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Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days (DVD)
Monty Python comedian/writer Michael Palin takes up the famous challenge: to travel around the world in only 80 days. Air travel is forbidden, and wherever possible he uses the same routes and transport as Jules Verne's fictional hero, Phileas Fogg, meeting many interesting characters en route. As he races across continents and against the clock, Michael's charm and ingenuity delights the armchair traveler.]]>
Michael Palin started another career in the late 1980s: explorer. The former Python brings humor, humanity, and class to the genre of filmed travelogues with Around the World in 80 Days, his first and best journey. The genesis of this BBC series is a sly side-bet: can someone travel via 19th-century means around the world in 80 days like Jules Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg did in 1872? As Palin travels around London asking experts about world travel, it seems to be a 50/50 chance at best. The reliance on air travel makes shipping schedules very tentative, and in some ways just slowing down may be a hardship for a 20th-century traveler. As Palin notes, air travel is about viewing airports; no one really "travels" anymore.
Armed with his inflatable globe, Palin starts off by train across Europe before problems arise: missed connections, labor strikes, language difficulties, and the like. But Palin is adorable company to have for the seven-part, six-hour series. He manages the impossible, always making us believe we are in the moment, even though some scenes had to be shot to accommodate the camera (he enters a taxi alone, the next scene we are with him in the cab). Palin is light on his feet, with quick humorous jabs, which comes in handy as his schedule is always on the brink of disaster. He offers round remarks on the countries he visits and often has amusing side trips: garbage man in Venice, bit actor in India, and cook aboard a freighter.
The highlight is the third episode, set almost entirely on a dhow slowly moving from Arabia to India. Here Palin is introduced to a life slowed down to its basics with a crew of mostly non-English speakers. The segment is so distinct the producers asked--and were granted--permission to add an additional episode instead of cutting most of the dhow footage.
Although Palin continued his adventures (Pole to Pole, Full Circle), nothing is as nimble or kinetic--there is a ticking clock element--as this first voyage. His entourage or Passepartout--Fogg's righthand man--grew with each voyage. There were usually two to four production folks with him on 80 Days, but they are rarely seen. The end result is the best travel "slide show" anchored by one of world's most amusing men. For couch potato and traveler alike, this is compelling viewing. --Doug Thomas
Excellent series following Michael Palin's attempt to circumnavigate the globe in under 80 days. His witty narration and fascinating insights to the locations visited, make this... Read morePublished 6 months ago by JB
Entertaining and educational. Great look at other cultures.Published 6 months ago by Barbara A. Heusel
Michael Palin's first travel video --- filled with his quirky humor and easy going pace. He does it so you do not have to! Read morePublished 8 months ago by Steven N. Gosney
Absolutely love Michael Palin's travel videos - have 4 of them now - beautiful photography/video plus his unique sense of humor and interaction with local people.Published 10 months ago by RESpec
I highly recommend this DVD to anybody thinking about buying it.
Michael Palin in 1989 decided to chronicle a journey Around the World in 80 days - as Phileas Fogg did... Read more
I watched this show years ago and thought it was excellent. My opinion has not changed.Published 10 months ago by Larry L.