Review: ‘Outside with Greg Aiello’: In 2 near/far places filmed, show crew can’t ditch smog

There is a new, locally-produced show in the Fresno area and it airs on the local Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate. The show’s name is: Outside with Greg Aiello. Aiello hosted another television program called Motion and this one aired on one of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) networks.

Great Western Divide, as seen from Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

Through the magic of television, the viewing audience is afforded the opportunity to be right there alongside Aiello – an outdoorsperson in the truest sense of the word – on each and every outing, be the place visited on familiar turf or well off the beaten path; quite honestly, some of the latter, not for the faint of heart. Courtesy of Aiello and his production crew, viewers are treated to places as remote as the Himalayan Mountains, Patagonia, and the ones more familiar such as San Francisco and the Marin Headlands, The Majestic Mountain Loop, Yosemite National Park and California’s Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), the ones I’m aware of.

As a viewer (and reviewer) I appreciate Aiello’s subtle, and at the same time, infectious sense of humor, the kind that he has a tendency to inject into self-narration from time to time. The reference to the “white sand beach” along a patch of shoreline located on the bay that shares its name with the City by the Bay – that’d be San Francisco – immediately comes to mind.

Throughout much of the show is dubbed-in music; music which is highly appropriate and most certainly adds character. From this reviewer, this production gets a 5-star rating – hands down.

Interestingly, Outside with Greg Aiello is produced by his brother, Jeff.

So, air-quality-matters related, there are two episodes worth special mention.

The first is the one profiling the Majestic Mountain Loop. This episode is interesting in the sense that three national parks – Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite – are covered in as many days.

So, this episode begins in Visalia – a town located in the central San Joaquin Valley – about a 45-mile drive south of Fresno on California State Route (SR) 99.

Meanwhile, after having hoofed it some on the streets of Visalia, it is into the transporter (that would be a motor vehicle) for a drive east along SR 198 which ultimately brings the show’s host to Sequoia National Park’s south entrance.

There are various places visited in the park and one in particular is a trail upon which Aiello walks with the vast San Joaquin Valley off to the west in the background. Interestingly, the viewer would never know this without the aid of Aiello’s voice-over which brings this information to bear. This is because the Valley as it were, is shrouded in a cloak of haze, a haze which otherwise goes by the name smog.

Such to me is totally expected. I made a similar trip years ago and experienced the same thing myself.

Perhaps it’d be one thing if the Valley’s smog problem was contained in the Valley. Unfortunately, it’s not. In fact, Sequoia National Park has its own smog issues and on occasion, when Valley air is good, Sequoia’s is not.

Furthermore, and if memory serves me well, after traveling the Majestic Mountain Loop and ending the journey and episode in Yosemite National Park, there is a scene whereby, presumably, Aiello, while driving through a tunnel, arrives at the park’s southern entrance on SR 41. It is here, by the way, that the viewer is able to pick out in the distance the unmistakable landmark that Half Dome is. However, it too is somewhat masked by what looks to be smog. The fact that Yosemite National Park is visited by 20 million people annually – again if I have my facts correct (and, of course, by motor vehicle) – doesn’t help matters.

Which brings me to the Himalayan Mountains special feature – special feature on account of the show’s airing length: one hour. It should be noted that a half-hour, on the other hand, is what is typical for a regular episode.

It is not too difficult to see why Aiello traveled to Nepal and environs to capture on film this most interesting and at the same time unusual locale.

In Nepal’s capital city – Katmandu – there is the typical hustle and bustle so common in big-city life. In no uncertain terms, the show’s narrator makes reference to the smog that pervades the city so. It seems like everywhere filming in this metropolis took place, motor vehicles and motor scooters dominated, which, of course, would explain the smog.

Long story short, escaping the din and pollution the city is fraught with, Aiello heads for the higher country.

This is an Outside with Greg Aiello episode not to miss. In one town shown, it is amazing how the people in this extreme high-elevation community live, the locals treated daily to stunning, breathtaking views and, if that wasn’t enough, not a single car in sight – anywhere! It is unlike anything I have ever seen before.

It is Aiello, along with his brother Jeff and the whole production crew plus the local PBS affiliate (and of course the television and the electricity that provides power) that I have to thank.

On a closing note, I just wish that in the places featured in the two episodes reviewed unsightly smog did not enter frame. Though that is indeed idealistic, it is nevertheless possible; possible with appropriate changes made.

Wishful thinking such may be, but, someday, hopefully.

Note: Article updated on Sept. 24, 2017 at 10:12 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Image above: National Park Service

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