Monday, January 23, 2012

It’s like a game of Jenga that's got out of hand

Poor Karl!  It's his misfortune that he attracted the attention of merry pranksters Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (the creative team behind "The Office").  Karl Pilkington was working as a radio producer for Ricky Gervais' radio program when his unique personality and unusual views of the world caused Gervais and Merchant to recognize his comic potential.    Because Karl is completely uninterested in life outside of his own little area, his "friends" decide to send him on a trip to the Seven Wonders of the World to "broaden his mind."  And so An Idiot Abroad was born.

The 2-disc set of the first series of An Idiot Abroad was released on Jan. 20.  If you haven't seen the series, you're in for a treat!  At the beginning of each of the travel episodes, Karl meets with Ricky and Stephen for an overview of what "wonder" he'll be visiting soon.  Karl remains singularly unimpressed.  His expression of bewilderment and lack of enthusiasm for any of the trips help to set the tone for the latest expedition.

Here is an overview of the wonders that Karl is going to visit, and his take on some of them:
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The wonders visited include the Great Wall of China (re-named the "OK Wall of China" by Karl), the rock city of Petra, the Taj Mahal, Chichen Itza, the Great Pyramids, the Christ the Redeemer Statue, and Machu Picchu.  Although generally unexcited to be visiting such landmarks, Karl generally has to endure several unexpected surprises before getting to the wonder.  Here is a look at Karl getting some training in the martial arts:

video

Food is a constant source of anxiety during the trips.  In one memorable whinge, Karl wonders why the people in his host country "don't just eat normal food."  I would be interested to know how the Monster Munch that is packed for every trip manages to survive without being reduced to dust!

My favorite episode by far was the one where Karl travelled to Mexico.  Before being allowed to visit the wonder at Chichen Itza, he goes a few rounds with Mexican wrestlers, is invited by cowboys to ride a bull, harvests and eats some wasp larva, and goes on a fruitless search for the elusive Mexican Jumping Bean.  The most hilarious part of the entire series occurs when Karl is given the great honor of eating the worm from a bottle of tequila he's sharing with the cowboys.  After surviving meals of toad, goat eyes, and other disgusting things, the worm nearly does him in!

I really enjoyed watching Karl's experiences as An Idiot Abroad.  Whether you've endured similar culture shock as a traveller, or just want to laugh at Karl's pronouncements on the inexplicable oddities of other countries, you'll get a kick out of this series.  There is some bad language and a bit of nudity, so keep that in mind if you want to watch with younger or sensitive viewers!  Otherwise, prepare for a thoroughly enjoyable time as Karl is wrenched out of his comfort zone, Monster Much and toilet paper in hand!

Disclaimer:  I received a review copy of An Idiot Abroad from BBC.

Final verdict for An Idiot Abroad: Five Gherkins, for allowing us to see the wonders of the world with the ever unenthusiastic Karl Pilkington

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