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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Season Four of No Reservations is where I think the show really started to pick up steam on the entertainment side of the house. Whereas the show used to revolve simply around Tony going to various locations and eating food, this is where the Travel Channel really started figuring out that Anthony Bourdain is probably their biggest star asset.

If you're a food show purist, you will probably be a little annoyed with the increased frequency of the "Tony, go hurt yourself," skits in the various locations. Season Four includes the zip lining and cave diving bits as well as the Greek shipwreck party and the night out at Kilauea. The entire episode focusing on Anthony going back into the kitchen at Les Halles will probably irk you too as there is little to no actual food tasting being done.

If you're a Bourdain fan, this will most likely be one of your favorite seasons; probably because of the Les Halles episode (and lets be honest, Eric Ripert makes everything better). This season is a very introspective one and it seems like Tony's really taking the time to figure himself out during the course of the season. You see a lot less of the old "A Cook's Tour" and "No Reservations: seasons 1 and 2" Bourdain - the smoking, drinking, swearing version of Tony. Yes, he still swears a lot, but as he made his transition into fatherhood, the mantle of responsibility was almost palatable (no pun intended). This led to some great personal moments in the Uruguay episode with his brother Chris, trying to reconnect with their family's history. Serious items aside, there's the great Southwest road trip episode with Alice Cooper and the always entertaining Ted Nugent.

If you're a foodie, there is so much to drool over in this season. There is a cavalcade of culinary giants showing up in these episodes: the before mentioned Eric Ripert, Masaharu Morimoto (Your Iron Chef!), Marco Pierre White, and he finally buries the hatchet with Emeril Lagasse. The entire episode on Spain is nothing but pure, unadulterated food porn. As always, Tony's love of Japan really shows through every time he visits the country, and this time is no different.

One of the things that makes No Reservations such a great show to watch is the fact that you're not just sitting there watching Tony eat multi-hundred dollar meals, but instead he's getting down at street level, attempting to eat what the locals eat. If you're lucky enough to have Tony visit an area or country where you grew up in an episode, you come away thinking that he has somehow managed to truly capture a little bit of your hometown. Now imagine that he's doing that for each and every location that he visits and you get an inkling of why this show is so great.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Bourdain isn't slowing down much; his latest shows are still some of the best travel/food tv out there. He remains one of the sharpest observers in that genre, and isn't afraid to raise a hackle or three. He does seem to be getting a bit caught up in his own legend, so it's good to see him cooking at his old haunt Les Halles---more in that vein would be nice, as it's entertaining to see him working in the kitchen instead of just oohing and aahing at others doing the same. The Jamaica, Colombia and Egypt epsiodes are also stand-outs of those featured here; Tony seems at his best when most out of his element.

I'd really like to see a show where all of the tv food guys have to cook for each other and every one was honest about what they ate. I wonder where Bourdain would rank?

His enthusiasm for the rituals around food and the people making it are usually the best thing about this show, in any case; his genius is more in his friendly irascibility and dry directness than culinary expertise. And mothers must love this guy: he always eats all the liver on his plate...and whatever other entrails cross his path. But nothing here beats him eating the roasted anus in Season 2.

Let's face it: Bourdain will only fulfill his destiny once he has done a show with a tribe of Amazonian cannibals (the jungle's, not the ones on this site). He'll take a big chunk out of somebody's thigh and say, "It's a tough piece of meat, but with enough seasoning and giblet gravy," he says, looking straight at the camera, "it's actually pretty [bleeep!] tasty."

And we'll believe him.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2009
I've been a pretty big fan of Bourdain's food-centric travelogues since Food Network debuted the A Cook's Tour show and the accompanying book (A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines). From his auto-bio/expose on the restaurant business (Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)), to his unrestricted palette of taste, through to his no nonsense style of writing food inspired crime fiction, Bourdain has cut an interesting niche in the foodie world. With No Reservations, he's left behind the insanity of the Food Network and taken his travels in search of good food and culture to the Travel Channel.

What I find interesting about No Reservations is the balance he's seemingly struck between his own tendencies and the requirements of filming a network driven travel show. On A Cook's tour it came across as butting heads with the network and producers resulting in a lackluster second season filled with excursions to ridiculous destinations like the Mall of America, content that felt forced and sad. No Reservations, though occasionally still succumbing to these depths, frees Bourdain up to getting to the heart of the matter which is examining true local culture and the food that sustains and elevates it. It combines the point of view of a 70s punk rebel with a soul searching existentialist, while also ditching most of the pretension and being generally entertaining TV which is pretty darn rare.

In this fourth collection, Bourdain and crew have finally managed to find a sweet spot in the balance between network needs and a thoughtful beat poet's look at the world. The first three seasons are good, but season four is amazing. The narrative of these episodes cuts right into the truth of the various locals whether it's pretty or not, in particular the New Orleans, Jamaica, Columbia, and Saudi Arabia episodes spring to mind. In this post Katrina world the last thing I expected was a vision of Nola that was heartbreaking and raw. I expected an upbeat perspective to permeate the visit, rife with narration describing the unconquered spirit of the people and cameras that captured only the rebuilt and thriving. Though this was a part of the episode, as that is present, it's a whisper compared to the depressing reality, a truth that doesn't get as much discussion.

