Have you ever wanted to see Dara Ó Briain thrown to the floor by a lucha libre wrestler, whilst Ed Byrne looks on? Although you may be tempted by the ridiculousness of this proposal, in watching the three-part faux travel series, Dara and Ed’s Great Big Adventure, the novelty soon wears off.
The two comedians take on the Pan-American Highway, a route originally travelled by three pioneers from Detroit, but they appear lost on the longest road in the world as they bicker across mountains and deserts. Travelling a total of 2,311 miles from Arizona to Southern Mexico in this first instalment of lads-on-tour baloney, the programme dedicates a fleeting moment to each destination to ensure enough time for commentary on Dara and Ed’s wearisome relationship, and dashes of golden, Pan-American pride.
While the original “three fools” – Sullivan Richardson, Arnold Whitaker and Kenneth Van Heethrough – trudged through mud and faced the elements of the desert for days on end in their Pymouth Sedan, Dara and Ed make a fuss about being on a high-up bridge for one kilometre of road. Some interesting aspects of local life can be seen across the stretch, from cliff diving in Mazatlan to a roadside mariachi band. However, appealing to your inner blokey-joker, the show is the least adventurous attempt to delve into the culture of Central America.
In amongst the mockery of culture and the “making up” of some archaeology at Monte Alban’s Aztec remains, they do highlight the dire poverty and violence which provoked mass illegal immigration from Central to North America, and the alarming extent of drug cartel activity yet to be quelled.
The Pan-American Highway sought to bring together the Americas, whilst Dara and Ed seem quite content to don a cowboy hat and sneer at the unfamiliar. Aside from the dangerous realities and bizarre sports of the regions, there is much to be celebrated of Pan-Am culture that was left unearthed.