Monday, August 18, 2014

Don't Drive Here: Must See TV


The scariest TV I've watched this year?
It's the series Don't Drive Here which returns for Season 2 on Discovery  Monday August 18 at 10 p.m.
I sat down to watch the first new episode after a frustrating day commuting around Toronto and getting stuck nearly everywhere.
Then I watched Don't Drive Here and I felt , well, safe.
Host-creator Andrew Younghusband literally outs his life on the line in the first hour which shows us the hazards of being a driver in Nairobi, Kenya.
"I felt scared a whole lot," he explains. Several times he seems to be close to serious injury.
"And yet it's the kind of situation where the people there accept it and go about their business."
The statistics are startling: 10,000 deaths a year from traffic accidents, most of these  could be preventable.

It's simply something about the culture of the place and the gritty determination of the city inhabitants  to survive.
One thing I instantly noticed: there are few female drivers in Nairobi which Younghusband chalks up to cultural differences. "Look at the crowds of pedestrians everywhere and there are plenty of women. But you are correct: there are few women drivers."
Younghusband isn't just the host, he's an active participant in all forms of transportation in the over crowded city.
He starts by showing how virtually everybody jaywalks --between speeding trucks, around buses in motion or delivery boys on bikes.
"It's beyond scary," he says. "But it's the only way for many people to get around."
And he tries every form of transportation before he's done. One turn on a bicycle has him matched against a one legged cyclist courier who lost a leg when he was just a kid.
Yet, he seems to have no ill will, he just accepts his condition and gets on with it --and he's the fastest cyclist around.
As I watched this consistently exciting hour I kept wondering about the camera crew who must record every exploit of Younghusband.
"They were in even more danger than I was," he laughs nervously. "We have two  cameramen, a producer who also films, a sound guy and a researcher and a fixer who sets scenes up. They focus on what I'm doing which makes them extremely vulnerable."
As crazy as it looks there wasn't a set up shot in the whole hour.
"It's so exciting out there we have no reason to create more excitement. It's all happening as you watch."
In other episodes Younghusband ventures to Sao Paulo, Brazil, "where the delivery boys have 10 fatalities a week.
"In Rome they allow kids of 14 to drive, now that is frightening."
In Ho Chi Minh City there are bikes fitted up for up to six riders".
In Bolivia's La Plaz  a new cable car system is the largest in the world.
Says Younghusband :"I thought we might run out of cities after about 18 hours. I think we can easily hit 36 hours because every city is different. It's a subject that fascinates everyone. We all think we live in a city with bad transportation --then look at this series !
"I've had some mighty close calls. I just get caught up in the situations. We have insurance but I don't want to know anything about that. I've taken a lot of risks, an awful lot."
MY RATING: ***1/2.

No comments: