The primary few photographs of the CNN documentary sequence Stanley Tucci: Looking for Italy seize a very good chunk of the present’s attraction: Stanley Tucci, carrying sun shades and a classy go well with, strides by way of Naples as automobiles and bikes rush previous him. After years of cultivating a picture as a intercourse image with out ever coming throughout as unapproachable, he looks like the proper host for a meals and journey present. After all we’d wish to carouse and break bread with Stanley Tucci. Although the specter of a sure coronavirus might sometimes slip into the body and jar viewers out of the fantasy, the sequence reveals Tucci to be not only a great actor and a potent thirst object but in addition a considerate, charming host.
Every of the present’s six episodes focuses on a special a part of Italy. The primary covers Naples and the Amalfi Coast, and from there they journey to, so as, Rome, Bologna, Milan, Tuscany, and Sicily. In every area, Tucci does his finest to get off the crushed path, interesting to the locals and previous associates to steer him to true culinary gems. What units Tucci aside as a bunch is that, not like a lot of the abilities tasked with shepherding viewers by way of totally different components of the world, Tucci, regardless of being of Italian descent, isn’t essentially an knowledgeable. Those that watched him confidently blunder toward a Negroni might have realized this already. (Although that will require taking one’s consideration away from his forearms and directing it as an alternative towards his strategies, and lacking the purpose.) He encounters nearly all the pieces with an open sense of surprise, and he permits the individuals he comes throughout to take heart stage. These topics vary from a Jewish chef whose specialty, deep-fried artichoke hearts, has all the pieces to do with what was usually out there to the town’s poorer Jewish group, to a nonprofit restaurant born from a collaboration between native activists and a group of Neapolitan and Romani ladies. It’s apparent that Looking for Italy’s focus isn’t simply on what individuals are consuming and the way they make it, but in addition why, a query that’s key to any good meals present.
From the soar, nonetheless, it’s clear simply how unusual it’s to be watching, and making, a meals and journey present—a style whose fundamental components embody going locations, assembly new individuals, after which consuming round them—in the course of a pandemic. Although 4 of the six episodes have been filmed previous to the COVID-19 outbreak, the primary and third episodes have been filmed after Italy’s first wave. The truth is, the primary episode opens with Tucci commenting in voice-over that it’s exhausting to imagine that the now-bustling metropolis had simply been in lockdown, and as for what’s and isn’t deemed protected, “eating places are open and masks should not required outdoors.”
Be that as it might, your private degree of consolation in the case of what’s and isn’t protected to do might make watching these two episodes just a little unusual. Masks are on, however solely a part of the time (with some adopting the mouth-only technique of masking), and Tucci and his guides (to not point out his crew) are typically in enclosed areas the place they must take their masks off to eat. Stranger nonetheless is the truth that, other than these opening remarks, there isn’t actually that a lot, if any, dialogue of how the pandemic has affected the individuals Tucci is speaking to, even if Italy was an early epicenter of the pandemic. The present is within the concept of group, but it surely’s not thinking about digging deep into the traumas suffered by these specific communities. To be honest, most viewers, searching for a break from the remainder of CNN’s almost round the clock coronavirus protection, might welcome the break.
Tucci usually communicates how scrumptious he finds the meals by way of mischievous smiles.
Since Anthony Bourdain’s dying in 2018, no new hosts have been capable of absolutely fill the well-worn suede boots he left behind, although it’s not for lack of making an attempt. Tucci isn’t essentially a pure inheritor—Bourdain was a seasoned chef and an knowledgeable in worldwide dishes, for one factor—however the sequence has its personal strengths. Tucci is eminently watchable, particularly when he eats—he tucks into all the pieces, reminiscent of a beautiful zucchini pasta, with enviable fervor, and sometimes communicates how scrumptious he finds the meals by way of mischievous smiles. Although the context of the pandemic makes the present a little bit of a curler coaster when it comes to feeling lulled into consolation by Tucci’s inherent allure after which having elbow bumps reawaken us to the continued disaster, Looking for Italy nonetheless manages to serve up some fairly beneficiant parts of escapism, and audiences up to now appear to be consuming it up: CNN just lately introduced that the sequence was the new No. 1 news show in its time slot. Given the success of this primary season, it’s no shock that the information community already placed an order for seconds. It stays to be seen whether or not we’ll stay this hungry (or is it thirsty?) for this type of counterprogramming as soon as we ourselves can get again on the highway, however within the meantime, Tucci appears to know learn how to fulfill our cravings.