Karl Pilkington’s seven wonders of the world


Partner and I recently watched a Science Channel series called “An Idiot Abroad.” In it, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their “friend” Karl Pilkington abroad to see the Seven Wonders of the World. He does travel commentary, and he endures Ricky and Stephen’s stupid long-distance practical jokes: they book him into bad hotels, they make him eat terrible food, they send him on interminable camel rides, etc., just to watch him twitch and be uncomfortable.



First of all, Karl is not a genius, but he is by no means the “idiot” of the title. He may be a Little Englander and a twit, but frankly, it is not much fun watching someone suffer in a garbage-filled noisy hotel room.



Which leads me to the observation that Ricky Gervais is an immense jerk. I never much cared for him before this, but now I know for sure that the annoying-nimrod character he plays in “The Office” and his other productions is just an extension of his real personality. Listening to him whinny and wheeze with helpless laughter as he mocks Karl is almost unbearable. (Stephen Merchant seems less of a toxic personality, but if he’s abetting Ricky in this, he needs to spend a few weeks in purgatory too.)



You may be wondering why we kept watching the show, if it’s so terrible.



We kept watching because Karl is very endearing.



Karl is frank and clear-minded. He is unimpressed by antiquity for its own sake. (When shown a picture of the Pyramids, he says that his local city council would have the things torn down.) He gets tired when he’s travelling, and he gets sick of novelty. He is occasionally rude, but then again, he’s being thrown into some peculiar situations; only a saint can be good all the time.



And there are many scenes of splendor:


  • Karl floating in the Dead Sea enjoying himself, until he finds someone’s used Band-Aid in his belly button.

  • Karl unimpressed by the Christ of Corcovado, which he compares to a pylon.

  • Karl (quite correctly) pointing out the pollution in China and the garbage in Egypt.

  • Karl in Petra, remarking that living in a palace may not be great, but living across the street from a palace is terrific, because – well, you wake up every morning and look out the window and you see a palace!

  • Karl finding that the laid-back attitude of the people in Mexico is actually very appealing.

  • Karl, wide-eyed, being given a neck-cracking massage by an insane-looking Chinese man.



They’re talking about a follow-up series. I know what I’d like to see: Karl chasing Ricky Gervais around an enclosed space with a two-by-four, slapping him around and making him really whinny and wheeze.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: