Maybe it’s me, but it seems like a new streaming service launches every week. I’m already subscribed to seven or nine of them, so I had zero plans to sign up for Apple TV. But then, a few weeks ago, I saw a commercial for an Apple tv show called “Long Way Up” and I immediately knew I had to watch it.
The series stars friends actor Ewan McGregor and TV Presenter Charley Boorman. Both have been on similar adventures before in “Long Way Down” and “Long Way Round,” but I didn’t know that going in but now would like to check out. Anywho, the first episode of “Long Way Up” informs viewers that the friends drifted apart once Ewan McGregor moved to Los Angeles due to his film career. This changed a couple of years ago when he got a call letting him know that Charley was in a near-fatal bike accident.
However, if you think “Long Way Up” is a show all about motorcycles, you’re wrong. This is a show about friendship, and two old friends rekindling their relationship. The nearly fatal accident is what brought the two back together. Eventually, they decide to bring back the “good old’ days” by making a 13,000 mile, across 13 countries, from the tip of Argentina to Los Angeles… in electric motorcycles.
Something I liked about the show is how it took its time building to the 13,000-mile journey. We learn about Ewan and Charley’s past adventures, how they drifted apart and reunited. Then we see the planning of their trip as the two friends travel all over the United States and Europe to find the right equipment. And I mean everything from what type of bikes they’ll use, to what cars their support team will drive. There’s even a funny scene in which the two attempt to learn some Spanish basics. I found all of this interesting, but I have to admit I kept wondering how much this all cost because I doubt Harley Davidson donated the motorcycles the two guys use.
It was also interesting to see how emotional Ewan McGregor gets when talking about Charley’s accident. He mentions how it made him realize what’s important in life, and how he (and everyone) must do a better job at keeping friendships alive. Meanwhile, Charley’s recovery is amazing to see, and his determination to get back on a bike as soon as possible is incredible. He says, yeah I had a bad accident, but I can’t wait to get back on that bike.
But the duo’s main challenge is of course the fact that they are making this journey on fully electric bikes and vehicles. As we see during the first few episodes, this proves to be extremely difficult, at one point getting stuck in winter weather with zero charges in their bikes. While this adds drama to the series, it also gives Ewan McGregor a chance to open up to the camera. It turns out the famous actor had the same fears any of us would have if we attempted the same trip.
But maybe the best part of “Long Way Up” is seeing how many locals come to their aid. In the first couple of episodes alone see regular people letting Ewan and Charley use up all their power to charge their bikes, and even opening a small hotel to accommodate the team for the night. Normally I’d say this happened because a movie star was among them, but in most cases, I don’t think they knew who Ewan McGregor was. And in a year like 2020, it was nice to see there are a ton of good people out there. Also, it seemed like Ewan and Charley both enjoyed meeting everyone and learning about them and their home.
In my 42+ years, I’ve only been on a motorcycle twice and didn’t enjoy either time. So the world of bikes is foreign for me, but “Long Way Up” never made me feel like an outsider. You don’t have to be motorcycle enthusiast to enjoy this series, because at the end of the day “Long Way Up” is about two best friends reuniting by doing something they love.
“Long Way Up” grade: A