Picks and Pans Review: Michael Palm's Hemingway Adventure

updated 05/08/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Wed., May 3 and 10, 9 p.m. ET)

It would be a stretch to describe Michael Palin as Papa's spiritual son. In this four-hour travelogue tracing the steps of Ernest Hemingway, the-Monty Python alumnus cheerfully proves he's no match for the macho writer at hunting, fishing, boxing, etc. But like Palin's witty 1995 novel Hemingway's Chair, the TV tour combines a genuine regard for the author's work and spirit with a healthy irreverence toward his legend. Add Palin's personal charm (evidenced in previous PBS travel specials like Pole to Pole) and you're in for a most enjoyable journey.

Among our stops on the Hemingway trail are the Oak Park, Ill., birthplace; the north Michigan woods; the homes in Key West and Cuba; the Paris and Venice haunts; the Green Hills of Africa; and the last retreat in Idaho. A few jokes fall flat and not every path has a payoff, but it's worth the trip to see Palin browse in an all-American gun shop, duck-hunt in vain with an Italian nobleman or hang out at Sloppy Joe's bar amid the annual insanity of the Papa look-alike contest. And a new tie-in book of the same title enhances the Hemingway Adventure's literary value.

Bottom Line: Moveable feast

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