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  The Chatter Box : The Series
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New Europe - whole series by geordiegirl on 4 November 2007 4:11pm
Now it's over (for us on live TV in UK, anyway) what do we think of it as a whole?
I found most of every episode really enjoyable (although I'm learning a lot more from the book, I must say)& what struck me - he never mentions it - is the obvious affection in which he (& the other Pythons i guess) is held. You can hear it in the tone of voice some people talk to him in. Must have been an experience for all surviving Pythons to have a whole new audience in the former soviet-bloc countries.
I love all the little in inividual Stories he tells - particularly the rural self-sufficency ones: as someone who gardens a lot, I identify with this.
Re: New Europe - whole series by kisch on 4 November 2007 6:12pm
I still think these series are a success, and even more so because of the fact they caused (maybe minor, maybe a little forced) a bit of controvercy. I found Mr P's attempt on social observation rather enjoyable and it actually made me think a lot and probably reconsider some of my views. I don't think the result is exactly the same as it was supposed to be, and the only negative thing is there are too many countries in too a short time, but I applause this experiment and hope a lot of people enjoyed it as much as I did.
Re: New Europe - whole series by CarlT on 4 November 2007 9:08pm
Probably not the best series, but I really enjoyed it all the same.
Yes, there were too many countries for a seven part series, but what he intended to do as he said was to see some of the people you would not see when either going on holiday or visiting a big city, and in that he achieved that objective.
What I enjoyed most though, was how the history of an area was focused on. For example the recent war in what was Yugoslavia and the affect it had on the 'new' countries. The break up of the USSR and the affect on the Baltic states and in particular, how the second world war and break up of communism is portrayed and remembered in Poland and the old East Germany.
Unfortunately, for me what disappointed me is how groups of people have seen this series as a reason to boost their countries tourist numbers and have ganged up to really slag the series off. That should never happen with a project like this and reading a lot of peoples criticism on this board in particular has really annoyed me.
Re: New Europe - whole series by Blasi on 4 November 2007 10:18pm
Disappointing series all in all.

From my perspective, it came across as poorly planned, poorly produced, and poorly written. The same old questions being asked to the wrong people.

I forgave this on Himalaya because the environment was clearly testing and wearisome on the body, but Michael also looked a little lacking in sparkle in New Europe too, give or take a few scenes. I wouldn't necessarily use the word disinterested but he often came across a little on the bored side; as though he'd sooner be anywhere but here. Some of the interviews were also terribly awkward and embarrassing, imo.

So what did I learn about 'New Europe' from the series? Not much I'm afraid.

There's plenty more adventures left in Michael but I think the format needs to be reviewed if they're to be a success.
Re: New Europe - whole series by geordiegirl on 5 November 2007 5:27pm
Yes Kisch I like to think he might have wanted to do his bit for promoting understanding of, & a wish to visit, these countries, therefore to however small an extent lessening any fear & suspicion about.
Also I think he just wanted to go there. There's a nice part in the intro. to the book when he says after a long flight from exploring somewhere he gets to within 2 hours of home, looks out of the plane window & sees a house far below, with lights, imagines people in the kitchen making coffee & wants to go visit them, because they're so near & for so much of his life have been so cut off.
I can identify with that - visiting Hungary for the first time in '86 I almost expected the very landscape to be different from that at the Austrian border.
Re: New Europe - whole series by Godfather on 5 November 2007 7:15pm
Well there is no doubt that Godfather was one of the whiners about this series, perhaps overly analytical about why it seemed to be such a flop, and nearly gave up on it entirely at one stage. But around the 4th episode I recognized that I had wedged myself into a certain mindset far too early on and was sticking to it, not watching each further episode properly. It was on a repeat of an episode I had dismissed and hardly watched while it was on in the room when doing something else, that i got to watch it properly and saw it in a "whole" new light and realized my error. Episode 4,5,and 6 were pretty good. Unfortunately the last episode dipped again as a whimper, rather than as a bang. Overall, I would just describe the series as midly interesting, but easily forgetable amongst the Palin collection of journeys.
Re: New Europe - whole series by danspencer on 5 November 2007 7:47pm
Firstly, may I say a great big thanks to Michael Palin, for hours of fantastic entertainment over the past few years. I've enjoyed them all!

My absolute favourite was Around the World in Eighty Days, which I must have watched 10 times or more!

But for the reasons that made ATWIED so amazing, I have to say New Europe didn't quite get there for me. Obviously the time pressure within ATWIED gave added excitement, but also I felt, the interviews in New Europe felt too rehearsed, and quite obviously the interviewees were found by researchers rather than Michael himself. It just didn't feel natural to me. Added to that, because the interviewees had been so carefully selected, we missed out on Michael's usual witty anecdotes, presumably so as not to offend them.

Saying that, the places visited were a real eye opener, and I certainly plan to visit some of them on future holidays etc...

In 2002, my wife and daughter (then aged 3) embarked on an 80 day circular tour of America, covering 12000 miles!, where we met some amazing and sometimes bizarre people. I've said ever since that I'd love to see Michael's take on America. I know it's a "normal" place to go, rather than the unusual places usually visited by Michael, but people don't often get the opportunity to travel right around the country, seeing the surprising changes in culture, and the incredible landscapes not often shown on British television.

