Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Michael Palin: Full Circle

Comedian Michael Palin's globetrotting expeditions have always made for good television travelogues. There's something compulsively watchable about an unassuming, smart, funny man making his way through parts of the world seldom seen by non-natives. The programs themselves, however, are often unsatisfying in the best possible sense: They leave viewers wishing to see and know more about the places Palin visits. Fortunately, the books accompanying the series go far in correcting this problem, and Full Circle is no exception. Reprinting the journal Palin kept throughout his trip around the Pacific Rim, the book provides more detail than can be contained in the series. It also conveys more of Palin's opinions about the places he encounters: For example, when in the Philippines, he visits a couple of "psychic surgeons," bare-handed healers who magically produce blood and wormlike contaminants through mystical powers. On the show, Palin is subtly skeptical of their legitimacy, but restrains from calling them charlatans. In the book, his opinion is considerably clearer. It's such extra details, along with Palin's lucid writing and some striking photos, that make Full Circle more than a mere coffee-table book. Often, it's an improvement on the already fine television program it accompanies.


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