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October 4, 2015

The five greatest TV travelers

by Annie Wu, posted May 10th 2007 11:37AM
TV travelersWelcome to TV Squad Lists (formerly 'The Five'), a feature where each blogger has a chance to list his or her own rundown of things in television that stand out from the rest, both good and bad.

Just to clear up any potential confusion, this post is not about traveling television sets, nor is it about fictional TV characters who happen to travel. This is a list dedicated to real travelers who have taken us on fantastic journeys in the form of their own television shows.

Michael Palin: I'm not sure how many people expected the Nice Python from the Monty Python troupe to depart from his fish-slapping ways to travel the globe. Palin's charming personality and "aww, shucks" good-guy attitude made all of his adventures tremendously enjoyable. One of my favorite moments from Palin's travels occurred in Himalaya when he sang "The Lumberjack Song" to a very old local gentleman from Bhutan. The man is showing no signs of stopping. His latest travels, called Palin's New Europe, will air later this year.

Dave Attell: I remember when Attell had his own segment on The Daily Show way, way back in the day. I never imagined that he'd eventually have his own travel show. Somehow, he managed to work his wonderful weirdness into three years of Comedy Central's Insomniac with Dave Attell and make late-night, drunken debauchery something surprisingly heartwarming. Attell's adventure to Japan, "Sloshed in Translation," stands out in my mind because I remember finding his encounter with the inventor of useless things to be particularly adorable.

Anthony Bourdain: Sometimes, while learning about the world, you want to feel belittled and a bit intimidated, right? Of course. That's where Bourdain comes in. The so-called "bad boy chef" travels from country to country with a certain air of smarminess that very few people can pull off. I believe the first time I watched Bourdain, he was experimenting with absinthe. What other show would let their host goof around with the ol' green fairy? Right then, I was hooked.

Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman: Fine, that's two people, but consider them as one for right now, okay? Back in 2004, McGregor and Boorman hopped on a couple of motorcycles and traveled from London to New York (underwater motorcycling?!), documenting the whole crazy ride. Honestly, Long Way Round wouldn't have been as enjoyable without McGregor. That is not to say that I'm a fangirl. It was a good show and all, but the real thrill for me was seeing if McGregor would be seriously injured at any point. After all, he's one of Hollywood's pretty boys, and he really can't afford to have his face roughed up by asphalt. Hmm ... Now that I think about it, watching a television show for such a reason is a good sign that I'm going to hell.

Those guys with that old ambulance: A few years ago, I was stuck in bed because of a very bad fever. Instead of being productive and, I don't know, blogging or something, I spent the day with my eyes glued to PBS. Half-delirious, I watched an incredibly interesting show about two guys traveling across the country in an old ambulance, visiting thrift stores and yard sales to hear the stories about various items that people were selling. It was an interesting look into the lives of ordinary Americans, in a very This American Life sort of way. Again, I was suffering from a high fever while watching this, so I couldn't even remember the name of the show. I think it wasn't until I had Googled something like "ambulance thrift store pbs" that I learned that the show was really called Second-Hand Stories with Christopher Wilcha and John Freyer. I'm pretty sure the program was very short-lived, because I haven't seen anything about it for several years. Bring back Second-Hand Stories!

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I LOVED INSOMNIAC THEATER!!... that Dave Attell was the funniest guy... i would stay up just to watch his crazy drunken self... what happened to him?... does anybody know if he has another show?...

May 21 2007 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a Globe Trekkers fan, and I love watching Ian...plus the music from the show is awesome.

May 20 2007 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A few years ago, The Travel Channel had a series called "Travelers". It had a bunch of twenty-somethings named Pierce, Michelle, Foster, Patrick, and a couple more I can't really recall. But the show was great. They went neat places and did the kind of stuff that all of us could do on a vacation. I miss that show. It was one of the best travel shows I can remember, because it wasn't just for the rich or unencumbered folks who could afford it.

May 20 2007 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I haven't heard of half of these people-I must be out of the loop and I love travel shows. I really like Samantha Brown of Travel Channel. Rick Steves has all the info you need, but sorry, he is so boring. I have just discovered Globetrekker and really like it, it is quite different than the other shows. I need to start channel-surfing more I guess to discover some of these people. Anthony I have tried, but just can't stomach...lol.

May 20 2007 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I may be showing my age, but Rudy Maxa gave me many pleasurable half-hours. Ditto Globetrekker.

May 20 2007 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Tony Bourdain and have followed Michael Palin since Around the World in 80 Days, but one celebrity I really enjoyed was Jeromey Plevins (I'm sure I've mispelled his name)

May 20 2007 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

John Ratzenberger - Made in America is also a good one. I like the fact that he is very openminded, and his interest (even if he's really not that interested) in the people and their jobs makes ordinary people feel like TV stars, if only for a few minutes.

Another goodie, although it's not a travel show - Ty and the cast of Extreme Makeovers. They travel everywhere in the US helping people. I'm sure if they had the budget, they could make an international show out of it.

May 20 2007 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, Ian from Globetrekker is a must on any list, he is a universal dude, fits in anywhere, with anyone and is a humble chap.

he should be on the top of the list, alongside palin!

May 12 2007 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about Bear Grylls from Man vs. Wild? I guess it's not so much travel, but you see parts of the wilderness that you normally don't see on travel shows. And, if I ever get stranded in the middle of a lava field in Hawaii or the Rocky Mountains, I have some idea what to do. The guy is just insane.

May 12 2007 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Being from the UK, I have to nominate Alan Whicker who practically invented the genre. Also Clive James has done more of his fair share of nice documentaries over the years.

But Palin will always win this one hands down in my book.

May 11 2007 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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