Michael Palin Reviews

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The Michael Palin Collection (New Europe / Around the World in 80 Days / Sahara / Hemingway Adventure / Great Railway Journeys / Himalaya / Pole to Pole / Full Circle)

Review Michael Palin Collection, The (DVD)

Michael Palin ex-Python turned intrepid explorer has explored nearly every inch of our extraordinary world. Michael and his team have embarked on many audacious journeys and none have gone off 100% as planned, each came with new hurdles and dilemmas. In his friendly, humorous and charming way, Michael has brought viewers unique cultures and rich, deep histories from some of the least explored regions of the world. Now all his adventures are together in one complete collection. Travel the world with Michael Palin!

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Brazil with Michael Palin (DVD)

Review Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days (DVD)

Monty Python comedian/writer Michael Palin takes up the famous challenge: to travel around the world in only 80 days. Air travel is forbidden, and wherever possible he uses the same routes and transport as Jules Verne's fictional hero, Phileas Fogg, meeting many interesting characters en route. As he races across continents and against the clock, Michael's charm and ingenuity delights the armchair traveler.

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Brazil with Michael Palin (Blu-ray)

Review Michael Palin started another career in the late 1980s: explorer. The former Python brings humor, humanity, and class to the genre of filmed travelogues with Around the World in 80 Days, his first and best journey. The genesis of this BBC series is a sly side-bet: can someone travel via 19th-century means around the world in 80 days like Jules Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg did in 1872? As Palin travels around London asking experts about world travel, it seems to be a 50/50 chance at best. The reliance on air travel makes shipping schedules very tentative, and in some ways just slowing down may be a hardship for a 20th-century traveler. As Palin notes, air travel is about viewing airports; no one really "travels" anymore.

Armed with his inflatable globe, Palin starts off by train across Europe before problems arise: missed connections, labor strikes, language difficulties, and the like. But Palin is adorable company to have for the seven-part, six-hour series. He manages the impossible, always making us believe we are in the moment, even though some scenes had to be shot to accommodate the camera (he enters a taxi alone, the next scene we are with him in the cab). Palin is light on his feet, with quick humorous jabs, which comes in handy as his schedule is always on the brink of disaster. He offers round remarks on the countries he visits and often has amusing side trips: garbage man in Venice, bit actor in India, and cook aboard a freighter.

The highlight is the third episode, set almost entirely on a dhow slowly moving from Arabia to India. Here Palin is introduced to a life slowed down to its basics with a crew of mostly non-English speakers. The segment is so distinct the producers asked--and were granted--permission to add an additional episode instead of cutting most of the dhow footage.

Although Palin continued his adventures (Pole to Pole, Full Circle), nothing is as nimble or kinetic--there is a ticking clock element--as this first voyage. His entourage or Passepartout--Fogg's righthand man--grew with each voyage. There were usually two to four production folks with him on 80 Days, but they are rarely seen. The end result is the best travel "slide show" anchored by one of world's most amusing men. For couch potato and traveler alike, this is compelling viewing. --Doug Thomas


Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988--1998 (Michael Palin Diaries)

Review Michael Palin: Full Circle (1997) DVD

British actor and comedian Michael Palin takes you along on an entertaining journey around the Pacific Rim, traveling by boat, train, plane and helicopter. Meet the Eskimos of the island of Diomede in the Bering Strait. Depart in one of their skin boats for Alaska's mainland, then voyage on to view Russia's westernmost wonders. Visit Japan's legendary Kodo Drummers, a Zen Buddhist temple, and as a contrast, downtown Tokyo. Your itinerary includes the mysteries of China's holiest mountain, a nap in Mao's bed in the Governor's Castle, plus journeys to Vietnam, the perilous Sula Seas, Australia, South America, Mexico and finally full circle back to Alaska. Titles are: "Alaska and Russia," "Japan and Korea," "China," "Vietnam and the Philippines," "Borneo and Indonesia," "Australia and New Zealand," "Chile," "Bolivia and Peru," "Peru and Colombia," and "Mexico and the USA."

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Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days

Review Brazil with Michael Palin (DVD)

You'll be astounded by the fifth largest country in the world, from the lost world of Amazonia, to the buzzing cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo-a megacity of 30 million, where the super rich commute by helicopter. Meet remote tribes who pit their survival skills against gold diggers and loggers. Dance with witches. Watch the new World Cup stadium rise in Brasilia. In the entertaining company of your good-humored host, you'll delight in the spectacular landscape, food, music, beach life and unique cultural heritage of this rising global power.

