Karl does his best Bear Grylls impression.
The fourth episode in the second series of Karl Pilkington’s “The Moaning of Life” aired on Sky 1 on November 3, 2015. Here is a review from the forum’s own essentialatom…
Ever since he nearly choked to death on a Mr. Freeze ice pop as a child, Karl Pilkington has had a tense, stand-offish relationship with his body. He doesn’t like to check his balls; he doesn’t “like the feel”. He claims that once “kicking his height” has left him with a bad back for years. Though he defends it, he is occasionally forced to admit that his head is abnormally round. He isn’t even sure that he controls his body at all, with his eyes, ears and brain all responding independently to disturbances while he’s just trying to relax. So there ought to be some mileage in a Moaning of Life episode all about the body.
Fortunately, it does end up having something to say – but it takes a long, long time to get there.
An early piece on urine therapy sets the bar low, with Karl meeting a Kolkata man who drinks and washes with his own urine on a daily basis. After some gawking at his antics, Karl eventually gives in and takes a sip of his own, freshly-produced vintage. If we’re meant to see urine therapy as something of value practised by another culture, that’s contradicted by the utterly unconvinced group of Indians who, no doubt echoing the Sky audience, are much more interested in watching Karl imbibe his wee than learning about its supposed benefits.
Similarly, Karl’s encounters with exercise in Iceland’s sub-zero temperatures and giving up food for the Sun’s “cosmic energy” offer nothing of substance, although to their credit, nobody drinks piss.
The episode livens up at the halfway mark, with Karl trying out a prototype bionic backpack that allows for longer reach and greater strength. Despite the machine’s current limitations, he can see its potential to help people – at least, until he considers that it would give builders another excuse to get no work done, and then it blows up.
The best segment is Karl’s experiment with blindness, in which he wears a blindfold and spends a day shadowing a blind man named Kobayashi. Karl struggles to handle the world around him, nearly eating a flannel that he mistakes for ham, rendering Kobayashi’s resilience and determination inspiring. As Karl tells us while his host is halfway up a rock wall, he doesn’t want a guide dog. He wants to do everything the hard way. When they say goodbye, Karl tells Kobayashi, “I don’t know how you do it”. It’s touching.
The episode ends on a pleasant visit with Professor Frank Chinegwundoh, who previously broke new ground by examining Karl’s prostate gland. This time, he’s getting his balls checked – yes, those same balls that he’s forever been so reluctant to approach. Having been given the all-clear, Karl hops off the bed with a smile on his face, commenting that he gets a buzz from knowing he’s healthy. It’s the same unexpected happiness he exhibits after his “small face therapy”, after which he holds himself with a new pride and believes there’s been an improvement to his looks. It’s a lovely segment on which to end the episode…
… but it just wouldn’t be a true Karl Pilkington show if he didn’t leave us asking why we need a spare testicle but only one heart.
If you’d like to comment on this episode or more, check out our thread on “The Moaning of Life” in our forum! If you’d like to see essentialatom’s film review blog, “Writing About Film”, you can click here!