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An Idiot Abroad - Season 1 Review




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Rating
Video:   9/10
Audio:   8/10
Extras:   2/10

Idiot? Maybe 'Sheltered Upbringing' is better
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
1/31/2012

    In this hilarious series Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, co-creators of The Office and Extras, send their friend Karl Pilkington (The Ricky Gervais Show) around the world...against his will! Karl thinks he’s visiting the "Seven Wonders" but along the way the “Little Englander” must endure camel rides, jungle treks, tribal customs and local oddballs while dining on toads and testicles... and searching for a clean bathroom. How does a man who prefers vacationing via camper cope with being an idiot abroad?
I first heard about An Idiot Abroad from Ricky Gervais while he was giving a speech at the Banff TV Festival a few summers ago. I hadn't heard the podcast he does with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, but a few friends told me it was hilarious, and that Karl has... unconventional views on many things. I was intrigued by the thought of watching this odd character travel around the world, and... well... Ricky told me to watch it, so I would.

This 2-disc set includes all 8 episodes from the first season of the show:

Disc 1 (2:52:48)
China (43:28)
India (43:16)
Jordan (42:57)
Mexico (43:07)

Disc 2 (2:54:04)
Egypt (43:02)
Brazil (42:50)
Peru (44:19)
Karl Goes Home (43:53)

Video

Though they shot the series in HD, we only have a DVD release in North America (Britain received a BD release as well). I was really impressed with the picture quality of this Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer. There were only a few scenes containing noise in the picture, and all of them occurred in night shots. There's a "play all" on the discs, but BBC fails to put a chapter after the opening credit again (this frustrates me).

Audio

I thought the English stereo track on this release was excellent, and suited to the material. I like when the audio specs match the content, and anything higher than a stereo track would be overkill for a travel documentary. I found the dialog easy to understand, and when it's not they toss up burned-in subtitles. There are also optional English subtitles you can turn on.

Extras - How we rate extras

Preview Show (22:48)
Though I watched this after finishing the series, I found it quite entertaining.

Other Stuff (13:51)
Found on disc 2, this "other stuff" is a bunch of deleted scenes.
What Karl packed for India (2:20)
Karl and the man with many accents (1:27)
Karl meet Jesus (3:34)
Karl Snorkelling (1:32)
Karl on Cacti (0:55)
Karl gets picked up (1:37)
Karl on body beautiful (1:04)
Karl plays connect 4 (1:22)

Summary

I have a friend that is constantly asking me questions about things that most people could consider to be common sense. She grew up without TV (I know, the HORROR!!), and had immigrant parents, so her exposure to life was very different than what I experienced. It doesn't make her stupid, and I'm glad she asks me when she doesn't know something (she once told me she feels comfortable asking me because I don't make fun of her). I think Karl is a bit like my friend; he's not an idiot, he just has missed out on so many things. Of course that wouldn't make for a very good title, would it? I enjoyed his uncensored views on things, though I was surprised he didn't completely lose it when he discovered what he ate in Egypt. I was gagging on the couch watching that!

I've been to places featured in 3 of the episodes, and it was a blast watching Karl experience them. An Idiot Abroad may not be in the same league as a Michael Palin travel show, but I still found it extremely interesting. It also made me want to listen to the Gervais/Merchant/Pilkington podcast to hear Karl's thoughts on other subjects. I also can't wait for season 2 to be released.


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