Nervous Eugene Levy makes Apple TV+’s ‘Reluctant Traveler’ work


Eugene Levy is the star of “The Reluctant Traveler” (Apple TV+, starting Friday), a candy stunt journey present that mixes touristic curiosity with incidental comedy and late-life private progress. I think about this all started with some producer’s notion that it could be amusing to have the man who ran the down-market Rosebud Motel in “Schitt’s Creek” host a present about exceptional, better-than-first-class luxurious inns all over the world. However, reportedly, the sequence because it emerged was formed by Levy’s real disinclination towards journey and new experiences — his consolation zone is seemingly the scale of a walk-in closet — and the sequence finds issues for him to do he would ordinarily keep away from.

The present combines travel-series tropes with prearranged situations by which Levy is dropped into difficult conditions — which, for probably the most half, after some hemming and hawing, he submits to, whether or not it’s strolling throughout a suspension bridge (he fears heights) or consuming sushi (he by no means has) in a Tokyo “artwork” restaurant, or just heading out into an unfamiliar metropolis.

A match 75 on the time of filming (although he’ll level out greater than as soon as that he’s “outdated”), Levy finds himself driving a canine sled, piloting a sailboat, using a horse, planting a espresso tree, screwing a gap within the ice to fish, feeding reindeer or sheep. (“The sheep ran as quickly as they noticed me. Did they see a film they didn’t significantly look after?”) In a special form of problem, he’s despatched for a session of “forest remedy” — he’s by no means had or needed any form of remedy, preferring to maintain the non-public non-public — the place, suggested to disclose one thing he has by no means instructed a soul, he confesses to the Costa Rican rainforest that he as soon as misplaced $800 in a poker recreation.

Meals evidently means so much to him — on the counter of an Italian osteria, he really bounces on his ft in anticipation — however his tastes are easy. (“If it’s too Michelin for me it’s generally robust to search out one thing you actually need to eat.”) Filling out a pre-arrival questionnaire for a resort within the Maldives that guarantees to meet any request — buying a pat of butter from a selected area of France is given to him for instance — he lists his dream meal as a cheeseburger, fries and shake.

The inns are certainly uncommon — in South Africa, it’s a string of transformed railroad automobiles parked throughout a bridge, in Venice it’s a former palace — however they’re additionally castles within the air, past the attain of most commonly employed people. (Some make the White Lotus appear like … effectively, the Rosebud Motel.) Fortuitously, the sequence doesn’t spend all that a lot time indoors, as a lot as Levy is at occasions tempted to; ordinarily, he says, on the primary morning in his Venetian palace, he would keep in for hours, “having a espresso — or two.” However the phrases of the settlement ship him exterior to “get misplaced,” although actually solely till he’s delivered into the palms of his subsequent pleasant information. And, after all, there’s at all times a movie crew at his shoulder.

To his ethical credit score, Levy typically appears as in poor health relaxed with luxurious as with the prospect of an evening stroll via the rainforest or getting right into a helicopter. “I can perceive consuming 24 carrots, however consuming gold is a complete different factor,” he says, introduced with a dessert trimmed with gold leaf. This pays off, extra comfortably, when he visits the household workshop the place the gold leaf is hammered by hand and is enlisted to help.

Though the vicarious tourism is a part of the enchantment — the present seems good and provides a wonderful sense of its various settings, from Lapland to Lisbon to the Utah desert — it’s finest when Levy is most visibly nervous (which can also be when he’s at his funniest) or emotionally moved or connecting with locals, the individuals who name him “Eugene” versus “Mr. Levy” and who snigger at his jokes somewhat than staring quizzically.

Levy is an interviewer, happiest when dialog or circumstances result in discuss of household, theirs or his — spouse Deb and kids (and “Schitt’s” co-stars) Dan and Sarah Levy. He relates on a private degree to a gondolier whose son will finally take over his enterprise. In Costa Rica he “crashes” the eighty fifth birthday of a carpenter, the place, to his shock, he discovers “American Pie” followers; in Utah, which has a major emotional impact on him (it’s his first time within the desert), he spends time with the household of his Navajo information.

I’ve had a number of journalistic events to spend time with Levy, and although you’ll be able to’t at all times inform about individuals whose job is partly to be good to journalists, the person onscreen right here appears very a lot the individual I’ve met in individual. Self-mocking, humorous, modest in that Canadian means — “I hope by permitting me to remain right here you’re not decreasing the bar,” he tells the supervisor of his Venetian resort, as he’s proven a particular visitor guide crammed with well-known signatures — and wonderful firm.

‘The Reluctant Traveler With Eugene Levy’

The place: Apple TV+
When: Anytime, beginning Friday
Score: TV-PG (could also be unsuitable for younger youngsters)