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The West

Review Michael Palin: Hemingway Adventure (1999) with Great Railway Journeys DVD

HEMINGWAY ADVENTURE Michael Palin attempts to put himself into Hemingway's world - to try to find out what it might have been like, if it ever existed, if it still exists and how it's changed. He visits many of the places Hemingway loved, including the USA, Cuba, Kenya, Uganda, France and Spain. Great Railway Journeys CONFESSIONS OF A TRAIN SPOTTER In his first televised travel adventure, Michael Palin travels from Euston Station in London, to Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland, and passes along routes steeped in rail history. DERRY TO KERRY Palin's second Great Railway Journey takes him from the ancient walled city of Londonderry to the most western tip of Ireland.

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Wild China [Blu-ray]

Review Michael Palin: New Europe (DVD)

Join Michael Palin on his new adventure, through a Europe reborn - countries to the east of the continent, full of unexpected and forgotten delights... Michael starts his journey high in the Julian Alps on the border between Slovenia and Italy, where the Iron Curtain once ran. Travelling through the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Baltic States, he explores countries which may be newly formed but have rich and deep histories. In Poland, unknown to the paying commuters, Michael drives the 8.58am steam locomotive from Poznan to Wolsztyn. He joins the gathering of the 'White Brotherhood' in Bulgaria, finds out how to wrestle a camel in Turkey and discovers, in Estonia, exactly what it takes to walk across hot coals. By road, rail, river, sailboat and donkey through some of Eastern Europe's most mouth-watering locations, from Albania in the south to Latvia in the north, Michael meets new Europe's movers and shakers.

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Human Planet (2010)

Review With so much media and popular attention focused on the nations and cultures of Western Europe, it's easy to forget that much of Europe is relatively new to the western world: new to democracy, new nations with new governments, finding ways to create their new cultures and a sense of national identity in the aftermath of post-Soviet life. World traveler Michael Palin, having ventured all over the world, smartly chooses Eastern Europe as the destination for this BBC special, to see, now that the iron curtain has been pulled aside, what life there is really like. Like his previous adventures, such as Pole to Pole and Around the Rim, Palin's endless fascination and infectious sense of curiosity in the places he visits and people he meets, is what really makes the show tick. Whether he's exploring the remarkable Turkish community of Göreme, where rocks have been carved to form homes, or boating down a river in Romania to visit the ancestral home of Vlad the Impaler (the home of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula), Palin finds a way to keep the discoveries coming. Traveling through 20 countries as diverse as Turkey and Russia can be taxing, even on a well-traveled celebrity, but with his natural-born wit he keeps the program light enough to be entertaining (a few laughs help to leaven the sometimes dreary reality of certain locales), and succeeds in shining a new light into parts of the world long obscured by a shroud of darkness. --Daniel Vancini
Around the World in 80 Days

Review Michael Palin: Pole to Pole (DVD)

Michael's journey along the 30-degree east line of longitude encompasses 17 countries and both hemispheres -- from Greenland in the north to Kenya, South Africa and Chile in the south. Along the way communism collapses, apartheid ends, and a civil war is sparked as Michael meets Santa Claus and Lenin, goes shopping for camels in Omdurman and makes a final hectic dash to the South Pole.

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Story of India

Review Michael Palin, star of Monty Python's Flying Circus and A Fish Called Wanda, is in a comic race against time to get from the North Pole to the South Pole. Palin balks at nothing, tries just about anything, and always finds time for a spot of tea. En route Palin stars in a crayfish documentary in Novgorod, attends a baby-rolling ceremony at a Cypriot wedding, gets stuck in a Nile traffic jam, buys chicken in Wadi Halfa, goes camel shopping in Khartoum, and is prescribed tree bark by a Mpulugu witch doctor to get rid of his evil shadow. Even when things go according to plan, Palin travels in unusual ways--by dogsled on Spitsbergen, barge down the Dnieper, train roof across the Nubian desert, van through the Sudan, hot-air balloon over Kenya, and down Lake Tanganyika on the "African Queen." With curiosity, courage, and his standard aplomb, Palin plunges himself into the local cultures, beating himself with birch branches in a Finnish sauna and wallowing in mud in an Odessa sanatorium. Reminiscent of his Around the World in 80 Days, Palin once again brings some of the world's most inaccessible cities right into your home. An armchair traveler's delight, this collectors' edition of Pole to Pole is ideal for anyone interested in the funny world we live in. --Tara Chace
The Fourth Protocol

Review Hot on the heels of his adventures in the Sahara, Michael Palin takes on the abode of snow and begins a 2000-mile journey across this mighty and majestic region of Asia. Encountering extremes of wealth and poverty, altitude and freezing cold, he once again brings his unique wit, charm and wisdom to each of 6 episodes. Along the way he encounters, among many others, the Dalai Lama, the Bhutanese Royal Family and the once feared head hunting tribe of the Konyak. While on his travels he passes through Afghanistan, across India to the feared Death Zone near the base of Mount Everest and then onto the Bhutanese capital before arriving in the Bay of Bengal.
Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days

