The worst episode of An Idiot Abroad’s first season was its finale, and I wish that I could say that wasn’t the case here. But since the show’s creators decided to use the same format for season two’s finale, which is to say a glorified DVD extra, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion before it even began.
It’s pretty obvious that Sky, the British television network that funded An Idiot Abroad needed the show to be eight episodes long, yet only had the budget for seven. As a result, episode eight of both seasons is just a clip show of the last seven, interspersed with Karl, Ricky and Stephen talking about what happened. There’s really not much else to it, and even though the same crew has no problem filling out hours of material on The Ricky Gevais Show, here they strain to fill the time.
A lot of what it comes down to is that seven episodes of time doesn’t warrant a clip show. Not only that, but the show is already a running commentary on its events. Karl isn’t exactly a recalcitrant speaker, and is more than happy to tell you exactly what he feels about things as they’re occurring. “Karl Comes Home” only gives him time to repeat that and show favorite bits of the past few episodes. But with so little time since they aired, it all feels pretty hollow.
The other disappointment is that there’s some tacit affirmation that Karl was right in some of his attitudes towards these events. Ricky and Stephen are laughing, but it’s a laughter that says, “You’re ridiculous, but not totally off-base.” That’s certainly the case with Karl’s prostate exam, where they talk about how important these can be while still cracking up about the idea—in a way that doesn’t imply they’re just laughing at Karl’s attitude towards the exam. If the discussion about the show was revelatory, that would be one thing. But instead it’s much worse than the short phone calls interspersed through the show, and adds nothing to what we’ve already seen. It rarely rises to the level of many DVD commentary tracks, let alone something warranting as much screentime as a trip to Africa.
The redeeming part of the episode is Karl shilling his Pilko Pants on the air, simply because it’s something new. Well, also because it’s wonderfully absurd. Karl instantly goes into a ridiculous salesman patois on the air, and this scene is one of the funniest parts of the entire show, let alone the otherwise lukewarm episode. “Karl Comes Home” ends well, too, with Karl singing karaoke, but these are little glimmers. For the most part it’s completely forgettable, a strangely bland ending for a show that in its normal episodes can usually find the entertainment in almost anything.
•This episode brought to you by the color navy blue.
•I appreciate that Karl asks after the exam whether he’s a doctor.
•Hippo in the House is also the name of a non-existent board game in The Simpsons
•I completely lost the thread of the gorilla-hand conversation. No idea what they were going on about.
•My favorite thing about the Pilko Pump Pants is that they have no pump (and, really, a pump to inflate a cushion in your pants would make far more sense than what they actually are).
•Karl singing karaoke is the happiest I’ve ever seen him.