In 1990, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the Dirk Gently books, traveled the world with Mark Carwardine to see the hyper-endangered species before they died out. While Adams was on this trip, Stephen Fry house sat for him, jealous of the adventures his friend was going on. From his experiences on this voyage, Adams wrote Last Chance to See, a truly remarkable book. In 2001, Carwardine was on the phone with Adams planning a second go around to check back on all their endangered friends to see how they were fairing ten years later. The next day, Adams died of a heart attack. Now, Mark Carwardine and house-sitter Stephen Fry retrace the steps of the adventure 20 years ago. The video series Last Chance to See is that story.
As much as Fry was jealous of Adams’ trip, he is more a man of creature comforts than of creatures. Where Carwardine can’t go more than a few days without seeing a dolphin, Fry can’t go a day without electricity. He is immediately inconvenienced by the inability to charge his cell phone. He tries to invent a more effective way to wear a rain hoodie, which defeats him. If you picture of Billy Crystal in City Slickers with a battery-powered coffee maker on a cattle drive, you’ve got the right image.
To make matters worse for Fry, Carwardine warns him of all sorts of dangers in the wild, including fish that swim into your willy if you pee in the water, piranhas, and poachers who will kill you in your sleep. Ultimately, it is not these things that bring about Fry’s downfall but instead a misstep in exiting a boat, causing Fry to break his arm in three places. He is rushed to Miami to be reassembled. Carwardine stays behind in South America to watch a healed baby manatee named Peachy, who’d been harpooned and rescued, be sent back into the wild.
Fun fact: Manitees have a conveyor belt-like teeth system that slides all their teeth forward, little by little, until eventually the first one pops out and new back ones grow.
Episode 1 was very enjoyable, and I look forward to seeing more.