In the DMZ between the end of the Summer Olympics and the start of Sunday Night Football and the fall season, NBC has dropped in the sometimes surreal Better Late Than Never, which starts its four-episode romp through Asia run on August 23.
Leaving all but the loosest of narrative and structure on this side of the Pacific, the William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw-starring reality travel show is, as I say in my video review above, not to be taken seriously but damn entertaining. In fact, in a year where there’s been way too much filler on the Big 4, the one-hour BLTN may be the most watchable network filler of 2016 – which is a feat and a compliment.
Based on the popular South Korean series Grandpas Over Flowers, the Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Jason Ehrlich, Stephanie Chambers, Alex Katz, Tim Crescenti and Winkler EP’d show takes the two actor geezers and the two athlete geezers and sets them loose for a month. Add Last Comic Standing finalist Jeff Dye as the non-AARP sidekick, plus a lot of meals full of pork vagina and other comic-worthy cuisine as the gang travel around Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand.
It’s not Anthony Bourdain for sure but amidst the search for Zen, competing egos, an abundance of almost frat-ish stereotypes and more than a dash of bucket listing and the grumpy and mildly ugly American angle, it is undeniably mostly amusing.
Blessed by a short stint, BLTN lingers just on the edge of getting old but manages to pull back. Part of that comes from the relationship between the Star Trek icon and the NFL Hall of Famer and broadcaster, which is an Olympic feat unto itself.
With the combined age of the main participants over 250 years, Better Late Than Never may never see the light of another season after this initial run. But the Universal Television, Storyline Entertainment, Small World IFT and CJ E&M-produced series does deliver on what its promises in a time of year when the expectations are limbo low – and it got Captain Kirk to Japan for the first time which has to count for something.
So, take a look at my video review of Better Late Than Never above and tell us if you’ll be going along for the ride on August 23.