Review Michael Palin has yet to grow tired of tromping around the planet on behalf of the BBC--or so he says in a special, pre-departure introduction to his always gratifying, sometimes thrilling Michael Palin: Himalaya. He makes a point of acknowledging that he is, and feels, considerably older than during the making of his first, exotic travelogue, 1989's Around the World In 80 Days with Michael Palin. (Palin has made three other globe-tripping series between Around the World and Himalaya.) But despite his age (61 at the time of Himalaya's production), Palin remains enthusiastic about experiencing people and cultures new to him. Moreover, despite Himalaya's itinerary through conflict-riddled border nations in the shadow of that fantastic mountain range, Palin confesses to enjoying travels through countries "with a bit of an edge."

So be it. Working for the fifth time with co-director Roger Mills and several other key crew members, Palin launches the series in Pakistan. There he rides the handsome Khyber rail, visits a dentist with an extremely slow drill (shudder), discovers Pakistan's love affair with guns, and takes in the almost mythic spectacle of bull-racing. Episode 2, "A Passage to India," begins at an altitude of 14,000 feet, bypassing K-2 to watch a fascinating and, happily, peaceful manifestation of historic hostilities between Pakistan and India. Specifically, Palin enjoys a day-long contest of ceremonial drills between Indian and Pakistani soldiers, literally set on either side of a white borderline between nations. The host also visits a fantastic temple for India's 20 million Sikhs, and finds vestiges everywhere of Britain's former colonial rule.

Later episodes find Palin in war-torn Kashmir (India and Pakistan vie for control), where he discovers a houseboat where Ravi Shankar taught sitar to George Harrison. Palin also gains an audience with the Dalai Lama, who recognizes the Monty Python star and laughs through most of the interview. Other series highlights include unnerving signs of recent violence in Nepal (where insurgent Maoists battle the king's army, the latter reinforced by British officers); settling into base camp at Mt. Everest; travels through Tibet (where China's forced modernization awkwardly co-exists with Tibetan antiquities); taking in devoutly Buddhist and environmentally progressive Bhutan; finally ending in a compelling excursion through Bangladesh. Special features include deleted scenes, very much worth the time to extend Palin's travels. --Tom Keogh


Michael Palin - Pole to Pole

Review Michael Palin Collection, The (DVD)

Michael Palin ex-Python turned intrepid explorer has explored nearly every inch of our extraordinary world. Michael and his team have embarked on many audacious journeys and none have gone off 100% as planned, each came with new hurdles and dilemmas. In his friendly, humorous and charming way, Michael has brought viewers unique cultures and rich, deep histories from some of the least explored regions of the world. Now all his adventures are together in one complete collection. Travel the world with Michael Palin!

]]>
Michael Palin: Full Circle

Review Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days (DVD)

Monty Python comedian/writer Michael Palin takes up the famous challenge: to travel around the world in only 80 days. Air travel is forbidden, and wherever possible he uses the same routes and transport as Jules Verne's fictional hero, Phileas Fogg, meeting many interesting characters en route. As he races across continents and against the clock, Michael's charm and ingenuity delights the armchair traveler.

]]>
Michael Palin: Hemingway Adventure / Great Railway Journeys

Review Michael Palin started another career in the late 1980s: explorer. The former Python brings humor, humanity, and class to the genre of filmed travelogues with Around the World in 80 Days, his first and best journey. The genesis of this BBC series is a sly side-bet: can someone travel via 19th-century means around the world in 80 days like Jules Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg did in 1872? As Palin travels around London asking experts about world travel, it seems to be a 50/50 chance at best. The reliance on air travel makes shipping schedules very tentative, and in some ways just slowing down may be a hardship for a 20th-century traveler. As Palin notes, air travel is about viewing airports; no one really "travels" anymore.

Armed with his inflatable globe, Palin starts off by train across Europe before problems arise: missed connections, labor strikes, language difficulties, and the like. But Palin is adorable company to have for the seven-part, six-hour series. He manages the impossible, always making us believe we are in the moment, even though some scenes had to be shot to accommodate the camera (he enters a taxi alone, the next scene we are with him in the cab). Palin is light on his feet, with quick humorous jabs, which comes in handy as his schedule is always on the brink of disaster. He offers round remarks on the countries he visits and often has amusing side trips: garbage man in Venice, bit actor in India, and cook aboard a freighter.

The highlight is the third episode, set almost entirely on a dhow slowly moving from Arabia to India. Here Palin is introduced to a life slowed down to its basics with a crew of mostly non-English speakers. The segment is so distinct the producers asked--and were granted--permission to add an additional episode instead of cutting most of the dhow footage.

