An Idiot Abroad

How can cultural elitists like ourselves put TV in the Culture category? Well, where the hell else is it going to fit?
nutria
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An Idiot Abroad

Postby nutria » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:52 am

So, a few factors have conspired to keep me relatively homebound this winter, and I've spent a good chunk of that time finding stuff to watch on Netflix (which has been surprisingly awesome, BTW). One show it suggested to me and I tried out, having never heard of it, is the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant/Karl Pilkington show An Idiot Abroad.

Wow.

It's more or less a satire on travel shows: one of the implicit assumptions about the traveler/narrator is that they are excited to be wherever they are visiting, and more generally an upbeat, happy person. Karl is a thoroughly miserable bastard who has elevated complaining to a high art form. In the first season, which ms. nutria and I just finished up, they send him to each of the modern seven wonders of the world. A few quick hits:

On China: "What's the line between snack and insect? She goes home tonight, sees a spider in the tub...what does she do?"

Mexico: "It's like you're all daring each other to do something stupid."

So, so good, particularly if you like very uncomfortable (and very British) humor.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby rabble » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:01 am

nutria wrote:On China: "What's the line between snack and insect? She goes home tonight, sees a spider in the tub...what does she do?"

I have no idea but this question brings to mind a Chinese movie I watched one rainy day about two very young girls whose lose their parents and endure hardships as they search for their mother and find their grandparents, poor but not starving with a roof over their heads. The two of them are coming back from the village, feeling safe for the first time in many weeks, and passing a grassy field with birds and flowers, the little one yells "Lets catch some grasshoppers and grill!" and the older one puts down the wicker cage they're carrying and the two of them start running around the field, laughing and dancing and putting grasshoppers into the cage and the credits started rolling.

It was so pretty.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:02 pm

nutria wrote:On China: "What's the line between snack and insect? She goes home tonight, sees a spider in the tub...what does she do?"

Karl: What if I get to China, have a toad or something, really take a liking to it, then get home and can't find any?
Ricky: So you're worried about trying and liking a new food and then not being able to get it back in England? That's a reason you don't want to go?
Karl: Yeah ...
Ricky: That is mental!

I happen to love the show but you might get mad, seeing this guy visit all these places you'd like to go and complaining all the time. I like it for the few moments were Karl genuinely DOES have a good time.

Nutria, do you think Karl is real or a character? There's a great debate on that point.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby john_titor » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:50 pm

I too saw a few episodes on Netflix. The Ricky being mean thing seems forced, but at the same time it seems Karl is in on the joke. I suspect they pay him well.

I enjoyed the first two, but then it seemed a bit repetitive and I haven't gone back in a while.

nutria
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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby nutria » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:37 am

green union terrace chair wrote:Nutria, do you think Karl is real or a character? There's a great debate on that point.


Interesting question. I've never actually heard their radio show, so the only context I have is An Idiot Abroad. In the last episode, where the three of them are talking about the trips Karl has taken, Stephan makes an offhand comment about this and states that he's definitely not a character. Googling around it seems like he's genuine, but has become more self-aware and has played it up a bit more in the last few years. I'm not familiar enough with him to see if/when he's broken character, so that seems plausible enough to me.

I dunno, what do you think?

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:12 pm

nutria wrote:
green union terrace chair wrote:Nutria, do you think Karl is real or a character? There's a great debate on that point.


Interesting question. I've never actually heard their radio show, so the only context I have is An Idiot Abroad. In the last episode, where the three of them are talking about the trips Karl has taken, Stephan makes an offhand comment about this and states that he's definitely not a character. Googling around it seems like he's genuine, but has become more self-aware and has played it up a bit more in the last few years. I'm not familiar enough with him to see if/when he's broken character, so that seems plausible enough to me.

I dunno, what do you think?

I listened to their podcast way back when, and as far as I can recall, Karl is exactly the same. So either he has an incredible lock on this "character" and has been able to maintain it, or it really is him. I think I'm with you in that he's playing himself but has started to milk it a bit.

I think Ricky puts it best that Karl is a "Little Britainer," who is comfortable in England and anything outside the borders (or London, even), is weird and suspect. Now it's very natural for a traveler to compare what they're visiting to home, but for Karl EVERYTHING is greeted with suspicion and "why are they doing that??"

I maintain that viewers will find it either hilarious or maddening.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby john_titor » Tue Sep 09, 2014 5:14 pm

The third season is now on Netflix. I am not sure what I think. I think I am ok with the concept, but I am not sure if it is the editing or the scripting that seems off. One image that repeatedly comes to mind is Karl pedaling the bike with Warwick in the basket up front. I have not finished the season, so maybe it changes.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby Huckleby » Tue Sep 09, 2014 5:43 pm

I really loved this series. The third season was certainly less funny, but it had its moments.

Karl did a second travel show without Ricky as puppet master, "The Moaning of Life." They're just as good as "Idiot."

I confess, I got addicted to the Karl character. I went back and watched all of the Ricky Gervais Show cartoons. Loved them.

I'm burnt out on Karl Pilkington now, finally. Karl seems a little tired of Karl too, I wonder if he'll retire from show biz, such as it was.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby green union terrace chair » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:02 pm

He's in Ricky Gervais' Netflix series "Derek," now in its second season. He plays a Karl-like character who is somewhat not Karl.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby Huckleby » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:35 pm

green union terrace chair wrote:He's in Ricky Gervais' Netflix series "Derek," now in its second season. He plays a Karl-like character who is somewhat not Karl.


Karl quit the second season, he doesn't want to act.
I thought a couple episodes of first season were good. The second year is unwatchable, IMO. Overall very disappointing. But people are very divided, some love the show.

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Re: An Idiot Abroad

Postby Huckleby » Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:16 am

http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/the-mo ... n-has-ever

Here are some Karlisms there I found amusing:

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