store clerk notes, "My, what a big gun you have!") and gun dream dates that feature customers asking to shoot up something special, like a boat or a Civil War cabin. The SKS assault rifle is deemed the "perfect" weapon to blow up the boat, which is rigged with explosives.
The visitors who want to blow up their boat express their glee with the well-known gun-introducing line from Scarface: "Say hello to my little friend."
Viewers follow Steven Sumner and company to Abraham Lincoln's birthplace cabin in Hodgenville as they record its dimensions to best replicate a cabin they plan to build that will be blown to toothpicks.
For after-dinner activity, the Sumner family treats itself to a group shooting of appliances, including a water heater and a washing machine.
In the second episode, which will be broadcast at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, young Payton Sumner asks his father if Lincoln killed vampires.
"Is that a sci-fi thing," asks Stephanie Sumner, Steven's daughter.
"Nah," replies Payton Sumner. "History."
And then the Sumners help answer the question that has troubled mankind for years: Which blows up better, a watermelon or a bowling ball? (Well, OK: watermelon.)
The show is prefaced with a statement that the activities contained therein "should never be attempted or imitated in any way." Ahem.
"Our whole family are jokers," Steven Sumner said during a telephone interview. "We have business that has to be taken care of, but we do it in a fun fashion and we have a good time doing it."
In an early scene, Steven Sumner, 54, comes upon Payton and two teen friends shooting at a water tank. "What the hell did you blow that up for?" he asks the youngsters, explaining that the water tank is used for emergency firefighting.
"Kids these days," he mutters in a studio commentary.
Payton, nonplussed, replies: "Put some duct tape on it, it'll be fine."
"I'm so through with him, I could just run my foot up his butt," Steven Sumner complains to Grandpa Sumner, who reminds Steven that the boy is just like his father.
To make up the slight, Steven Sumner collects the boys' cellphones and shoots each of the phones into oblivion. But there's a twist, which you will have to watch to the end to catch. (Well, OK: The cellphones that were shot up were fakes.)
Knob Creek has a unique location in which to ply its trade, Steven said.
"Here at Knob Creek, we have 600 acres and we border the Fort Knox reservation, and we really don't have any neighbors," he said. "We can do different things. This particular place ... was an old naval proving ground. ... My grandpa and dad bought it, and my dad made a gun range out of it."
Some people, he said, are so dedicated to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that they have their ashes scattered at Knob Creek, a process he describes as "kind of like a land mine going off."
Although several newspaper articles have been published in the area about the new series, area leaders had not heard about its making beforehand.
Unaware of the series until recently, Bullitt County Judge-Executive Melanie Roberts said she supported the concepts behind it:
"Bullitt Countians love our freedom," she said, "and I think this series portrays how important our constitutional rights are and that we want to continue to be a free people."
When: 9:30 p.m. Sundays on CMT; repeats throughout the week.
By Cheryl Truman