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A Travel Guide More Befitting of the Times
on March 25, 2012
With the newest iteration of Anthony Bourdain's creative energy, "The Layover", comes a more caffeinated, frenetic, ADD travel television experience then its predecessor, "No Reservations".
"The Layover" places viewers alongside Tony as he tackles major "layover" hubs in as little as 24-48 hour time windows. This format dictates the show in every way. Gone are the obscure destinations of "No Reservations" (because who has a 48-hour layover in Kazakhstan?). Gone are the long leisurely lunches with a local family in a villa on the outskirts of Firenze (there's no time!)
In the new format, we follow Tony from the airport, and into cities like Hong Kong, Rome, New York, Miami- or some other big booming metropolis. In these urban playgrounds of food and drink, Tony fills the camera with an intense and hilariously entertaining television experience- ones more befitting tequila shots than sips of Cabernet.
Each episode includes Tony reading excerpts from a prototypical "travel guide", which includes advice like, "when in Hong Kong in the heart of summer, the travel guide would encourage one to be sure to walk in the shade so as to avoid the powerful sun."
Tony's reactions to stale travel advice such as this is in many ways the thesis of "The Layover"- this is a new type of travel guide, one more befitting the way people (and particular the audience that watches Tony's shows) travel today.
The new-age travel guide that is "The Layover" is a multi-media platform (which offers complementary blog posts, Twitter feed, Facebook page, and television programming). This new, media-rich platform is visually pleasing, real, practical, fun, irreverent, originally-curated, frenetic, and fast-paced like the travel preferences of so many people, and particularly of hard-working, young people around the world. Not everyone has the time or money for a two-week trip to the Italian countryside. But a weekend in Miami? Much more doable.
In this new format, Tony's behavior on the "The Layover", different from the quality of his show, has degenerated below even the lowest levels it reaches on "No Reservations", but in a wholly appropriate and entertaining way.
In Miami, for example, the show concludes with a Tony Montana-like scene, with Tony Bourdain slamming a bottle of Champagne in the scant light of dawn, dressed in a white hotel bathrobe, as he stares from his hotel room's balcony, out and over the city he has just blustered through like the Blitzkrieg.
Isn't such behavior easier to justify during a layover, clouded as they are in a haze of jet lag? In a place where you never really get your bearings straight, and are likely to never run into the people you encounter there more than once? In such a setting, Tony seems to be saying: why not let yourself go? It's an intense burst of time that certainly allows for a more irreverent tone. Tony's drinking and blustering is a little more digestible, nay welcomed, when you realize he is just in town for a brief jaunt, and that it never at any point becomes disrespectful.
As a viewer, what makes this show all the more pleasing is you get to experience all the joys of a layover, with none the accompanying headaches. Delayed flights, diarrhea, bad meals, grouchy cab drivers- all these nightmares stay off screen. Meanwhile we get to drive with Tony through bright, big-city lights and past beach boardwalks and girls in bikinis. We sit in on marathon nights of drinking, and meals full of endless plates of rich foods. All this, without stopping for a nap or to sit on a toilet. No jet lag. No nausea. Tony fights with that for us- with the cameras securely turned off. We just get to party and travel, and wish we had the life of Tony.