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TV Review: ‘The Moaning of Life – Marriage’

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British television personality Karl Pilkington is back with a new travel/adventure series, The Moaning of Life. Karl, who has just turned 40, has decided that he needs to investigate the true meaning of life as he enters middle age, or as he refers to it, “We’ve had the Iron Age, the Stone Age — this the pissing-about age.” Karl recently explored the subject of “Marriage” in the series, which airs on Science Channel on Saturdays at 10 p.m. Now a seasoned world traveler, thanks to his previous series An Idiot Abroad, Karl traveled to India to learn about arranged marriages, and to the U.S., to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, to try out a scientific way to meet some one at a pheromone party, as well as witness some unusual weddings in Las Vegas.

Karl meets the parents

Karl meets the parents

In India, after consulting with a marriage broker, Karl selected and then met a young lady and potential bride whose parents quizzed him, asking him a series of practical, yet, in Karl’s view, intrusive questions. After an hour and a half of meeting the girl and her family wedding plans were even discussed (unbeknownst to Karl’s longtime girlfriend of 20 years). Karl also learned that the other side of the arranged wedding/interview is the marriage detective, who he joined one afternoon on the trail, investigating if what was said by a potential groom to his potential mate and her family meeting was true.

The series, which began airing in the U.K. last October, has a total of five episodes. Besides “Marriage,” Karl looks into “Happiness” in Mexico and Los Angeles; “Kids” in Japan, Bali, and Indonesia; “Vocation and Money” in Japan, South Africa and Los Angeles; and “Death” in Ghana, Taiwan, the Philippines, and finally, back home in England.

Karl is as entertaining in his observances as ever, but not quite as reluctant to sample local cultures as he appeared to be in An Idiot Abroad (and its two spin-offs, The Bucket List and An Idiot Abroad: The Short Way Round) — probably because this time out he is choosing these adventures, as opposed to what comedians and show producers Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant decided they should subject him to, constantly jerking him out of his tiny comfort zone. But that doesn’t mean that Karl has lost his critical abilities, as the show is full of his funny and exasperated observances and creative expressions of disbelief.

For instance, he can’t believe the Indian wedding he has been invited to observe and attend has a guest list of five thousand. “There’s five thousand people. How many people do they know?” As always his mind races towards the most practical of matters, “… How many toilets? Two.” He’s a little more open to the pheromone party in Los Angeles, where guests sniff baggies of attendees’ tee shirts to select the perfect person, but thinks his nose may have “too high standards” compared to the rest of him.

Karl Pilkington definitely seems more at ease without Gervais and Merchant hovering over his shoulder, but The Moaning of Life is no less funny than his previous efforts. He may believe that a job in television is ultimately “the most unworthy job,” but hopefully that won’t stop him from continuing to produce such entertaining and funny documents of his travels in future.

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