By Kevin Price, Editor at Large, USA Business Radio.
CNN’s most popular show — “Parts Unknown” — has a problem. Several in fact. USA Business Radio reports “CNN is in the process of airing the final season of Anthony Bourdain “Parts Unknown” this coming fall. This, after 11 seasons, in one of CNNs most popular shows and it’s presenting the legendary CNN Original Series in a unique way.
“The show was always different among CNN programs. Sure, it had an informational dimension, but it was not a news program in the traditional sense of the word. It was a cooking show with an international flare. With the passing of its host, this leads to a serious void in CNN’s lineup.”
Until I viewed the program, it was just a cooking show. That is until I began watching it. After further review, it is a multi-sensory playground full of fascinating people, with amazing stories, that also enjoy serious food. It is fun for the whole family.
I never watched any of the episodes before Bourdain’s tragic suicide and saw others describe the show like USA Business Radio, as a “cooking show with an international flare,” but upon watching some of the episodes (and now interested in watching them all), this program is much more.
- It is a highly adventurous and even dangerous travel show, going to some of the darkest and frightening parts of the world to bring his stories.
- It is certainly a fascinating cooking show bringing meals from around the planet that are often unable to be found except at these filming locations. Furthermore, his conversations with guests about the food bring descriptions that makes one really appreciate them, even if they never eat them. Again, that observation is by a person who is not a fan of cooking shows.
- The show is also philosophical and political. In addition to visiting with great food authorities, Bourdain will often chat with dissidents or people better known for their political opinion, but are not known for their culinary views. This makes for great viewing for non-foodies like me and explains why it has been one of the network’s most popular shows. The show figures out how to maintain the “golden mean” of being broad enough to attract those who are not passionate about a gourmet focus, but specific enough to make the most devoted foodies, happy.
The cinematography of the program is excellent, making the viewers feel like they are part of the program. Often Bourdain has one on one conversations during the show. It seems to be his preferred way to engage. It is this one on one conversation style, accompanied with an intriguing filming style, that made this viewer feel like I quietly pulled up a chair and was allowed to listen. All the sights, all the sounds, it is a sensing bonanza.
“It is a highly adventurous and even dangerous travel show, going to some of the darkest and frightening parts of the world to bring his stories.”
The show also has a true authenticity to it. There was one scene in the first episode — about Myanmar — that was poignant, sad, and even pointed to a dark future. In that scene Bourdain notes the dangers of a man powered Ferris wheel ride he is observing. He tells his colleague, there is no way he would get on it, because it is so dangerous. Somehow, seeing this in the first episode and knowing how Bourdain’s story tragically ends, made this very sobering viewing. See the video below, take note of 1.00 following.
“Parts Unknown” is a great program. I put it squarely in the “must viewing” department. It is hard to market a show and it not get stigmatized into a certain type. Until I viewed the program, it was just a cooking show. That is until I began watching it. After further review, it is a multi-sensory playground full of fascinating people, with amazing stories, that also also enjoy serious food. It is fun for the whole family.
Kevin Price is Editor at Large of USA Business Radio, he is host of The Price of Business show, which is one of the longest running business programs in the country. He is a multi-award winning journalist, syndicated columnist, and author.