Skip to main content

The Globe-Spanning Adventures of a Round-Headed Man: An Advance Review of An Idiot Abroad

I have a soft spot for travel shows that offer a twist on the now ubiquitous genre, such as the snarkiness of Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.

But it's rare that any of these actually make me howl with laughter. Which is very much the case with Science Channel's new travelogue An Idiot Abroad, which launches on Saturday evening here in the States after a successful run on Sky1 in the UK. This is one show that manages to successfully fuse together pretty pictures of exotic locales, staggeringly hilarious humor, and a round-headed chap with a host of xenophobic issues.

Yes, it stars Karl Pilkington.

If you're unfamiliar with the premise, An Idiot Abroad recounts the globe-spanning journeys of The Ricky Gervais Show breakout Karl Pilkington, here sent around the world to the locations containing the Seven Wonders of the World by close friends Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who executive produce this series and apear on-screen (and on the phone) throughout as they check in with Karl to see what he's gotten up to.

The results are unpredictable and excruciatingly funny, which I would expect from anything involving Gervais and Merchant.

The first episode ("China") finds Karl on a trek to see the Great Wall of China, but his friends have arranged a few surprises for him along the way, including a fiery massage (yes, seriously), kung fu training with a Shaolin devotee, a picturesque lunch of frog in a small village, and a visit to a local market. Along the way, Karl's eyes are opened up (sometimes saucer-wide) to experiences vastly different to his own as he makes his way through the sights and sounds of Chinese daily life, encountering toilet stalls with no doors (this shakes him to his core) and unusual delicacies.

In true Karl Pilkington fashion, his facial and spoken reactions are priceless, his Little Englander mentality coming to the fore the minute he arrives in China, unable to get a reaction from anyone by smiling at them. It's impossible not to love the big buffoon, though, especially as he cracks me up every time he opens his mouth; there's an aura of child-like amusement and discovery with every step he takes. Though I would advise the producers to be sure to keep any sharp objects out of Karl's hands in the future...

Ultimately, this is a novel and hysterical travel show with what might just be one of the most unusual and unexpected hosts ever, one that would rather be at home with his girlfriend and his diary rather than seeing the world at large. Which makes An Idiot Abroad, which Gervais called "the most expensive practical joke ever," absolutely intoxicating and engaging, as Karl is forced to explore some of the most wonderous sights this planet has to offer. Unless you want to be left behind, do not miss this show.

An Idiot Abroad premieres Saturday night at 7 pm ET/PT on Science Channel.


Pepper said…
I love the Ricky Gervais show and have been looking forward to this for awhile. Glad to hear it's just as funny as I'd hoped it would be!

Popular posts from this blog

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian