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TV review: An Idiot Abroad 3's "tepid amusement"
An Idiot Abroad 3's Ricky Gervais, Warwick Davis and Karl Pilkington. Image: Sky
An Idiot Abroad 3, Sky1's hugely popular comedy travelogue, sees eponymous idiot Karl Pilkington joined by renowned dwarf actor Warwick Davies. This time, the journey retraces the steps of famous explorer Marco Polo.
Only a few moments stood out: the sincere look of anger from Karl as he struggled to make a water-powered jet-pack work, and the disgruntlement of Warwick in the presence of gypsies who couldn't resist touching his head for good luck.
The first half was conspicuously laugh-free, thanks to the odd decision to try and elicit laughs from simply having Karl and Warwick dress in funny costumes for a masquerade ball in Venice. Hilarity didn't ensue.
The first series of An Idiot Abroad had novelty on its side, bolstered by widespread interest in seeing cult hero Karl Pilkington encounter foreigners and strange cultural traditions first-hand.
But it still only really managed two completely entertaining episodes (the trips to China and Egypt).
"The most overrated TV series of the past few years."
The Bucket List sequel was more activity orientated, with Karl sent to do random things many people wish they could do before they die.
However, the signs of fatigue were clearer to see - and it didn't help that Karl refused to do a great many of the stunts.
This third series attempts to revitalise the concept by partnering Karl with Warwick Davis (Star Wars, Willow), whose diminutive height instantly lends the series more visual comedy (he was introduced sat in the basket of a bicycle like E.T),
But I still found myself struggling to appreciate what's arguably the most overrated TV series of the past few years.
The issues I have with An Idiot Abroad are actually very simple; it all boils down to watching an adult moan about being given amazing experiences, and Karl's brand of derisive humour born - out of naivety and inexperience - gets harder to buy into.
His shtick is getting old, to put it mildly.
Besides, he's no longer a true innocent after two series spent travelling around the globe doing so many incredible things.
Did you enjoy An Idiot Abroad 3?
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- 74 %Yes - it was very funny
- No - it's overrated
Warwick Davis and An Idiot Abroad 3
The decision to add Warwick has definite merit because Karl's at his best when he's bouncing off other people (as fans of the podcast he does with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant will agree), but unfortunately Warwick isn't as witty as those showbiz pals.
Warwick consequently came across as a misfire; failing to provoke Karl's facetiousness to greater heights while actually coming across as crabbier at times. Why was he so against being lifted into the air by helium balloons?
As premieres go, this wasn't a very promising start to the three-part series.
The first half was spent entirely in Venice doing very little of interest, while the more interesting second half still didn't deliver enough big laughs.
Karl had the occasional funny comment and dry analogy to make, but many of his quips felt recycled or predictable. He really needs someone to cajole and challenge his way of thinking.
That person sadly isn't Warwick Davis, who tended to orbit Karl with the look of a man half-suspecting this job's a strange consolation prize for Life's Too Short being such a comparative flop.
Ardent fans of Karl's idiot savant wittiness will likely convince themselves this was pure comedy gold. For everyone else, it was an hour of tedium interrupted by tepid amusement.
- Verdict: An Idiot Abroad 3 travels much the same road.
What people on Twitter said
@lukedixon - "An idiot abroad was a little disapointing last night, pilko still pulled out a few crackers."
@AndreaJoph - "Been catching up with #idiotabroad Is brilliant, good to have KP back on telly box 'he looks like a little Adam Ant' Much laughs."
@garethmclearnon - "Watched #idiotabroad on Sky+ last night. Not even a half smile... *delete & un-link series record*"
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