Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour

Having declared April to be the month of documentaries, its now incumbent on me to prove it. Prove it I will with one grand suggestion:

"Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour" is a 4 episode miniseries from 2009 that is one of the most delightful and appealing viewing experiences I have ever had. For starters McCloud is the bomb. Charming, sweet, intelligent and personable -- he is a treasure.

Being American, of course I had never heard of him before -- surely one of the things that sucks about being American. And, being in America, it also seems I also must resign myself to have little else that he has "done" available to me. I have to assume he is fairly famous elsewhere -- my brilliant deduction from the fact that his name precedes that of the film -- but in the states we're too busy paying attention to Kim Kardashian to notice talents such as Kevin McCloud.

In any case, the good news is this documentary at least is freely available on Netflix which is how I stumbled across it.

This documentary idea, whosever it was, was an excellent one -- retracing the route that the great British high class youth would have taken on their "grand tour" of Europe when they came of age. Not just the route, but the experience and its full flavor is depicted in sumptuous detail.

The photography is stunning and the program is valuable at its most basic as a travel guide. But it is so much more than that.  McCloud's forte seems to be architecture, and he applies his tremendous charm and skill to the topic. We learn about the roots of city planning as well as why they went, where they went, what they saw and what they (likely) did, what they brought back, and what it all meant. And if that doesn't somehow sound engaging then I am not doing my job right.

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