When I heard of the series, I had to watch. Stanley. Livinstone. Africa. Four modern day explorers. What's not to love?
First off, I have to say this may well be Mark Burnett's best "reality series" ever. I mean, he's done some remarkable stuff in terms of the Eco-Challenge series, but this is by far the best stuff he's done so far.
The production on the series, at least in the first episode, was remarkable. Maria Baltazzi should be complimented and praised for her work on the series. Great stuff, great shots, great footage, great epic feel.
The first meeting between the four explorers was an excellent sequence in the episode, and the personalities of these four people came out quite early. The conflicts between Benedict Allen and Pasquale Scaturro was one that I hadn't expected, but that promises to make the series interesting. We'll see how things go with that.
The sequence with travelling by boat from Zanzibar to Bagamoyo was, for me, a sequence that highlighted a lot of stuff. I found it interesting that none of the four explorers had any skill or real knowledge of sailing. I guess one can't learn and know every skill, hmm?
While the boat trip to Bagamoyo was dangerous, I have to wonder whether this was exaggerated at all. I suspect it wasn't, given the images that we saw of the trip and the water, and it certainly made for some early dramatic viewing.
The business with choosing the porters was one that I watched with real interest. I don't think I'd given the subject of porters and bearers much thought, but the four explorers made it very clear during this selection process the importance of this step, and that became evident during the later travel through the mangrove swamp.
I think that so far, Mireya Mayor is my hero(ine) in the series. She's a wildlife expert, but I have to say that I was terrified for her when she confronted the spitting cobra at one point. That is one cool lady under fire, and it's good to know she knows her limits and has an excellent understanding of the African wildlife. I'd hire her to be my wilderness expert and guide, no questions asked.
I would have thought it was obvious, but... When planning an expedition into Africa to follow Stanley's trip, make sure all the expedition members have adequate water for two or more days. Pasquale was absolutely right about this, but he seems to have been vetoed on this. Definitely cost the explorers.
The trip through the mangrove swamp... Aside from it being muddy and filthy, and (I suspect) smelly, the muck looked...uggh! I really didn't envy the explorers during this bit, nor the camera crew. In addition to that, the walk through the mangrove swamp was, to put it mildly, one that really tested the four explorers and their party. The losing of Kevin Sites at one point highlighted the dangers of the mangrove swamps, and certainly brought some excitement to the first episode as well.
Overall, the opening episode of Expedition Africa was one of the best supposed reality shows I've seen in a long time, and certainly lived up to my expectations. An excellent group of people chosen for the expedition, fascinating storyline, beautiful and exotic locales, and... Really looking forward to next week's episode, and seeing how the explorers do and whether they can complete the trip in just 30 days.