Please Michael, do America! Just the thought of it, makes me want to do it all again. I could always be an extra camera man?!!!!
Re: New Europe - whole series by Katia on 5 November 2007 8:23pm
All right, I have already written a few miles in the 7th episode thread and I won't get back to it because some of the posters are getting too personal. If I could, I would do an Ouija board session and call upon the spirit of Colonel Chapman to end it all with his sacramental "GET ON WITH IT!". The "negative" posters wouldn't listen to anybody anyway. Moreover, I'm sure that if Michael had charged the crew to go further into Slovakia and spared another 10 minutes (certainly, to sacrifice some other country footage!) to show a castle and/or, say, a ski resort, there would have been a torrent of complaints like "We also have spas! We also have wonderfully preserved wooden villages!" and so on. And I once mentioned a local comment like "he shows Estonia as a "retarded" country, far backwards from Europe, full of religious fanatics and using "voodoo methods in medicine". Isn't that ridiculous? You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity, they say...

I have to admit that the series may be not informative enough (for someone who has never heard of the New Europe as such:)). But any country, be it big or small, could NOT be fully, thoroughly and "fairly" presented even if they were allowed 20 minutes each (i.e. if the entire duration of the series was equally divided between the 20 countries). So there would always be a ground for moaning, or, in this case, a real casus belli, including incomprehensibly idiotic death threats, protest notes etc.

By the way, no-one of the indignant posters bothered to explain what's that wrong with pork industry and making pork sausages. To me, it was quite interesting to see how they are made:) And yes you have to slaughter pigs to make them sausages anyway! What the heck is wrong with that? And how the heck insulting may be the picture of guys having an outdoor meal and drinking? It seemed to me nobody got really drunk, by the way. Don't call me silly for saying that, I'm just using "understandable" arguments for those who found the bit in question "insulting". I fail to see the reason for calling the normal village people who do their job and then have a rest "simpletons" (by the way, is it a swear word in Slovakian?..). The funniest is that their fellow Slovaks (who apparently eat those sausages) called them so! LOL. I am *almost* sure that the Romanian lumberjacks do not drink lemonade and read Rene Decart after "cuttung down trees". Nevertheless, all the viewers (including Slovaks) found them quite OK!

Am I getting too silly? All right, I do not need Colonel Chapman to stop myself. I did like the series. I got what I needed anyway. So may I just thank you, Michael and the crew, very much. And you know what? I am going to watch it again:)
Re: New Europe - whole series by chris1979 on 8 November 2007 5:25pm
It's time to stop comparing each new series to 80 Days. 80 Days will never be topped, unless a similar challenge can be somehow devised. We should approach each new series with a different expectation.

The aims of the series have evolved. Where 80 Days was conceived purely for the challenge, and Pole to Pole offered great entertainment value, the more recent series have placed more emphasis on the history and people of the places he visits. Given the number of episodes, the possiblity of forming a rounded impression of each country visited in New Europe was clearly impossible. I thought the strategy chosen by the producers worked for the most part. The amount of screen time given to each country would depend on the quantity of useable footage, the quality of interviewees, the weather and whether interesting facts about the country could be woven into the narrative. I didn't always agree with what they chose to screen, but by and large it sustained by interest (and the interest of over 5 million other viewers who watch the whole series).

Michael has also changed too. His eccentric edges have been rounded off, his chirpiness slightly eroded and replaced by a well-travelled weariness. Recently, the birth of his first grandson clearly redefined his outlook as he freely admitted during publicity for New Europe, and even in passing during the series itself.

Whilst I would love him to travel the Silk Route, and make that long-mooted trip through Latin America, I think that New Europe could well be the final trip.
Re: New Europe - whole series by mario toni on 18 November 2007 11:11am
I am a huge fan of M.P. past documentaries, but this one is, well, poor. For instance, Michael jumps from season to season. In the beginning he's in Split (summer) or Medjugorje (which is btw spelled Medjugorye) and after, for me, too long Sarajevo sequence (because we all know what happened there, but that also happened in Vukovar in Croatia and not a word about that) he is all of the sudden in Belgrade in winter. And then again it is a summer in Dubrovnik or Bulgaria...Some states were mentioned practicaly in a few sentences (Macedonia - very harsh transition to Bulgaria interesting sequence), but some states take almost half of episode!
Oh, the themes...well, mostly trivial! Come on, Michael! You are in Czech republic and you talk with a Czech female singer group which sings African style!!!! Is that interesting??? Is it native Czech tradition??? NO! You are in my Croatia and you talk with some freak in Hvar island (who is fascinated with marshal Tito - a "great hedonist" - the man who slaughtered half of Croatia, only if you said "I am Croat"!!! - not to mention other "hedonist" thingies he did!!!) instead with local fisherman or old folks who could tell you some very very interesting things about Hvar's history and legends.
One of the very few interesting sequenes, where you get the "smell" of previous M.P. films, is the one in Turkey or Ukraine, but that almost about it!
Oh, and I have to mention that meaningless conversation in "Deleted scenes" where he is talking with two grils who make chocolate in Latvia. A big question mark!!!
Michael, if you getting too lazy for the real things, please stop, before you give your past work a bad name!
In Amazon UK I gave this film 3 stars only because great photography and a few good sequences.
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