There’s a minor disagreement in the Fox house. I think Anthony Bourdain’s show on CNN,
“No Reservations,” “Parts Unknown,” is close to amazing. That is not a unanimous opinion.
Masterfully written. Nicely shot. He goes places I dream of, but know I’ll never see.
Tonight’s show is paused. He’s in Congo.
Helaine’s opinion of Bourdain is exactly opposite mine.
The show has Anthony traveling the world, marveling at local (often rudimentary) cuisine. It is the ultimate armchair travelogue. He flies in rickety third world airplanes, travels rivers in rickety boats, drives over rutted and potholed roads while eating food prepared with minimal consideration of hygiene.
There’s no doubt this is Anthony’s show. He will often address the camera directly. Lots of ‘me roll.’
Back to the writing. It’s the most important element in televised storytelling.
Guys like Bourdain and Alton Brown understand how to write prose which will be spoken. Bourdain’s script is crafted in his spoken voice. The narration is embedded deep within the fabric of the story–no less a player than the photography itself.
I’d like to think I write like that. Maybe not. I try.
The word is CNN will air more documentary type shows, like Bourdain’s, in 2014. From Deadline.com:
“The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts,” Zucker said in a recent interview about “massive changes” he’s got planned for the network, adding that he wants CNN to attract “viewers who are watching places like Discovery and History and Nat Geo and A&E.”
That’s good new and bad news. Among the bad, every hour of doc programming is an hour less of news. CNN is already news challenged too many hours of the day.
The good news is shows like Bourdain’s are worthwhile endeavors. We know so little of the world around us.