Picks and Pans Review: Adventure: Ring of Fire

updated 05/16/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Mon., May 16, 8 p.m. ET)


Those shows above about Hemingway, Markham and even Goetz try to give you daring or wonder or at least excitement. But here are the real things. This four-part mini—presented as the opening of this season's Adventure—gives you all those qualities plus an exotic and entertaining perspective on the world. This is a documentary like none you've ever seen. Lorne and Lawrence Blair—two English-born, Mexican-raised, slightly but pleasantly crazy brothers—show us wow-inspiring highlights from their 10-year exploration of Indonesian islands. They sail with gypsy pirates, survive a deadly storm, attend weddings overseen by traditional transvestite priests, visit an ape burial ground where pythons are caught, go underwater with mother-of-pearl divers and find the gorgeous bird of paradise flying in a faraway jungle—all in just one hour. In the next three weeks they will visit man-eating animals and man-eating men, stand next to erupting volcanoes, build a house in Bali, attend the biggest funeral you've ever seen, and find wonder in wondrous places. Many things make this mini special: The brothers treat their hosts in these strange lands as humans, not curiosity items. They are equally skeptical and open—at first seeing rituals of walking on coals as "extreme and pointless feats" and then finding meaning in them. The brothers also sprinkle wit throughout their commentary: On the pirates' boat, "our supposedly fresh water jars were fascinating windows onto the beginnings of all life," and during a storm, "not exactly confidence-inspiring was the sight of our most experienced helmsman bowing to Mecca at times not prescribed by the Islamic faith." Most of all, they just show you phenomenal scenes you've never seen before and couldn't see without them. So ignore the worthless introductions by Richard Gere and you will be treated to one truly magnificent Adventure.

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