I've been hearing about this series for ages, so a week or so ago I got myself the full 10-episode "special edition" and have been watching the episodes since. Just finished the 9th, and didn't bother with the 10th as it seems to be simply a recap.
All in all, I think it was a lot of hype, and not much delivery. The trip was definitely very cool, and I loved seeing the parts of Ukraine and Russia (being from Ukraine myself it brought up some nostalgic feelings), and how the locals throughout the trip were so helpful and hospitable.
What I didn't like was that this felt more like a TV show than a real ride. From the get-go, I thought it was pretty funny that the guys wanted sponsorship from a bike company to get free bikes. I mean, I've never heard of the Charlie guy before, but Ewan Mcgregor has been in some major movies and I'm pretty sure he can afford a $20,000 GS1200 without having to resort to begging. Furthermore, throughout the whole trip the series seemed to focus more on talk between Ewan and Charlie than anything else. The whole time the guys were trying to be funny, and let's face it, they're not. I would have loved to see more "riding" videos and less talk.
Can't say I was thrilled about them having two support trucks throughout the whole trip. This seriously took away from the "real adventure" part of the trip. They always had that safety net in the back, and for me, not having that net and having to rely on yourself and the guys you're riding with is half the trip itself. Another thing is all the training (survival, martial arts, etc.) they took before setting off... I can see why they did it, and I agree that it didn't hurt, but that just added to the "fake" feeling this whole trip had.
What these two guys did was awesome and, no doubt, very challenging, but it's not something any of us non-millionaires can do, which makes it seem like another far-fetched movie. The whole thing seemed like a show. I've honestly gotten much more excited from reading ride reports on here and advrider.com.
To make matters worse, neither of the guys stuck me as good riders. Just... the way they were riding... at times it seemed like they were completely clueless as to what they were doing. And what was with the whole switch to street clothes instead of riding gear once they landed in Alaska? Did all those falls throughout Mongolia & Russia teach them nothing?
The best thing I took away from it was probably the challenges they faced through Siberia. A "round the world" trip is something I can definitely see myself doing (time & finances permitting, of course), and it's great to see real challenges of the trip - puts things into perspective.
I've got The Long Way Down also sitting on my hard drive, and I'll definitely watch it, but colour me unimpressed so far.
Oh, and I've grown to really despise Charlie over these nine episodes. The guy is a pretentious prick with no personality, and is constantly bitching about people after the fact - when they're not around to hear. Asshole.
Sorry, had to vent.