Worse, a lot of the behavior on that show is terrible survival behavior. E.g. when they did the episode in Iceland Grylls at one point jumped into a water filled ravine to make it to the other bank, and planned to dry off in some geothermal area he could see in the distance.
Firstly there's no ravine like that in Iceland that you couldn't easily walk around in 5-10 minutes without getting yourself wet, and secondly jumping into freezing water in the wilderness and thinking you can dry yourself off in some unfamiliar geothermal area you can spot in the distance is beyond stupid.
Most of the world's geothermal areas (including Iceland's) are just a collection of steaming holes in the ground, or water either too hot or too cold to dry off in. It's much better to stay dry than to take such a chance.
There are examples like that in virtually every episodes. E.g. Grylls climbing down a waterfall that he could trivially have walked around.
In much the same way that you generally never want to, for example, be in a situation that causes you to have to use your buddy's secondary breather on a dive, you still want to simulate that while training so that you know what to do if it does happen.
That all said, I totally agree with you in general.
Essentially, if you are on your own, with no rescue coming, you must be super conservative in everything you do. A simple and common broken ankle is now a fatal wound.
With this in mind, you don't charge around everywhere like Grylls does. You don't climb anything you could fall off, you don't make any big jumps. You move slowly and carefully, conserving energy and minimising risk.
Pretty much everything he does, from start to finish, as he runs around for the camera, while entertaining television, is a terrible survival template. You find very few experienced mountain guides that run around like Bear does.
If you go missing, people will come looking with a general idea of where you are, and how far you could have traveled. Once you start trekking around because you saw a river and rivers always lead to civilizations, that's what Bear said, you start increasing the area you could be, while wasting calories and risking injury.
Conserve your energy, make yourself visible (fire, mirror, bright colors, signals), and try to have a decent time.
Who would want to watch a guy starve half of the time and subsists himself on the small flora and fauna he can catch? Nobody. But it's much more realistic and I think much more informative.
Not very survivior-like and incredibly energy wasteful.
On the other hand giving multiple animals a single name and pretending there's an unbroken drama is disturbing because it genuinely distorts stories and might teach the wrong lesson, for example that a species is doing fine, when in fact it's facing major obstacles.
Probably the best example of this is Steve Irwin's shows.
But this probably just mirrors what people want. Everything should be instant gratification - like getting drive through hamburgers.
I personally think that if they set up nice highres cameras at a watering hole (with nice internet connection) it would be better. You would then be able to watch the water hole all day and it would be cheap.
Imagine laying on a couch on a Saturday, reading a book while eying the watering hole in HD on your television/PC...
Maybe by 2012 someone can do a video with (Tina Fey) Sara Palin shown secretly hunting down the last bear in Alaska or something... chase a Russian bear on an iceberg and wrestle for oil rights?
BearGate, the Sara Palin conspiracy
A scene which vividly comes to mind is in Harlan County, USA, where the film-maker gets shot at (!) by one of the anti-union thugs.
One involves a lot of fake, they searched for a spot outside to observe and then rebuild the whole set indoor in order to be able to film growing of the plants .
In the other one they follow a dragon hunting a buffalo around for a long time trying best not to interfere .
But there is more, for one episode a cameramen built a shelter to hide himself from a bird. He had to improve it and stay for a long time to finally catch his footage. (Couldn't find it, sorry)
The other thing I've noticed the BBC do is they reuse footage from one documentary in another, which I guess is fair enough if it's good footage. I'd also be surprised if there wasn't some clever editing with audio to get the results.
I don't let it bother me however.