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October 2, 2011
An Idiot Abroad Blu-Ray Review
TV Air Date Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
2010 (UK)18/8/2011Village RoadshowTBC
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby Digital 2.0MA15+Karl Pilkington

A couple of months ago I started to watch An Idiot Abroad on OneHD and was pretty much hooked on the series with some guy, who I wasn't familiar with, visiting a variety of locations around the globe and providing his insight. I didn't see the whole series though so when this Blu-Ray set turned up I was keen to check it out.

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This is Karl Pilkington, the Idiot Abroad.
In An Idiot Abroad Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their friend Karl Pilkington around the world...against his will. Karl thinks he’s visiting the Seven Wonders but along the way the Little Englander must endure camel rides, jungle treks, tribal customs and local oddballs while dining on toads and testicles! How does a man who prefers a caravan holiday in Wales cope with being an idiot abroad?

This first series of An Idiot Abroad (yes, there is a second one now airing in the UK), contained 8 episodes in total, one for each of the wonders in the world, and an eighth episode in which Karl discusses various moments in the series. The episodes include...

  • "China" where Karl struggles with Chinese life and food, open toilets, and then travels the entire length of the Great Wall.
  • "India" which sees Karl visiting a religious festival, visiting the religious 'Babas' and finally visiting the Taj Mahal.
  • "Jordan" where Karl swims in the Dead Sea, rides a camel to breaking point (his, not the camel), eats a special meal including testicles and visits Petra.
  • "Mexico" includes a visit to Chechen Itza but before that he visits a dangerous fireworks festival, tries his hand at wrestling and visits some real cowboys.
  • "Egypt" sees Karl visiting the Great Pyramids but also getting swarmed in a market and then visiting a KFC run entirely by deaf people.
  • "Brazil" has Karl visiting the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer but also performing in the streets and living in a shared hotel room.
  • "Peru" is his last stop around the globe where Karl visits the Inca site known as Machu Picchu.
  • "Karl Comes Home" is a wrap up episode where Karl discusses his trips with Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant.

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Ricky Gervais sends his friend Karl around the world.
There really are some great comments from Karl during the episodes including the fact that the Great Wall of China goes on for miles - but then again so does the M6! The toilets in China have been well built, but have no toilet paper, and why is it that toilet roll holders you buy in the UK have "Made in China", but they don't use them in that country, he doesn't like museums back home so why would one in Egypt be any different. Visiting a KFC where all the employees are deaf is an experience, especially because he doesn't go in there for a chat, just the food!

An Idiot Abroad isn't for everyone. It's like a travel diary, but exactly how you wouldn't travel the world - actually if you did you'd probably experience a lot more. My only real annoyance through the series was actually Ricky Gervais' laugh which is irritating to say the least, but that's only a few moments here and there and shouldn't stop you watching this series.

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An Idiot Abroad has a decent Blu-Ray transfer.
An Idiot Abroad is presented on Blu-Ray in the TV Series' original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which fills your HDTV. The video has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and is presented in 1920 x 1080i resolution. The fact that the image is interlaced is somewhat disappointing as it does have some visual artifacts as a result however this is the same resolution that the series aired on TV.

It must be said that the actual video quality is very good with fine detail, plenty of colour, and with a bitrate that often sits around, and often well above, 30Mbps there is plenty of room for the image .

The Blu-Ray for An Idiot Abroad only contains a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192kbps. This is quite a disappointing effort in a day and age when we expect 5.1 surround sound, let alone lossless audio. Still this is very much a dialogue driven TV experience with Karl talking through the episodes and offering insight into the various locations he visits. The episodes have some light ambient music, but for the most part this is just the audio recorded on location.

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Visiting the pyramids.
There are no other audio tracks on this disc and only a single English subtitle track which is accurate to the dialogue and audio through the episodes.

There's isn't a great deal of extra content on this 2-disc set which is a shame as we can imagine there would be a tonne of deleted content from each of the episodes.

The Preview Show (22:47/HD): Running for over 20 minutes this is like an extended trailer for the series with Karl, Ricky and Stephen talking about the experience with some more interviews and previews of where he ends up around the world. It's worth a watch, but probably not until after you watch the series as it gives away some of the best bits.

What Karl Packed For India (2:20/HD): Karl discusses his concerns with bowel movements in India, and packing special nappies and a bucket. Amusing.

Karl and the Man With Many Accents (1:27/HD): Karl meets a many with accents from different parts of England.

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Karl poses like Princess Diana!
Karl Meets Jesus (3:34/HD): Karl meets a man who believes he is Jesus Christ.

Karl Snorkeling (1:31/HD): A brief clip with Karl snorkeling, or at least talking about how he hates it with the dangerous fish.

Photo Gallery (3:15): The second disc also contains a photo gallery (move down to the Photo of Karl and select it). The images are presented in SD, and through a video sequence, but there are some nice images here.

An Idiot Abroad certainly isn't for everyone, and we're sure there's a lot more set up then we are led to believe, however there are some wonderful, and often very amusing, moments in this series, and well as some classic commenty from Karl. It's a solid Blu-Ray presentation that fans of the series would do well to pick up.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.