The five greatest TV travelers
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!