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An Idiot Abroad

Seasons: 3
Episodes: 21
User ratings: 27,758
Average rating: 8.3

Adventure, Comedy, Documentary, Reality-TV

Brit Karl Pilkington has led a sheltered life. Not having done any traveling, he enjoys living within the comforts of what he knows, basically that being what is purely British. As such, his friends, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, decide to send Karl to various parts of the world to experience unfamiliar cultures. Stephen believes that travel is a life broadening venture, and hopes that Karl will indeed feel like his life is enriched by these travels. Ricky, however, hopes that Karl will hate every minute of his travels. For Ricky, this experiment is the most expensive gag for his own pleasure that he could have conceived.

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Season 1

Season 2

Season 3


Episodes details table

The Preview Show
A man, who sees the world as a photograph, is forced by his friends Ricky and Steve to go out to see the seven wonders of the world. What he does not know, is that he will be getting pranked the whole time.
User ratings: 146
Average rating: 8.1
Ricky and Stephen send Karl on his first trip to perhaps Karl's worst nightmare: China. The reason that Karl is so afraid of this locale is that what he is exposed to of Chinese culture - that being solely his local Chinatown - he does not understand at all, and he is afraid that if he gets a taste for some exotic Chinese food, such as toad, he won't be able to find it when he gets back home. On his itinerary is Beijing, the Great Wall of China (which he ends up believing is not great but a sham), and Shanhaiguan. Stephen also surprises him with some excursions, namely to a fortune teller (the thoughts from who Karl takes to heart despite not wanting to experience it since he does not want to know bad news in advance), on an extended trip to lesser section of the Great Wall, to a kung fu school where he is not only a spectator but also a student, and for a traditional hot massage, which is a little hotter than he would like. Karl has perhaps the most issue with the public restrooms, where there are no doors on the toilet stalls, and the food. Although he can avoid the street food which is unusual to him, he can't avoid the meal prepared for him on his remote visit to the Great Wall.
User ratings: 430
Average rating: 8.3
Upon Karl's arrival in Delhi, his senses are overwhelmed, and not in a good way, which is not helped by his sleeping arrangements. He trusts on day two of his trip, he will feel better if only because things can't get worse. He is scheduled for an eight hour overnight bus ride to the Kumbh Mela Festival, the largest religious festival in the world, which he is not looking forward to since he is not a religious person and doesn't understand the attraction of religion. But the day ends up being a "colorful" one in an unexpected way, which in part is the reason for him not feeling too well. As if the festival was not enough, his next stop is to visit with a living saint in his ashram for some spiritual guidance. Next, he is sent to a cow sanctuary, where he comes up close and personal with many aspects of the sacred animal, including its famous patties. And finally, he goes to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, which he believes was built out of guilt.
User ratings: 348
Average rating: 8.0
Karl is somewhat excited about his trip to Petra, Jordan, if only because of its association with the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), although he does mention that he would rather live in a cave across from the palace rather than live in the palace to be able to see the beautiful instead of seeing the squalor from the beautiful. His excitement is tempered when Stephen and Ricky suggest that since he is in the Middle East, that he take advantage of the situation by visiting Israel as well. This suggestion scares him because all news stories out of Israel are generally grim. Karl is amazed by the dichotomy of religion, which should be peaceful, versus the presence of armed military everywhere. Ricky and Stephen further surprise him with some training apropos to being in a war torn region of the world. Crossing the border into Bethlehem, which is in the Palestinian side, strengthens that dichotomy in his mind. On his way to Jordan, Karl stops off at the Dead Sea, which he sees as somewhat of a refuge for himself. The enjoyment he experiences floating in the water is marred by a telephone call from his friends, and something else floating in the water. Once in Jordan, Ricky and Stephen have arranged for him a two day camel ride across the desert to get to Petra, instead of the faster drive. Once in Petra, which is all Karl really wanted to see on this trip, Ricky and Stephen further surprise him by fulfilling his stated wish. Karl in turn surprises Ricky and Stephen by his response after that experience.
