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Palin's Travels
October 4, 2002 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Palin's Travels includes pictures, video, text and audio from Pole To Pole, Around the World in 80 Days, Full Circle (with Sahara, Hemingway Adventure and Great Railway Journey coming soon) - BBC TV series featuring Michael Palin of Monty Python fame wandering around the planet and being puckish and amusing. Great TV, and a great site, particularly if (like me) you're a travel addict. "No bombarding with ads, no spam on toast, just the Palin product, taken apart and put together again, for you to use however you want." [via the always excellent and recently-resurrected wood_s_lot]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (27 comments total)

 
My proudest moment in college was when my frat (go ahead, laugh) won a pie-in-the-face-throwing contest judged by none other than Mr. Michael Palin. He inexplicably felt that the center-snap-though-the-legs, dash-around-for-a-bit before the original snapee got the pie in the face was worthy of recognition, and we won. The prizes - a keg of beer, and a pie in his face. I didn't get to actually apply the pie, but I did get to shake his hand afterwards.

Sorry for the personal note, but hey - it was a biggun.
posted by yhbc at 10:52 PM on October 4, 2002


Anything that keeps him from making movies, I guess.
posted by RavinDave at 11:15 PM on October 4, 2002


Excellent...those were all such wonderful shows. I could watch 'em over and over.
posted by schmedeman at 11:49 PM on October 4, 2002


What's wrong with Jabberwocky all of a sudden?

What a brilliant thing this site is. I especially like that you can see what Palin did the last time he visited a place. And that there aren't pop-up ads every five seconds telling us to buy the books...
posted by feelinglistless at 12:18 AM on October 5, 2002


There's nowt wrong wi' Jabberwocky, lad!!

Now The Missionary is another matter. Fact is the television screen loves Palin but the cinema screen apparently does not. His best-received film performance, as Ken in A Fish Called Wanda is not particularly complex; more of a television character writ large, really.

If you get a chance to see him in Three Men In A Boat, a wonderful BBC production of the Jerome K. Jerome story (originally meant to be a travelogue but which became silly in the writing of it), adapted by Tom Stoppard (!) and directed by Stephen Frears, watch it. Unfortunately it's not available anywhere. I caught it on Bravo years ago.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:20 AM on October 5, 2002


Fact is the television screen loves Palin but the cinema screen apparently does not. His best-received film performance, as Ken in A Fish Called Wanda is not particularly complex; more of a television character writ large, really.

Ahem...
posted by toddshot at 1:55 AM on October 5, 2002


'Lowry. Has anyone seen Lowry?'
posted by feelinglistless at 2:11 AM on October 5, 2002


The trouble I have with Palin's travel shows as well as most other people's travel shows (Billy Connolly is a prime example) is that I am always left with the feeling that they are some smug git on a jolly, when I would quite like to be some smug git getting paid to travel the world. It never seems quite fair!
posted by cohiba at 4:36 AM on October 5, 2002


toddshot: Ahem...

Ahem, indeed. Brazil is a brilliant piece of work, and Palin plays his part of a straight/madman very well. It's too bad the movie got hacked up by the studio, otherwise it might have done better at the box office.

Maybe the travel shows work so well for Palin because he's not part of an ensemble there.
posted by SteveInMaine at 4:39 AM on October 5, 2002


Wonderful links, stavros. I'm especially glad to see that he's produced some books based on the series. I always enjoy reading a more in-depth account about what's going on when the cameras are turned off.

People who prefer their humorous travelogues with an emphasis on cuisine, should check out Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour.
posted by MrBaliHai at 4:42 AM on October 5, 2002


Billy Connolly's got travel shows!? These I want to see...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 AM on October 5, 2002


I'm glad you noticed the Great Railway Journeys he did, partly because it was a truly fine series that's probably too intelligent for today's BBC, and because the earlier one, being quite old, doesn't have the slightly contrived oh-hello-I'm-an-Englishman-abroad-do-we-still-have-an-Empire? of the later travel programmes. You could cope with that in Around the World, becuase, of course, he was emulating a Victorian traveller, but it gets grating in situations where you're not trying to take a Victorian route.

But yes, Great Railway Journeys, a programme that could only be British, because it combines the love of trains with the goggle-eyed amazement that they can travel for more than 700 miles without falling into the sea. And they've made some new ones recently, but the best are the older ones. And most of them were put out on video, but are now deleted. Apart from Palin's latest one, as Palin sells. Which is why the BBC really needs to go into digital distribution in a big way.

