Tuesday, October 24, 2006

tv's gr8est travelogue genres

I read this story from LostRemote about Travelistic, the site that mashes user travel vids with Google maps, as I suggested about six months ago.

And that got me thinking again.

If you wanted to search travel vids by genre — not location, not person — what genres would you choose? I took a look at the popular tags on Travelistic and I must be way off-base. My list doesn't come close to matching the tags.

After analyzing schticks for more than 200 TV travel series, I compiled my list of tv's gr8est travelogue genres:
    8. History: Probably a great idea for families and history buffs, but it's not my cup of tea. Quite a few families play DVDs on driving trips to keep kids occupied and make the trip educational. I'm a fan of that since it's real-time. But shows like "Bob Vila's Guide to Historic Homes" and "Great Castles of Europe" don't do much for me when I'm sitting in my living room.

    7. Outdoor/Lifestyle Sports: The big problem with this genre? Repetition. You can only see so many golf courses and fishing holes before the shows start running together. That's why I was was happy to see "Fantasy Camp" in the list since that show can focus on a different lifestyle sport every ep.

    6. Budget Travel: A staple of the travel industry — how to get the most bang for your buck. This genre usually focuses on daytrips ("Dream Drives") and weekenders ("3 Day Weekend"). Sometimes just straight budget shows ("$40-a-Day"). And now extreme budget shows ("Stranded with Cash Peters"). I'd love to see an everyday person try a more extreme version of "Stranded" to see if a nobody can stay in a city for a week after starting with no cash.

    5. Celebrity Trips: I'm not usually a fan of watching celebrities vacation. "Trippin' with Cameron Diaz" didn't do much for me. I never watched Michael Palin's series of travelogues. I had no interest in Ewan McGregor's "Long Way Round." There's only one reason why Celeb Trips even made the list — E!'s "Celebrity Adventures." Any series that boasts Jessica Biel in Bali and Rachel Leigh Cook at the Great Barrier Reef is more than OK in my book.

    4. Exotic Locales: Beaches. Rain forest. Deserts. Islands. And don't forget the bikinis. While "Wild On" and "Romantic Escapes" kind of bookmark this genre, luxury is one of the over-riding themes — "Luxury Adventures," "Luxury Travel Show" and "Sensational Spas."

    3. Adventure/Extreme Sports: I could watch Warren Miller movies and surf vids all day. It's the combination of scenery, varied terrain and the chance for a death-defying trick or accident. (If some of the lifestyle travel shows presented opportunities for broken bones, I would like fishing travel skeins a lot more.) Shows like "Freeride with Greta Gains," "On Surfari," "Untracked" and "Wildboyz" are my perfect antidote for depression.

    2. Food & Restaurants: I think people lie about this one. It's not a very popular tag at Travelistic, but everybody has to eat. And how come I often have to wait to be seated when I eat on vacation? Maybe people just aren't interested in watching vids of "All-American Festivals," "Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels" or "Roker on the Road." But I'd rather see a vid that some menu pics.

    1. Alcohol: "Insomniac with Dave Attell" really sold me on this theme. Dave combined alcohol with city sites and freaks in a seamless, slurred show. Now everybody is jumping on the beer wagon. "Aussie Wine Trail." "Cocktail Kings." "The Thirsty Traveler." "Three Sheets." Even when the shows are bad, they're still great on the cringe scale and the unintentional comdedy scale. Just think "Taradise."

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