User ratings: 320
Average rating: 7.9
Karl isn't overly concerned about going to Mexico beyond Ricky and Stephen's assertion that it probably is the most dangerous place from a personal safety perspective than anywhere he's traveled thus far. As he travels there during the Easter season, Karl is exposed to two religious celebrations, the first which recreates the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and the second which is on the surface less religious and which the authorities would like to shut down if only because of its explosive and thus potentially dangerous nature. Interspersed between these two, Stephen and Ricky send Karl into training for what has become a Mexican cultural phenomenon: professional wrestling. He makes two stops on his way to the raison d'etre for the trip to Mexico, Chichén Itzá: the first to experience the life of a churro (a Mexican cowboy), and the second to spend some time with a Mayan family who are descendants of the builders of Chichén Itzá. The latter stop exposes him to more unusual food, namely bee larvae. He finally arrives at Chichén Itzá before dawn to beat the crowds, and to watch the sunrise over the monument. However, Karl can only focus on the issue of the "dead heads" associated with the place. Throughout his stay in Mexico, Karl goes on a search for the Mexico of his childhood, and it is uncertain if he will be able to find it. And he makes a surprising admission before he heads home.
User ratings: 302
Average rating: 8.3
For Karl's trip to Egypt, Ricky and Stephen believe it's time for him to experience budget travel by flying economy and staying in the seediest of hotels, about which Karl is not too happy. Karl's first experiences wandering the streets of Cairo makes him wonder how anyone gets anything done, as he is bombarded by street hawkers at every turn. Unlike his other travels, Karl ends up traveling almost immediately via camel-back to see the main site, the Great Pyramids, due to their close proximity, which ends up being underwhelming if only because of the weather. As he waits for the weather to clear to make another attempt to see the Pyramids, Karl is provided a guide, Achmed, who gives him a lesson in bartering, and takes him to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, in which Karl has no interest. So Karl ditches his guide to find some comfort food, which ends up also being an experience to which he is unaccustomed. Stephen and Ricky then send him on a Nile cruise, which does not lift his spirits beyond doing something just to piss off Ricky. They also send him to visit a couple named Andrew and Seija, who provide an alternative view of the Pyramids. Karl then revisits the Pyramids, which he will not believe great if only because they're old (unless they are the oldest things on Earth).
User ratings: 279
Average rating: 7.8
When Karl is told that his next trip will be to Rio de Janeiro to see Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado, his first reaction is that it is akin to a pylon: something that is there everyday that people probably get tired of seeing. What Ricky and Stephen don't tell him until he arrives in Rio is that they want him to be more social on his trips. As such, they place him in a dorm room in a hostel. They do tell him that Carnival will be happening while he's there. He's not too excited about it as he hates crowds and he presupposes it's a gay event, which makes him feel uncomfortable. But he is thrown into the festivities, whether he likes it or not. His anxiety at crowds is heightened when he is told he is also to attend a block party. He remarks at the dichotomy between the Catholic nature of the statue towering over the city, versus the overt sexuality displayed by the people, especially at the beach. His discomfort increases with interactions with his guide, Celso, which includes excursions to make sure Karl looks his best at the beach, a stop at the particular section of beach, and an invitation to stay the night at his place. And much like his sights were overwhelmed in India, his sense of hearing is overwhelmed throughout his stay in the city. He searches for a sanctuary, which doesn't end up being what he expects. When he finally goes to see Christ the Redeemer, will he still liken it to a pylon? He is given a slightly different perspective when he is taken on a helicopter ride around the monument.
User ratings: 270
Average rating: 7.9
