Our Man In Italy
House of Pain
Really, Really Nice Cheese
If you haven’t been to Italy, you’re missing out. This is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, from the sun-drenched shores of the Amalfi Coast through to the bustling, tourist hub of Venice, all the way over to the fashion capital of Milan, Italia e molto bella!
After the success of 2020’s wonderful Our Man In Japan, it was perhaps inevitable that James May would return for a follow-up season. And where better to showcase than Italy. Traveling from the Southern tip of the island of Sicily up to the northern snowy mountains of the Dolomites and beyond, James May brings his usual wit, charm and humour to 6 joyous episodes.
For those familiar with Our Man In Japan, the format here is largely the same, which is perhaps unsurprising given this serves as season 2 of the ongoing “Our Man In” travel docu-series. However, those who haven’t seen that series a quick summary will probably help!
James May travels through different cultural and historical hotspots (and hidden treasures), mixing in historical facts, interviews with locals and experts, as he dives into the culture and experiencing everything Italy has to offer.
From canoe polo and dressing as a gladiator across to creating glass, there are a litany of different activities that James May gets involved in along the way, helped along by a different guide that follows James May every episode. This works quite well to allow a different person to riff off James’ style of humour and it keeps the series engaging and enjoyable.
There’s certainly a meta feel to this documentary, including some clever bits of narration from James himself, referencing past events in other episodes or adding small but highly effective cutaway montages or bits of expository text to keep the humour flowing. And that’s before mentioning the cutaway screens of maps or quirky Italian to English word translations that serve as “chapters” to break up each leg of the journey.
The key ingredients (unlike James May’s disastrous Full English Pizza) to any successful travel documentary comes from a charismatic host, interesting facts and some breath-taking views of the area. Our Man In Italy has all of this, and tops it off with some self-referential and meta jokes that’ll never fail to get a laugh.
Much like Our Man in Japan, this is a fantastically enjoyable watch and whether you’ve been to Italy or not, James May explores everything this beautiful country has to offer and does so across six highly enjoyable episodes. In what’s otherwise been a rather dour month of TV content, James May: Our Man In Italy is the perfect sun-drenched treat.
Verdict - 8/10