T.V. Wild Travel Trek More Wild than Trek

Destination: World Wide

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TV Show: Next Stop for Charlie: A Wild Trek Across the Globe

GUEST POST by Jane Louise Boursaw

The fact that it’s on Showtime should have been a tip-off for me, but no, I sat down to screen Next Stop For Charlie with my 13-year-old daughter. I don’t know … the description made it sound like a fun, fictional travelogue about a guy who’s chasing his cousin around the globe. Well, sort of.

In the first five minutes of Episode 3: Thailand, we had bloody testicles, drugs and more drugs, graphic language, a medicated dart in someone’s neck, a poker game gone horribly wrong, a knife fight, possible human trafficking, mean-looking guys with tattoos, and a naked woman with a strap-on. Yeah, I hit “stop” before we got five seconds into the testicles, and ended up watching the episode much later after my daughter went to bed.

Ok, so we’ve determined it’s not for kids, but does that mean it’s not wildly entertaining? You be the judge. The show is based on the Mandt Bros. 2007 indie film Next Stop For Paul, in which friends Charlie and Cliff travel to Thailand to scatter the ashes of their recently deceased friend Paul.

The story strays a bit in Next Stop for Charlie, which finds Eric (Erik Adolphson) quitting college and cavorting around the globe with an unlimited credit card. Here’s where Charlie (Neil Mandt) comes in. He’s Eric’s cousin, and he’s hired by Eric’s mom to track down his wayward cousin and bring him home.

In each episode, Charlie manages to find Eric – and lose him again – all the while immersing himself in the local culture. Each episode is named for the country visited, including Colombia, Belgium, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Morocco and Turkey. There ARE some great settings for travel savvy people, but the graphic sex and nudity are too distracting.  The exotic settings seem more incidental to the other stuff

The half-hour comedy is made on a shoestring budget, between $7,000 and $15,000 per episode, using only two mini HD cameras and wireless microphones, and a crew of three people – the aforementioned Neil Mandt and Erik Adolphson, along with one cameraman. Sometimes they’ll enlist a stranger off the street as an extra camera operator.

Also of note is that the show is totally improvised. The location of each episode is based on whatever cultural festivals are taking place in that particular country, and notes Mandt in a press release, “We step off the plane with no dialogue, no scenes, no idea what locations we’ll have access to in each country.” It’s also shot randomly, so scenes are created on the fly with only an evolving sense of how each will fit into the final episode.

In the Thailand episode I mentioned earlier, the crew went to jail for a day after filming inside a tiger cage. They just kept shooting and wove it all into the episode.

Will I watch it again? Probably not. Even though it’s inventive and creative, there’s a little too much drugs and sex and nudity for this girl. Maybe specializing in family entertainment has narrowed the boundaries of what I will and won’t watch, and that’s ok with me.

Next Stop For Charlie airs Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET on Showtime.

Jane Boursaw, Film Gecko reviewer

Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies, TV and celebrities. Visit her at Film Gecko and Reel Life With Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email jboursaw@charter.net. Learn how to syndicate her family movie and TV reviews in your publication.

Well, darn! And this looks like the perfect show for travelers! Jane, thanks for your unvarnished reaction to the show. Did your daughter complain about not getting to see it?

One blogger says, “What I think would be infinitely more interesting than this 10 part series is a documentary on how the hell these people accomplished this feat and the inevitable travel mishaps they went through.” You can read his mostly favorable review at Landlopers.

Readers, have you seen Next Stop for Charlie? Do you have an alternative view? Share this post with someone you think might enjoy it.

4 thoughts on “T.V. Wild Travel Trek More Wild than Trek

  1. As an avid international traveler, I love this show. I have seen people make exactly the same mistakes Charlie does in various countries.All in all, quite funny. I have been to most of the countries featured and lived and worked in several of them. Highly recommend it. Not your typical boring PBS travel show.

  2. Sounds like although it’s a little off color, I’d probably like to watch it for it’s rawness. So is it like Jackass goes to Thailand?

  3. Sorry. Can’t help you much on this one…we don’t watch TV! By and large though, I rarely appreciate how popular media depict other countries and cultures. Thank you for sharing though. -r

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