Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Karl Pilkington's Seven Wonders Of The World

Or as he discovered half way through filming the series "An Idiot Abroad". For those not in the know Karl was a radio producer who worked behind the scenes with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant however he came to dominate their airtime. The podcasts they produced were subsequently animated and broadcast on television.

The premise is that Karl is a moron with both Ricky and Stephen laughing at his ignorance and the misconceptions he has. In "An Idiot Abroad" Ricky thinks it will be funny to send him off to see the (modern) wonders of the world well seven of them anyway they didn't do the Colosseum in Rome.

Each episode has Karl being sent off and then finding that Stephen or Ricky have set him up/stitched him up with some unrelated event that they think will enlighten him/be funny before finally arriving at the wonder.

This is not a standard travel documentary nor some achingly hip Rough Guide. This is not some quest to broaden one's mind by partaking in local customs and experiencing a whole new culture. This is one man being somewhere he doesn't want to be, being made to do things he doesn't want to do; and it's enthralling.

I'm not sure what it says about me, but in the situations Karl's placed in I would have reacted in the same way for most of them. I don't need some voice on a guide tape telling me to stand and admire the beauty of Petra or Chichen Itza. If it's beautiful I'm going to realise that - don't tell me I'm supposed to be awed by this; I either am or I'm not. It would do my head in too.

The best review is perhaps the one that gets quoted in episode 8 when Karl, Ricky, and Stephen meet up to recap his travels. From the Guardian this is a "ball-achingly dull series" and I can see how that conclusion is drawn. If one watches this expected a standard travel documentary showing fantastic vistas, friendly locals that you can interact with (but only to the degree you're comfortable with) and acting as a tourist advert for the country; then yes this isn't for you. If you want something a little more real without the pretension or moral overlay - watch this.