Left with the leftovers

Around the world on $80: Yigal Tzur's kooky travel series is a gem among the reruns.

globe88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Sunday lunch. We hate Sunday lunch. That's when everyone in the house complains there's "nothing to eat," and we start searching the back of the freezer for the leftovers. That bruised pulke nobody wanted. The tuna that someone said tasted a little off. Those tired string beans. Sounds a lot like the TV fare lately, where our local channels seem to be serving up retreads or reruns, sometimes without even letting this be known in advance to the public, as was recently the case even with Eretz Nehederet. My God, Star World has actually brought back that horrible sci-fi/newspaper show The Chronicle! Someone alert Superman!! Sometimes we don't even KNOW we're being fed a recycled program, as happened to us the other day when we searched for something new, we thought, to write about this week. There it was in the schedule: Channel 10, Thursday night, 9 p.m.: Around the World on $80. We'd heard about this show - in which kooky personality Yigal Tzur travels the world, doing all kinds of odd jobs and stunts to raise money for charity and to be able to continue traveling - from No. 1 son, and welcomed an opportunity to finally catch the fun travelogue. And truly, it is fun. For those who've seen the BBC's Louis Theroux series, Tzur sort of lives a similar life. He's afraid of nothing, willing to do anything, and has a great sense of humor. So here he is in Bombay, buying flowers and a card to try to win the heart of a Bollywood actress so he can get a bit part in a movie. Poor Yigal - turns out Indian women aren't moved by flowers. There goes that part. Thank goodness he got a different reception in Varanasi, on the Ganges, where after physically jamming with a contortionist, he got a job as a rickshaw driver. The narrator gets great lines, too, as when Yigal was offered a hit of the contortionist's smoke. "Either Yigal is beginning to get the hang of stuff, or the stuff is beginning to get to Yigal," said the narrator dryly. It's also fun to cringe at Yigal's horrible English, as when he told one customer happily: "You did my day." From there it was on to Bangkok, where our man took to the ring for a kick-boxing match, saying Shma in his corner with his Israeli trainer before the belll rang. More proof that prayer works: Yigal survived his three-round match to make some more money and guarantee another music room will be built for the charity which sponsors the show. In Hong Kong, Tzur took a shine to the diamond business, where he convinced wily old Mr. Tze to buy his diamond, even though it got less than a glowing review. In Shanghai, his assignment was to sell pitot to Chinese passersby. Donning a traditional Chinese outfit and ordering up a sign in Chinese, Tzur had the locals literally eating out of the palm of his hand. Perhaps the best bit was his last, in Japan, where he was assigned to teach Japanese to sing in Hebrew, or is that Heblew? Anyway, luck was with Yigal, who found a Japanese lad who'd studied at Ben-Gurion University and helped him drum up a band to whom Yigal taught the lyrics to the Kaveret song "Poh Kavur Hakelev." Then it was time to be on to the next destination. Or not - at least not right away, since apparently this was a rerun, stuck into Channel 10's line-up to fill in some space ahead of the new game show that begins next week. So what's Channel 10 doing rerunning the first episode of a series without any idea when the next one will be rerun, if at all? Search us. It seems like every local channel - with Channels 2 and 10 the main culprits - can pretty much do what they like with their schedule, assuming that we will all keep watching. And other networks, like Channel 3, for example, can keep feeding us stuff that's been shown to death, even if they are new episodes, like Yes, Dear (can someone explain to me how that ever survived in the US for so long), JAG, Frasier, or Charmed. The movie channels aren't much better, especially HOT's. Even Yatzpan's in reruns.... None of this is to take away from the charm of Tzur's program, and if you keep a sharp eye on the Channel 10 schedule, we're sure it will pop up again to fill in a gap. But that's no way to treat your own original programming or your audience. With the advent of all kinds of video programming now available on-line, viewers can have a ready alternative diet to the rehashed fare being plopped on their screens most nights. It's high time schedulers pay a little more attention to their audience, but that will only happen when that audience smartens up and says: "Enough leftovers! We're going in search of some real TV protein." As for us, we're sticking with a steady diet of House, Deadwood, Rescue Me, and downloads of The Shield, with an occasional side-order of Simpsons reruns. Here's hoping summer brings better TV fare our way.