Kirven Blount
March 16, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Made in America” and ”No Reservations”

Which uncle would you rather travel with, the pleated-pants guy who digs deep to find his stalest jokes and waxes rhapsodic about ”good old-fashioned American know-how,” or the renegade who drinks and swears and says Mount Etna’s ”vent-clearing phreatic explosion” sounds like ”a proctological complaint”? These Travel Channel series helpfully offer both options. In John Ratzenberger’s Made in America (Unrated, 433 mins., 2003-04), everyone’s favorite Cheers mailman takes us on four discs’ worth of edifying trips through various factories and the histories of the iconic products being assembled, but the catch-in-the-throat rhetoric (”Pride of workmanship — there’s nothing that beats it”) is as achingly square as you’d expect from a Reader’s Digest-sponsored production. Meanwhile, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (Unrated, 342 mins., 2005) is all about going beyond the pale, and the celebrity chef/author holds nothing back. He kvetches frequently, even about being involved in an ”insipid television show,” but gamely consumes everything from Vietnamese porcupine (called squeasel” by his guide) to a concoction called ”ass juice” in a bar in Vegas. Uncle Tony, please! Made in America: C+ No Reservations: A-

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