Famous faces undertaking travels overseas is not a new concept in television. All manner of well known tv and film stars have participated in such series, often sampling the finest cuisine or staying in one of the top hotels.
Enjoyable as these shows can be, we’ve seen it all before.
Step forward Down to Earth with Zac Efron then. Zac, known for hit movies like The Greatest Showman and Baywatch does indeed travel the globe, taking in France, the UK, Iceland and Peru to name but a few. However, this is a travel series with a difference.
Firstly, it’s made by Netflix. So the budget is visible on screen meaning you get to see the destinations in their full glory. Big sweeping cinematic shots, incredible scenery and first class production means the locations look fascinating in themselves, before you add in any content.
And then to the content. This is a travel show with a heart. Zac and his co-traveller Darin Olien clearly have a genuine interest for learning. Their curiosity goes way beyond the kind of banal questioning we’ve become accustom to this kind of show. They’re interest lies in issues of sustainability, engineering and science.
This is what really sets this series apart. Without any sense of being contrived and without ever patronising the viewer, Zac and Darin meet people of interest, asking questions which naturally tell us more about the world we live in and how these individuals use their skills and knowledge to make their environments work for them. In Iceland for example, we see them making bread which is cooked in the earth, due to the high temperature of the sand beneath their feet.
In the series, we also hear about the close relationship between food and medicine.
There’s real skill required to make a documentary series that doesn’t preach and actually also doesn’t bore the viewer, but there was so much to learn and enjoy within Down to Earth, the producers have definitely mastered the art.
As for Zac himself, he’s clearly a switched on and curious dude and for all of his experience in the movie world, he actually could be any one of us visiting these places – excuse the cheesy pun but he’s as down to earth himself.
The whole thing is warm, funny, informative and inspiring. More please.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron is streaming now on Netflix.