Although Palin continued his adventures (Pole to Pole, Full Circle), nothing is as nimble or kinetic--there is a ticking clock element--as this first voyage. His entourage or Passepartout--Fogg's righthand man--grew with each voyage. There were usually two to four production folks with him on 80 Days, but they are rarely seen. The end result is the best travel "slide show" anchored by one of world's most amusing men. For couch potato and traveler alike, this is compelling viewing. --Doug Thomas


Michael Palin - New Europe

Review Michael Palin: Full Circle (1997) DVD

British actor and comedian Michael Palin takes you along on an entertaining journey around the Pacific Rim, traveling by boat, train, plane and helicopter. Meet the Eskimos of the island of Diomede in the Bering Strait. Depart in one of their skin boats for Alaska's mainland, then voyage on to view Russia's westernmost wonders. Visit Japan's legendary Kodo Drummers, a Zen Buddhist temple, and as a contrast, downtown Tokyo. Your itinerary includes the mysteries of China's holiest mountain, a nap in Mao's bed in the Governor's Castle, plus journeys to Vietnam, the perilous Sula Seas, Australia, South America, Mexico and finally full circle back to Alaska. Titles are: "Alaska and Russia," "Japan and Korea," "China," "Vietnam and the Philippines," "Borneo and Indonesia," "Australia and New Zealand," "Chile," "Bolivia and Peru," "Peru and Colombia," and "Mexico and the USA."

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Michael Palin - Sahara

Review Brazil with Michael Palin (DVD)

You'll be astounded by the fifth largest country in the world, from the lost world of Amazonia, to the buzzing cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo-a megacity of 30 million, where the super rich commute by helicopter. Meet remote tribes who pit their survival skills against gold diggers and loggers. Dance with witches. Watch the new World Cup stadium rise in Brasilia. In the entertaining company of your good-humored host, you'll delight in the spectacular landscape, food, music, beach life and unique cultural heritage of this rising global power.

]]>
Brazil with Michael Palin (DVD)

Review Michael Palin: Hemingway Adventure (1999) with Great Railway Journeys DVD

HEMINGWAY ADVENTURE Michael Palin attempts to put himself into Hemingway's world - to try to find out what it might have been like, if it ever existed, if it still exists and how it's changed. He visits many of the places Hemingway loved, including the USA, Cuba, Kenya, Uganda, France and Spain. Great Railway Journeys CONFESSIONS OF A TRAIN SPOTTER In his first televised travel adventure, Michael Palin travels from Euston Station in London, to Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland, and passes along routes steeped in rail history. DERRY TO KERRY Palin's second Great Railway Journey takes him from the ancient walled city of Londonderry to the most western tip of Ireland.

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The Michael Palin Collection (New Europe / Around the World in 80 Days / Sahara / Hemingway Adventure / Great Railway Journeys / Himalaya / Pole to Pole / Full Circle)

Review Michael Palin: New Europe (DVD)

Join Michael Palin on his new adventure, through a Europe reborn - countries to the east of the continent, full of unexpected and forgotten delights... Michael starts his journey high in the Julian Alps on the border between Slovenia and Italy, where the Iron Curtain once ran. Travelling through the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Baltic States, he explores countries which may be newly formed but have rich and deep histories. In Poland, unknown to the paying commuters, Michael drives the 8.58am steam locomotive from Poznan to Wolsztyn. He joins the gathering of the 'White Brotherhood' in Bulgaria, finds out how to wrestle a camel in Turkey and discovers, in Estonia, exactly what it takes to walk across hot coals. By road, rail, river, sailboat and donkey through some of Eastern Europe's most mouth-watering locations, from Albania in the south to Latvia in the north, Michael meets new Europe's movers and shakers.

]]>
Around the World in 80 Days (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Review With so much media and popular attention focused on the nations and cultures of Western Europe, it's easy to forget that much of Europe is relatively new to the western world: new to democracy, new nations with new governments, finding ways to create their new cultures and a sense of national identity in the aftermath of post-Soviet life. World traveler Michael Palin, having ventured all over the world, smartly chooses Eastern Europe as the destination for this BBC special, to see, now that the iron curtain has been pulled aside, what life there is really like. Like his previous adventures, such as Pole to Pole and Around the Rim, Palin's endless fascination and infectious sense of curiosity in the places he visits and people he meets, is what really makes the show tick. Whether he's exploring the remarkable Turkish community of Göreme, where rocks have been carved to form homes, or boating down a river in Romania to visit the ancestral home of Vlad the Impaler (the home of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula), Palin finds a way to keep the discoveries coming. Traveling through 20 countries as diverse as Turkey and Russia can be taxing, even on a well-traveled celebrity, but with his natural-born wit he keeps the program light enough to be entertaining (a few laughs help to leaven the sometimes dreary reality of certain locales), and succeeds in shining a new light into parts of the world long obscured by a shroud of darkness. --Daniel Vancini

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