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A Second Take on "5 Takes: Pacific Rim"

I can't say enough about this fantastic travelogue series, currently airing on the Travel Channel. I love the cast, I love the locales, and I'm even beginning to love the new timeslot (they traveled from Mondays at 8 pm to Thursdays at 10 pm). But I'll admit that I was a little harsh in my initial assessment of one of the Travel Journalists (or TJs as 5 Takes constantly refers to them). Yes, I may have made a snap judgment about Josh.

But even Josh was shocked by how viewers reacted to him and judging from the postings at the Travel Channel's 5 Takes Message Board, I wasn't alone in my thinking that Josh was way too over the top and, well, way too over-caffeinated. But in the last few installments, I've grown fond of Josh and, after realizing how he was coming across on screen, Josh himself has toned down his schtick, transforming himself from a hyperactive ball of energy to an upbeat, genuinely excited traveler. And the self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie's love of danger seems to have rubbed off on his fellow travelers, nearly all of whom bungey-jumped from a 440-foot height in last night's episode, during one of their New Zealand adventures. While Josh's trademark goofiness is thankfully still intact (see the Lord of the Rings playacting in Wellington), he's also found peace in the beauty of his surroundings, such as when he and Tiffany biked to the top of Wellington's Mt. Victoria to watch the sunset.

Speaking of Tiffany, she's really come into her own as well, and has opened up a lot more during the last few installments. She's definitely a free spirit and independent enough to go and do her own thing (visiting geothermal springs and taking a dip) or pull apart from the group altogether. I was proud of the way she stuck to her guns about bungey-jumping, even when everyone else in the gang was doing it. She had researched the dangers, conferred with her parents back in the States, and then watched how terrified Renee had been standing at the edge of the jump point. And she made up her mind. She didn't get to the edge and chicken out (Renee eventually did jump at the end), but quietly decided that she wasn't going to do it; the part of her that would enjoy the experience was missing and she didn't have any impetus to jump. While the group bonded over their experience, Tiffany stood off to the side, sharing in the reflected glow of their jumps. And Josh (again, really amazed with him lately) told Tiff how proud of he was of her just for coming up to the platform with them. Seriously, that's sweet.

Tony and Renee are still...well, Tony and Renee. They are both fun-loving, awesome people whom I could totally see myself hanging out with. Tony is one of those people that can really just talk to anyone and, as the gang's party animal, he's always on the prowl for exciting and off-the-beaten-path nightlife. It was wonderful to get to see him share some of his bartending expertise when he guest judged a mixology competition at a bar in Queenstown this week... and attempt to snowboard (he succeeded quite well for a beginner) with Josh on the Back Bowls of a rather imposing mountain in the clouds. Renee is still the culture vulture, always on the lookout for artistic inspiration everywhere they travel. This week, she met up with a photographer of beautiful Queenstown landscapes and traveled with him to the sites in his pictures, exploring how the light in Queenstown--and New Zealand as a whole--is constantly changing, minute by minute. Total snaps to Renee for going ahead with bungey jump in the end. Terrified to the point of tears, she had to be talked down from jumping in the wrong mindset and then decided to try again and was exhilarated by the experience.

Gabe is still definitely my favorite, if only because his joy of traveling is balanced by some truly harebrained schemes... such as when he and Tony decided to purchase a second-hand trumpet and busk for money on the street (they made $4NZ), or when he decided to play with a jazz band on a whim with no practice, or when, after watching a professional chef make pavlova (the national dessert of both New Zealand and Australia and delicious), decided to recreate the dish back in the hostel kitchen... without knowing the correct measurements, having the proper ingredients, or the right appliances. And even when he nearly burned down the hostel, Gabe finished the dish (sort of), placed his fresh cut-up kiwi segments on top, and fed the dessert to the gang. (He wasn't the least bit put out that everyone--including himself--found it inedible.) He also decided to bungey-jump, despite his crippling fear of heights (remember how afraid he was walking across Harbour Bridge in Sydney?), and ended up loving it. While Josh might be the adrenaline junkie, Gabe has overcome a lot of obstacles (performing in public, fear of heights) to prove that he's the most fearless in the bunch.

Ultimately, I've grown to love this series and the way that multiple viewpoints and inclinations add up to a shared experience on which we, the viewers, are invited to tag along. As the gang leaves New Zealand for the more exotic experiences of Asia (they're headed to Singapore in the next episode), I'm glad to have had the opportunity to look back and expand my own take on the show. I first watched 5 Takes: Pacific Rim on a whim and, as with traveling, half the joy is in finding and experiencing the unexpected. So thanks Josh, Renee, Tony, Tiffany, and Gabe for allowing us to accompany you on your ride. It's been a blast so far and here's to Asia...

"5 Takes: Pacific Rim" airs Thursday evenings at 10 pm on the Travel Channel.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); Dateline (NBC); What I Like About You/Twins (WB); America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC); Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (FOX; 8-10 pm); WWE Friday Night Smackdown (UPN)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS); Last Comic Standing (NBC; 9-11 pm); Reba/Living with Fran (WB); Hope & Faith (ABC)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

9 pm: Doctor Who on Sci-Fi.

Only two episodes left of the sci-fi drama's first season... and with star Christopher Eccleston, so catch him (and it) while you still can. On tonight's installment ("Bad Wolf"), The Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack Harkness--the latest addition to their motley crew--are forced to fight for their lives, but the Doctor learns that Armageddon is upon them. Hmmm, think we'll finally learn the truth behind all the Bad Wolf mentions so far? Or will we have to wait until next season?

10 pm: The Thick of It on BBC America.

The British political satire "so sharp you could cut yourself on it." (According to yours truly, anyway.) On tonight's episode, junior policy adviser Ollie's dalliance with an opposition researcher quickly makes him the butt of easy jokes at the Ministry.


Anonymous said…
The New Zealand episodes have been really great and I definitely want to visit there after seeing all of the beautiful scenery! Surprisingly, "5 Takes" has become one of my favorite shows this season.
Laura Holt said…
Just wanted to thank you for your initial review of this show. I never would have seen it if you hadn't written about it, and it's become one of my favorite things on TV this summer.

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