Billy Connolly's aren't really travel shows, stavros: they're bits of his tour interspersed with stuff about the places he's travelling through, though some of the Scotland stuff (and the Australian stuff) is pretty watchable. And the on-stage stuff raised the barrier for the ability to say 'fuck' fifteen dozen times at 9:30pm on BBC1. So it can't be too bad.
posted by riviera at 5:16 AM on October 5, 2002


The sad truth, and no one here apparently has the balls to admit this, is that Michael Palin is an extremely limited actor, only as good as the characters he plays. Sure, he's a swell and amicable bloke. You'd have to be a humorless person not to recognize this. (And Gilliam took advantage of that image masterfully, which in addition to the fantstic Stoppard-Gilliam-McKewon script, is why people remember Jack Lint.) He's a fantastic raconteur. The Python gang was very skillful in taking advantage of his clean-cut English gentleman qualities. He's an erudite and goofy writer (see Ripping Yarns, Time Bandits or the Fish Slapping Dance and the Finland Song as qualifiers). But Palin's very limitations and smarts have, ironically enough, made him a very suitable travel documentary host. Fortunately, Palin's content to stick with this role. Aside from American Friends, Palin has been sensible enough to refrain from performances over the past decade.
posted by ed at 5:17 AM on October 5, 2002


great link (and it brought out the envy in me!)...i would sell an organ to do an Around the World in 80 Days!

ed has it exactly right in terms of his appeal i think, too.
posted by amberglow at 5:47 AM on October 5, 2002


No-one remember GBH?
posted by Summer at 6:19 AM on October 5, 2002


Here's Palin on Peter Sellers in the NYT, with a classic Spike story (classic in the sense that you've probably already heard it).
posted by ceiriog at 6:23 AM on October 5, 2002


His funniest scenes were as Pontius Pilate in Life of Brian..

I do like his travel shows, just saw one this morning in fact..
posted by Mossy at 6:59 AM on October 5, 2002


Ian Wright, of Lonely Planet fame, gave a talk at my uni last week. He agreed that he is "the luckiest bastard in the world," and that everyone in the audience should feel free to hate him for it :^)

If you like Michael Palin's travel work, you should check out Ian's, it's a very similar style, only Ian eats more disgusting food.
Beats the tar out of Billy Connelly's travel shows, anyways.
posted by krunk at 7:23 AM on October 5, 2002


I've enjoyed the shows & books and this is a fun complement to the series - love the photo sections. Can't wait to see more on the Sahara trip - the photo of Palin with the Touareg is a good teaser. Thanks for the links, good post!
posted by madamjujujive at 7:27 AM on October 5, 2002


Jesus, ed, what a fucking party pooper. This Michael Palin love fest must be stopped, for the Love of God!

Nobody ever said he was Olivier.
posted by dhartung at 9:17 AM on October 5, 2002


On an awfully related note, Monty Python's Flying Circus premiered 33 years ago today on the BBC.
posted by LinusMines at 9:45 AM on October 5, 2002


great links..

i've been a fan of palin's travel shows for a long time...
posted by PugAchev at 12:04 PM on October 5, 2002


Have any recordings of The Complete and Utter History of Britain been found in the wild? I would love to see any part of this early Palin/Jones series.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:54 PM on October 5, 2002


He goes to too many places with snow, with snakes, and where not enough people speak English. This is generally true for any travel show host and the main reasons I do not envy Palin et al.

Note: I have nothing against people who don't speak English. I even tried to learn Spanish and Hebrew when younger; computer languages were just easier. Just gets me too far out of my comfort zone (same as snow and snakes).
posted by billsaysthis at 3:51 PM on October 5, 2002


These shows never talk about the downsides of traveling like being sick dealing with thieves and just wanting to go home when the awe wears off. Its easy to keep the awe alive for a 2hr show but for 10 months it gets tiresome.
posted by stbalbach at 7:57 PM on October 5, 2002


I hear what you're saying, but I've been doing it nearly nonstop (although, granted, regularly hunkering down somewhere for a year or so) for 15 years now, stbalbach. Tiresome is in the eye of the beholder - for some, seeking out the new and outlandish (see also Filter, Meta) is a compulsion...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:09 PM on October 5, 2002


Can I be a web-mad bore for a second? This site offers a great example of how to use the web... Why? Because of the many ways in which you can navigate his books, focusing on particular people, locations, etc. Very impressive.
posted by ifenn at 8:42 AM on October 16, 2002


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