Enjoyably brisk and engaging musical travelogue even if it is more broad than insightful, and Hunter seems a little stiff in some scripted moments
BBC4 has a recently very good track record with getting American comedians who are popular in the UK, and sending them off to do America-focused documentaries; I refer of course to Rich Hall, who has made some very fine films for the channel, and it was as a result of these that I was interested to see Reginald D. Hunter's series of films. The musical content also very much appealed to me, and indeed from the start the sheer abundance of good music played in short clips is enough to get you into the spirit and love for the music of the places that the film tours.
It helped that I have been to several of the states at least that the film covers, but it did engage that things covered the spots we all know, but mostly trying to go off the beaten track and travel the states like a local rather than a tourist. It is not really a documentary per se, more of a musical travelogue, and as such it is fairly brisk in its pace and the depth to which it discusses anything. This is perhaps understandable and, while I would have liked to have had more insight into the places and music, there is still more than enough here to support that side in combination with the travel and the celebration of music and cultures.
Hunter is a warm and engaging host, and seems genuine for the vast majority of the films. I am not entirely sure that the scripted sections sit comfortably with him though – a particular example being the opening monologue about his journey which plays out at the top of each episode – but mostly he is himself. The personal journey he goes on is really only something he refers to in words, rather than really showing us it, but even with that aspect not really flying, it still worked for what it was. The music, and the love of the music is what makes it work – the travel aspect feels like a device to act as a hook for the pitch meeting, but it does the job.
So not the great series of films that I had hoped, but still brisk, enjoyable, engaging and well put together.
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