It’s a pretty clever, and refreshingly original, idea for a reality TV series: Send two resourceful guys on a trip around the world, with the only rule being that each time they use a mode of transportation other than walking, it has to be something different. Pick two guys to star who don’t know each other and have had very different life experiences, just to provide some tension, and title the show with a pun on a Jules Verne novel, and you’ve got something fun to watch.
I refer to History Channel’s Around the World in 80 Ways, which just aired its second episode this past Sunday. The show stars “Boston” Rob Mariano, best known for his four appearances and recent win on Survivor and two appearances on The Amazing Race, and Dennis Anderson, creator and driver of the “Grave Digger” monster truck. The two couldn’t be much more different from one-another: Mariano has traveled to dozens of exotic places, while Anderson had never been out of the United States until the show began filming; Mariano is in his mid-thirties and of roughly average build, while Anderson is 50 and (while not that unfit, as far as I can tell) a really large man. And they’d never met before.
The two set off on their around-the-world trip, restricted to only 80 different modes of transportation, and committed to never repeating one — walking excluded, of course. The first episode of the show wasn’t that great, since Mariano and Anderson didn’t yet have any chemistry and they, reasonably, started out by using some of the more obvious means of transport: jet, tow truck, and motor bike, for examples (though also zipline, which is definitely not obvious). The second episode had them start to liven things up by racing each other to get to different places and using more novel means, including ostriches pulling horse buggies and window-washing scaffolding (they started the episode on the top of a 35-story building, you see). As they eliminate more and more methods of getting from one place to another, it’s bound to get even more interesting.
And that’s where the geekiness comes in. The later episodes have yet to air, of course, but Mariano and Anderson told me that they got pretty innovative, creating their own vehicles from the materials they were able to scrounge. Considering that they’re going to a lot of really remote places, it should be a lot of fun watching them exercise their creativity and resourcefulness to get themselves closer to their destination. Even the not-especially-geeky parts, which is what it’s mostly been so far, are fun to watch, though — and don’t worry about coming in at the second (repeated this week) or third (airing Sunday) episode. You’ll pick it right up, I’m sure.
Around the World in 80 Ways airs Sundays at 10pm ET/9pm CT on History Channel.