Karl is relieved that this trip is his last, but is worried that Ricky and Stephen will do something monumentally outrageous to end the series on a high note. Karl has never heard of the monument he is to visit next: Machu Picchu. He is also not aware of the potential of altitude sickness due to lack of oxygen. But he is not concerned about the eleven hour trek to get to Machu Picchu, as he likes camping, and even makes preparations for a makeshift toilet. When he gets to his Peruvian lakeside location to start his trek, he learns that Ricky and Stephen are making him trek through the jungle along the Amazon instead. Of his Amazon accommodations, Karl is unsure of what's worse: the first couple of nights staying deep in the jungle in a tent among all the nocturnal creatures, many which are deadly, or the last few nights staying with a native tribe who used to be cannibals. When he reaches his destination of Machu Picchu, where he does feel the effects of lack of oxygen, Karl makes a surprise announcement to Ricky and Stephen. They in turn talk to him about a potential second season of the series. Will Karl agree to such?
User ratings: 260
Average rating: 7.8
Karl Comes Home
Karl, now back in Britain after his "seven wonders" trips, sits down with Ricky and Stephen to discuss the experience. Stephen is confused by Karl's seemingly contradictory statements about not wanting to miss the many sights and sounds on his travels, but also being overly annoyed by them. Many of those sights center on food. Many of the situations Karl experienced he classifies as false fun, which he does not like in principle. They talk about the people Karl met. Karl tells them about what he thinks he's learned from these travels. They discuss the fact that many viewers believe Karl is an actor playing a buffoon and that the show is scripted, or that Stephen and especially Ricky are bullies to Karl. Stephen and Ricky talk about their favorite moment: the Israeli terrorist training, which Karl did not know was going to occur. Beyond that situation, Karl talks about what was perhaps his most difficult experience. Despite Karl's assertions that he won't do another, they talk concepts for a second series. Karl gives his thoughts on his general impression of the world. And he compares these recent travels to his favorite travels, those when he was a child to a holiday park in Wales, those travels which he recently recreated.
User ratings: 252
Average rating: 8.1
Desert Island
Karl is sent to spend time on a desert island in the South Pacific. Along the way, he attempts bungee jumping, land-diving, and arseboarding, and he meets a tribe that worships Prince Philip.
User ratings: 268
Average rating: 7.7
Trans-Siberian Express
Karl takes the Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to China. On the trip, he experiences a Russian steam room, undergoes Cosmonaut training, meets a magnetic man, gets buried alive, competes in a wrestling match, and visits a dwarf village.
User ratings: 239
Average rating: 7.7
Swim with Dolphins
Karl's next adventure is what Ricky and Stephen say is probably the most mentioned bucket list item: to swim with dolphins. Although he's not excited by the prospect - likening it to swimming with three year olds - the fact that he will do it in Australia convinces him. Because of the long flight, he has a layover in Bangkok. There, he has an encounter which tests his idea of masculinity, does some blindfolded Thai boxing, and as a treat for relaxation gets a massage, although the locale and the masseuse make it less than relaxing for him. Karl learns that Ricky and Stephen have extended his stay in Thailand so that he can visit with some cobras running loose. That encounter unnerves him - especially as he meets a cobra handler without fingers due to his cobra encounters - until one of the cobras does something that Karl totally unexpects. Because his stay is so long in Thailand, Karl does what he wants to do, which is to visit with monkeys, but even that experience isn't quite what he expects. When Karl finally arrives in Australia to swim with dolphins, he learns that Ricky and Stephen have changed his swimming companions from dolphins to...
User ratings: 224
Average rating: 7.7
Whale Watching
The next item that Karl chooses from the bucket list is whale watching, as he admits that whales are large and thus interesting animals. Ricky and Stephen send him to Alaska to do so. They figure he might as well go into the Arctic Circle while he's in the vicinity, getting there via the scenic route, which requires him to do an activity he's never done, namely ski. Next, they send him to Barrow, his driver who has his own less than positive perspective of where they're going. There, he lives with Eskimos, eats whale before he sees them, travels to Point Barrow, the northernmost land point in the world, via snowmobile, and learns what daily life in a town in the far north is all about. To get to the boat on which he will do the whale watching, Karl is to travel by dog sled. Before Karl boards the boat, Stephen sends him to see some receding glaciers to appreciate what climate change is doing to the region. While on the boat, Karl is required to do the commercial work of the other crew members before he finally gets a chance to see a whale.
User ratings: 216
Average rating: 7.6
Meet a Gorilla
Karl travels to Africa to see wild gorillas. Prior to visiting the gorillas, Ricky and Steve send Karl to teach at a school, rebuild a hut, go bungee jumping, visit a domesticated hippo, cook for a king, and go animal tracking.
