In this 10-part BBC documentary series, architect and arts expert Dan Cruickshank takes a five month world tour visiting his personal selection of the eighty greatest man-made treasures (mostly buildings and artifacts) in 34 countries on all inhabited continents. The episodes cover: 1° Peru via Chile's Easter Island to Brazil; 2° Mexico to Central North America (in the USA); 3° Australia trough Indonesia and Thailand to Cambodia; 4° Japan to China ; 5° India to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon); 6° Uzbekistan trough Azerbaijan and Iran (Persia) to Syria; 7° Jordan via the Jerusalem Temple Mount to Ethiopia; 8° Mali trough Libya to Egypt; 9° Turkey trough Russia and Poland to Germany; 10° Bosnia trough Greece, Italy and Spain to France and Home. Written by
Do people of tenderer years than me know about the curate's egg? A polite young clergyman, entertained at breakfast by his bishop, was asked about his stale egg. It was 'good in parts', said the curate, remembering the shell.
Around the World in 80 Treasures is 'good in parts'. How could it be otherwise? A crew spends months travelling the world to present wonderful things made by man, ancient and modern. Of course there has to be a mix. Some treasures are new, others are old. Some are enormous, others are tiny. Think of a contrast and you'll find it.
The bad parts are when presenter/writer Dan Cruickshank appears, speaks and gesticulates. He is an embarrassment of the highest order. Can't he voice words except in a breathless whisper? Why does every sentence have to be punctuated by unnecessary pauses? Is he incapable of speaking without making irritating hand gestures every few seconds? Why choose a presenter who can't even pronounce 'treasure' properly?
The choice of treasures hardly matters. The series includes things and places that everyone has heard of (Angkor Wat, Petra, Granada...) and a smattering of oddities (VW beetle, modern chair...). Many of them are astounding, but as soon as the the viewer begins to marvel the idiotic presenter intrudes.
When Cruickshank is absent his series provides wonderful images. As soon as he appears, any magic vanishes. My rating is an average of at least 9/10 for the choice of treasures, and at most 1/10 for the execrable way in which they're presented.
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