Most of the content that would be considered gimmicky in this season is regulated to and filtered into great content. A contest for Anthony to come to someone's town or country could have been difficult and embarrising to watch, and instead it becomes a door into Saudi Arabian life that most Americans never considered. A trip back to the kitchen at Les Halles featuring Bourdain working a double shift after almost a decade away from the hurly burly could have been done for one big high-five, "I've still got it" moment, and it's not. It's sad and honest ending with the exclamation that working the line is a young man's game. This isn't Bourdain's the Natural, it's his the Wrestler.

If you're looking for the insanity of A Cook's Tour (the swallowing of still beating cobra hearts, etc.) than you might be a bit disappointed (though armadillo, camel, and desert lizard are all happily consumed) but if the first thought when entering a new city or country is locating a good genuine meal that speaks to the local culture than this is the show for you. It's not a how-to for finding the tourist traps of the world, but a how to avoid these and eat like a local.

There are currently 3 other seasons available: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations - Collection 1,Anthony Bourdain - No Reservations Collection 2, and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations - Collection 3.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I'm a long-time fan of "No Reservations" (the other show I love is Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern), and though this fourth season has its share of hits and misses, I still found much to enjoy. Bourdain's unique way of immersing himself in the culture of each country he visits - sampling the culinary delights, gaining insights into the traditions of a particular culture, and the interesting history of each place make this a truly enlightening and engaging viewing experience. I may never travel to all these countries but at least I'm able to enjoy my "armchair" traveling, courtesy of "No Reservations".

Of all the episodes here, the weakest was the feature on Romania. Tony is with his Russian buddy, Zamir, and the show seemed so kitschy. I mean, they visited Dracula's Castle, then stayed the night at this horrible hotel that had a dinner theater, with Tony and his friend dressing up for Halloween - just awful. There was a lack of exploration of authentic Romanian cuisine and I felt the producers did a poor job of depicting the country and its culture.

I loved the feature on Singapore as I am originally from Singapore and I felt the show aptly portrayed Singaporeans' love for food. The gastronomic delights of this tiny island nation was well-represented, though there is so much more to be explored (could have done without the visit to that hospital-themed restaurant though). I was also impressed at the episode featuring Laos - this poor and ravaged nation is usually ignored and consigned to obscurity, but Tony presents it in all its natural beauty and sad history.

Another interesting episode was the one that had viewers participating in a contest where the winner would be Tony's guide to a particular destination. Of all people, a feisty lady from Saudi Arabia won, and this proved to be an illuminating episode on certain aspects of Saudi culture. I particularly enjoyed Tony and his guide's visit to the Saudi version of a fast-food restaurant serving chicken, "Albaik" (kind of like a KFC) which Tony seemed to genuinely enjoy!

The other countries covered here include Berlin, Vancouver, Greek Islands, New Orleans (another highlight), London/Edinburgh (I enjoyed the interview with famed chef Marco Pierre White), Jamaica, Hawaii, Colombia, Uruguay, the Southwest, Tokyo, Spain, Egypt, and Washington D.C. Fans of "No Reservations" will find this to be an eclectic mix with some duds, but there is also much to savor in this collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon November 17, 2011
Collection 4 of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations contains one of the series all-time great episodes. The "Into The Fire" episode finds Mr. Bourdain going back to Les Halles to see if he can still cut it in the restaurant game. This time he is no longer the man in charge, but a line cook. You get a great glimpse into how a restaurant really works and anyone who thinks that it is a glamorous life will be shown how it is a grueling, pain inducing test that pushes one's limits each and every day. The Hawaii episode is another standout where Mr. Bourdain buys a $3,500. authentic Hawaiian shirt, eats Spam & Puka Dogs, visits a guy who still defiantly lives near an active volcano despite most of the area being destroyed and enjoys a luau. The New Orleans episode is poignant as Mr. Bourdain tries to show the resilient spirit of the city and comes to truce and understanding with someone he had taken many shots at over the years, Emril Lagasse. The US Southwest episode is heavy on the snark with stops at Alice Cooper's restaurant where he warily eats a Big Unit hot dog and spends time shooting things with Ted Nugent. The Uruguay episode is bittersweet for Mr. Bourdain as he and his brother Chris try to find out some family history and aren't as successful as they would like to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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Compared to the other seasons, this one I have to say, had my thumb pressing the fast forward button on some episodes. Less interviewing chit chat and more walky while you talky to a food vendor! As the previous reviewer has commented- food purists may be a little annoyed.
But I do have to say, that Spain is the best out of the lot!...oh yeah... and anything with pork crackling which does come up a few times!
With Spain... Please DO THAT PLACE AGAIN!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
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I use these videos for my classes. When we are visiting one of the countries he has visited I put it on at the end as a wrap up. Just to let you know it's a high school class.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
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My special interest was the Anthony Bourdain visit to Hawaii..Brought back such wonderful memories! I have purchased additional copies for souvenirs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2013
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Loved his show when on A&E, now another chance to enjoy his shows now that he is off the air
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on April 8, 2010
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I have been a fan of Anthony Bourdain and have the whole series. I can't understand why the editors choose to insert cuts into the narrative which were obviously put there to allow for commercials during television airing. The other three series do not have this problem. Other than this annoying quirk, the series is great and very informative. Unlike other travel food shows, Bourdain shows respect for each of the places he visits and is non judgemental for the most part avoiding the imposition of western bias.
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