User ratings: 207
Average rating: 8.1
Route 66
Karl travels U.S. Route 66. Along the way, he participates in a high school production, a "snuggle party", gold mining, monster truck driving, Amish farming, and wing walking.
User ratings: 223
Average rating: 8.1
Climb Mount Fuji
Karl visits Japan where he trains to be a sumo wrestler, stays in a capsule hotel, decides to invent something, eats fermented Japanese fish, studies with a Zen Buddhist master, participates in a Japanese tea ceremony, and climbs Mt. Fuji.
User ratings: 205
Average rating: 7.7
Karl Comes Home
Karl returns home from the 'Bucket List' of adventures Ricky and Stephen have sent him on and the guys discuss the highs and lows of his trip
User ratings: 198
Average rating: 8.2
The Short Way Around: Venice
For the latest proposed travel adventure of Marco Polo's route from Venice to China, Karl wants to take along a mate for support and companionship. Who Ricky assigns is Warwick Davis, who Karl believes will be more of a hindrance than an asset if only because of his dwarf stature. But as their stay in their first locale - Venice - progresses, Karl realizes that the biggest problem with Warwick as an adventure travel partner is their total incompatibility in terms of what they want to do and experience. Their first Warwick chosen event is to attend a masquerade ball, which is a ritual of the area dating back centuries. Their choice of costumes reflects what they want to portray of themselves, although Karl feels less inclined to partake in the masquerade portion of the costume selection. This Warwick chosen activity is balanced by a Karl chosen activity: using a jet pack to fly over the canals. This activity ends up being a little less fun than Karl had anticipated. They then take a short cut from Marco Polo's route to go to Macedonia, first to hang out with Romani gypsies. Then on Warwick's suggestion for both their enjoyment, they go to see practitioners of Sufi Islam, they who perform mystical exercises. Karl is surprised that he himself enjoys participating in the ritual of the exercises, until... Finally, on Ricky's want, Karl goes up in the air attached to over-sized helium balloons. But Karl figures what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, which doesn't sit well with either Ricky or Warwick, if only for Karl's rationale.
User ratings: 200
Average rating: 7.5
The Short Way Around: India
Karl and Warwick arrive in Mumbai, India, the country which Karl hated on his last visit. Warwick, who is immediately taken by the sights and sounds, hopes Karl will appreciate it this second time around, while Karl wants to expose Warwick to the down and dirty side of life in India. They partake in the morning activity of laughing yoga. Ricky manages to get both Warwick and Karl parts in a Bollywood movie, which is right up Warwick's alley, but in which Karl wants to do his own improvisation. Next, Ricky gets them on a train to Varanasi, specifically so that they can watch the sun rise over the Ganges after they camp overnight by the riverside. That once in a lifetime activity is jeopardized specifically by Karl's reaction to some neighbors and on the sun in general. It is the life and death daily activity that fascinates both Karl and Warwick. They hop back on a train to head to West Bengal for the next activity chosen by Warwick, performing in the Olympic Circus, which is challenging if only in choosing what they will do that will impress the crowds. It's what Karl chooses next to see that could threaten his friendship with Warwick.
User ratings: 175
Average rating: 7.6
The Short Way Around: China
Still in India, Karl and Warwick are still clashing over Karl's want to be part of the Spider Sister's "act", as Warwick feels it's solely to capitalize on his dwarfism and the old mentality of him and the Spider Sisters being sideshow freaks. Once in China and on a Yangtze River cruise, Warwick believes that Karl's experience on the cruise is some retribution. They next travel to a panda reserve, and are required to get up and close and personal with one in what Karl considers a less than safe way. They decide to do some people watching on a down Sunday in Chengdu, with them being the ones watched at a food fair. This experience demonstrates how far Karl has progressed in what he is willing to do as a regular tourist. They next plan to scale Mount Emeishan to visit a Buddhist temple atop. This experience shows to the other how much they have relied on the other on this trip. They finally reach what is supposed to be their final destination of Hong Kong. Ricky, however, wants to provide them with what they think is a special side trip to Macau, but what is meant for their adventures to end on a high.
User ratings: 163
Average rating: 7.7
A Commentary
User ratings: 70
Average rating: 7.6
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