I don’t really watch reality television. I used to casually follow Survivor and The Amazing Race for their exotic locales and adventurist themes, but grew tired of the human melodrama. I watch TV for good storytelling, not histrionic bickering.
That being said, I’m unequivocally hooked on the History Channel’s new Expedition Africa after just one episode.
The concept is simple. Take four experienced explorers from different fields, give them maps and a compass, and let them try to retrace the path that the infamous Henry Morton Stanley forged in 1871 to find the missing Dr. Livingstone.
The explorers have no GPS. No sat-phone. And here’s the real kicker: they’re trying to do it in just 30 days. It took Stanley nine months and over 200 porters.
I loved every minute of the premiere. The adventure starts in Zanzibar, once the capital of the Arab slave trade. From there, the explorers cross the Zanzibar Channel in a perilous, old-fashioned dhow to the eastern coast of Africa in Tanzania, and work their way through treacherous mangrove swamps filled with knee-deep mud, spitting cobras, and deadly crocodiles. If that doesn’t sound like good television, check your pulse!
The four explorers occasionally butt heads when faced with a vital decision, but they maintain respect for one another’s skills and experience, so the arguments never spiral out of control. After all, no one’s trying to win a million dollars. The point is the adventure itself, and that’s why the media is already branding Africa “the best reality show of all time.”
Watch Expedition Africa Sunday nights at 10/9c on the History Channel, or online over here.
Also, here are the four explorers and their specialties: