1 9 9 0 (USA)
6 x 30 minute episodes
This offbeat short-run mid-season comedy series from CBS starred New York standup comedian Lew Schneider as Donny Cogswell, a 28-year-old yuppie who quit his job as a Wall Street stockbroker and headed off to backpack around Europe.
He made first-person videos of his travels and sent them back to his ex-girlfriend Janet (Leah Lail), his family, and friends in the US.
In one episode, Donny visited Paloczfoldvar – the Hungarian village where his grandfather (Sándor Szabó) grew up – and discovered that his family name was equivalent to a curse there.
In another, he ran out of money and got a job as an au pair in the South of France. He sent that videotape to his former babysitter.
Donny’s journeys were filmed entirely on location using a lightweight hand-held video camera and were deliberately intended to look homemade, with out-of-focus shots, slanted angles, and sudden cuts.
After spending six weeks filming in Europe, director Bob Altman and the crew spent a week in Westport, Connecticut, in a former aircraft factory where they shot the recipients’ reactions to Donny’s video “Letter”, plus the final episode in which he was jailed in Eastern Europe somewhere between Albania and Macedonia for stealing his own camcorder.
Tom Riis Farrell
Paris | Budapest | Barcelona | Marrakesh | French Riviera | Balkans