"I started out admiring him, then feeling sorry for him, and now I'm even more convinced that he is someone special." -- Michael Palin

TV Much as a continue to love Michael Palin's travelogues, one feature has never been the same since that first series Around The World In Eighty Days. I've tried many times and failed to put into words why these later series don't quite have that special quality. Now Ian Jones at Off The Telly perfectly captures my misgivings:
"Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Sahara and Himalaya are all journeys for the sake of it, uninhibited by time, and far more sporadic. As enjoyable as they are, each episode fails to pick up where the previous one left off. Viewers are still continually reminded what day it is, but such distinctions become irrelevant. We're supposed to think the fact it's "Day 59" carries weight. In truth it means nothing, and actually clutters rather than clarifies what's going on. The journeys are always mildly interesting notions in and of themselves, but somehow not the real deal, and nowhere near as compulsive an idea for a TV programme as one so beautifully simple and complete that it can be summed up by, yes, a simulated one-sided phone call."
Plus, for various reasons the new series are not filmed in one continuous filming block. They're done in sections, so that day 59 is the 59th day of shooting rather than 59 days in the Sahara, something which isn't always made explicit. For someone who likes to see the cracks this can be frustrating.

But we still love him and everything he does.

See also this great essay by Palin about his interest in Vilhelm Hammershoi, written at about the time his documentary about the painter was broadcast.

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