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Monday, March 14, 2011

Karl, An Idiot Abroad, Finally Comes Home

     Eight weeks after it started, the Science Channel's An Idiot Abroad has come to an end. Karl Pilkington has come home, and in the final episode, he sits down with his chums and the show's producers, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, to discuss his travels and what, if anything, he learned.

     I think I like this episode at least as much, if not better than, the seven where Karl is shown traveling the world. I am a big fan of The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO, based on their podcasts, and I enjoy the three men sitting in a room and having a chat. In the final episode, we see some new footage of Karl, not too many clips already seen before, and mainly lots of talk between the guys. It may sound boring on paper, but it is actually where the three of them are strongest.

     I think my favorite bit of new footage from when Karl was abroad is when Ricky breaks it to Karl that the show will be titled An Idiot Abroad. The announcement comes as Karl is approaching the Seventh Wonder, tired and cranky from his journeys. Up until now Karl has labored under the impression that the series would be called Karl Pilkington's Seven Wonders. I have a sneaking suspicion this was never the intention, but used simply to help sell Karl on the idea. He does not react well, as you might expect, but obviously he was later overruled. A good business choice, if nothing else.

     We also saw Karl briefly visit his old vacation spot in Wales during the finale. He comments that perhaps he is ruined, now looking for a native tribe, rather than just a pool, when he takes a holiday. I find this statement a bit odd, considering just how miserable Karl appeared for most of his visits. Perhaps, it retrospect, he realizes just what a valuable experience he has had.

     Can we look forward to a second season? If Ricky gets his way, then yes. The theme of the first season is Karl visiting the Seven Wonders of the World. But he usually spends a small portion of the episode at the Wonder, and the rest of the hour he is getting culturally immersed. This can be done anywhere. I don't even think a theme is needed. Just pick seven more countries and send Karl. He says during his final trip that he will refuse a second season, but his comments in Wales leave open a possibility of one.

     Karl is a generally good sport. Ricky and Steve mention that they have been accused of bullying him, but Karl just shrugs it off. Sure, he gets frustrated after the horrid conditions he is repeatedly put in, but he does the entire show. I can see him doing more, if the trips are more spaced out. Also, it might help if he goes into things knowing the score, whereas in this first season, it seems like a lot of what Karl experiences was sprung on him as a surprise.

     Whether the show continues or not, they have delivered eight very entertaining hours. If you missed it, look for the reruns on the Science Channel. Well worth a watch.

Article first published as TV Review: An Idiot Abroad - "Karl Comes Home" on Blogcritics.

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