When I originally watched the first season of Idiot Abroad and reviewed it I decided I would put off my review of the second season until I had a chance to read Karl’s accompanying book. It took a long time for me to get my hands on the book but I’ve since read it and now feel I’ve completely experienced season 2.
Anyone tuning in to Idiot Abroad Season 2 will be familiar with it immediately. The first season featured Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant sending Karl Pilkington around the world to visit the “Seven Wonders” and experience different cultures. Ricky did this specifically to annoy Karl and put him in situations he’d hate. The second season featured even MORE of this concept. For season 2 they sent him around the world so he could cross things off the “bucket list,” or things to do before you die.
Immediately Karl was confused (in fact he’s had this confusion before) by thinking that it was things to do RIGHT before you died (his quote was “If I was on me death bed, I wouldn’t want to be climbin’ Mt. Kilimanjaro.”) But after discovering what was actually intended he agrees and goes around the world again.
Karl tries to pick things off a list of 100 choices that seem the least awful to him. Among these are: Spend the night on a desert island, drive Route 66, go whale watching, swim with dolphins, and travel the Trans-Siberian Express. Of course Ricky and Stephen crop up throughout the show to send Karl on unexpected adventures and even change the rules. Even Karl says, “Nothing has been what I thought it would be.’ Of course this was to be expected, but even I was surprised with what they’d make Karl do. From swimming with sharks rather than dolphins (Karl puts it when comparing sharks to dolphins, “It’s the most dangerous thing on the planet to the nicest. Harmless. Armless.”) to seeing whales from the deck of a fishing boat…after chopping bait and nearly being sick.
Side adventures include: Meeting up with ladyboys in Thailand, Sumo wrestling in Japan, visiting the Dwarf Village in China, having some Russian Cosmonaut training, and participating in Glee in America.
Favorite moments for me:
1.) ANYTHING to do with bungee jumping: Possibly the best runner in the history of the show, Ricky and Stephen continually try to get Karl to do bungee jumping. Anything related to it, from his first “experience” in New Zealand, to a “land dive” in Vanuatu, to a bungee ambush in South Africa, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did during these sections.
2.) The Cuddle Party in America: Imagine either Statler or Waldorf at a party where everyone gets together for a hug. Karl is one of the world’s least-snuggly person. And there he is in a room with dozens of people who just want to cuddle. To quote him, “How long does this go on for…”
3.) Trying the Dish that Started Sushi: It looked like the worst food in the world. Even the chef who gave it to him didn’t look like he wanted to be near it. It’s not a spoiler to announce that Karl ended up sick in a Japanese garden…
This season also has the most moving moment in the history of the show. While climbing Mt. Fuji Karl admits that he never finishes much in life. He never really completed school; he hasn’t gotten married. In his words, “Unless it’s a packet of biscuits I don’t finish it.” So he really put everything into climbing Mt. Fuji. To reaching the top just so he could say it’s something he completed. It’s extra impressive to see someone who is known as a complainer and pessimist giving his all to do something he really wants to. He also wanted to invent something new, something he achieved during his travels in Japan! His last thoughts on climbing Mt. Fuji are not only very Karl, but also what just about anyone would say.
As a bonus, here is the invention Karl created during his climb up Mt. Fuji, the Pilko-Pump-Pant. Ricky and Stephen mock it…but as a person who sits in the floor a lot I can see the benefits of owning a pair!
Next post is a review of Karl’s companion book to Season 2, The Further Adventures of an Idiot Abroad.
Extra bonus, the full video of Karl selling his pants on TV!