The other night while spongeing off the 24 hour entertainment system otherwise known as my mother's Foxtel subscription (one day I'll get my own, I swear), I came across the hour-long pile of toss that is Spain... On the Road Again.
It's basically a weekly instalment of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and American superchef Mario Batali's Spanish holiday, in which you get to watch them fart about in various wineries and restaurants while you sit at home on the couch with a cup of Lipton's considering how dull your life is by comparison.
If you've ever been invited over to a friend's place to watch videos of their last overseas trip, you'll know what this is like. Only this is worse, because (and I'm only guessing here) your friends probably weren't paid thousands to zip around the countryside in a Mercedes convertible eating at $300-a-head restaurants and being squealed at by starry-eyed villagers.
Gwynnie and Maz aren't alone in this curiously unnecessary endeavour: there's also food writer Mark Bittman, who spends most episodes wandering around looking pleased with himself (well, why wouldn't he?) and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols, whose sole job on the show seems to be flirting with Mark and translating everything that anyone says in an effort to prove she's useful and not just there to look gorgeous.
Speaking of gorgeous, that's something Mario Batali definitely ISN'T. A less attractive man would be hard to find. It's hard to imagine a fat, ugly, ginger WOMAN ever getting a TV show of her own, let alone one in which she got to hang off the arm of a couple of hot young Hollywood hunks, no matter how great a chef she was (and it's fair to say Mario Batali is one of the world's best).
It has also occurred to me that nobody on the interweb has yet made the following, completely obvious, comparison:
Spot the difference.
French and Saunders fans will of course remember Jen's delightful "dirty old man" character, but for the uninitiated, try this:
But I digress.
Spain... On the Road Again clearly wants to be quirky and fun, but instead of making you want to visit the country on your own road trip it somehow manages to take its delicious food and gorgeous scenery and make you annoyed about it all.
Apart from the very idea of two size zero starlets eating their way through Spain while saying things like “I'm going to gain 10 kilos on this trip for sure!” being completely repulsive (and FYI, 10 extra kilos wouldn't hurt, Gwyneth), watching a group of smug, rich mates repeatedly toasting each other and stuffing themselves with paella and chorizo just isn't very fun.
I'm sure in the early planning stages of this show it was pitched as “four famous friends showing the beautiful landscape and rich culture, food and wine of Spain” rather than “four mates getting pissed and having a good time on someone else's dollar”, but you know what they say about good intentions...