BBC Video // 2012 // 345 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 26th, 2013
Love, tropical style.
An Idiot Abroad 2 is quite the travelogue. A cross between a wacky comedy, a reality show, and a bizarre character drama, An Idiot Abroad is essentially the opposite of every travel show you've ever seen. Instead of a genial, perky host who shows you around various destinations and cultures, you get a bitter mid-30s grump who's been forced into the role of host, much to the chagrin of his giggling and sometimes sadistic friends. This isn't so much a documentary about traveling abroad as it is a record of cruelty to a man who has no interest in living a fulfilling life.
The idea of An Idiot Abroad is to follow around British everyman Karl Pilkington as he's (sort of) forced to participate in the world around him (this is the same idea as the first season of the hit BBC show). Pilkington spends most of the series being sent to various countries to tick off a 'bucket list' of things most people would want to do before they die. Well, everyone except Pilkington, a sourpuss who spends most of the series sayings things like, "I don't understand why I have to do this" or, "I hate that I'm standing here doing this" or, "I just want to go home." At one point Pilkington is asked to help the needy build homes for the poor and he's actually reluctant because, "There are thousands of these that need to be done -- this is just a drop in the bucket!" Pilkington doesn't always come off as sympathetic character; his active resistance against helping others doesn't always endear him to the viewer.
Always waiting in the wing (and mostly unseen, except for an occasional interview) is The Office creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, each finding infinite amusement in Pilkington's frustration as they send him off to events and activities that would excite a normal traveler. Gervais seems especially giddy about seeing Pilkington suffer greatly; clearly one of the pleasures for viewers is watching their host find himself in what he thinks are dire situations. Along the way we do see some rather fascinating events transpire. In one episode local natives jump from a large wood structure with ropes tied around their ankles into the dirt -- think bungee jumping without the elasticity. It looks painful, a fact that isn't lost on Pilkington. Another episode finds Pilkington coming face to face with a homeowner who allows enormous hippopotamuses to wander into her home and to be fed from the kitchen counter. It's one of the rare moments when Pilkington looks genuinely amazed by what he's seeing.
How much of Pilkington's disdain and annoyance is real or just an act is up for debate; it's hard to imagine the guy has that rough of a life being paid to go on vacation, learn new things, and be seen on a popular television program by millions of viewers. Pilkington gets to hang out with a family of mountain gorillas and shows as much excitement as a man who just found a missing sock under his couch cushions. Or maybe Pilkington really is just one big wet blanket. There are moments when I understand his disdain; while chasing down mammoth elephants with a guide, he's asked to stick his finger into some elephant poop and taste it ("It tastes sweet!"). I'm not sure whose bucket list that is on. Maybe it's best no one asked.
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, each episode looks very good for standard DVD. The show appears to have been processed on video and sometimes looks a little fuzzy, under lit, or out of focus. The bulk of the show, however, retains a natural look with bright colors and dark black levels. Overall, this reality show looks very good on DVD. The soundtracks are each presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. The audio mix is good with some directional effects present during music cues and in a few of Pilkington's expeditions. Mostly this is a very front heavy track that also features optional English subtitles.
Supplements include seven deleted scenes, a kind of music video of Pilkington singing the song "No Pleasing You", and Pilkington's appearance on Price Drop TV ("Pilko's Pump Pants").
A fun little diversion for Ricky Gervais fans, and those who've wondered what
it's like to taste elephant feces.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 345 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes