Michael Portillo kicks off nationally televised journey in Twin Cities. Photo courtesy of BBC
Monday's edition of PBS's "Great American Railroad Journeys" could easily be subtitled, "Twin Cities For Dummies."
In this one-hour episode, premiering at 9 p.m. on TPT, Ch. 2, host Michael Portillo, a former member of the United Kingdom's Parliament, pulls into Minneapolis-St. Paul for the first leg of a trip along the Mississippi River. But while Portillo talks a lot about choo-choos, he ends up spending more time on foot than on the tracks.
The first-time visitor is over-the-moon about his packed agenda, if not overwhelmed. He seems thrown by something called a "root-beer float" at Mickey's Diner and swoons over the Cathedral in St. Paul, seemingly forgetting his European home has quite a few regal churches of their own.
It's a fast-paced, no-duh documentary for anyone who has lived more than two months in Minnesota or ever cracked open a copy of "The Great Gatsby." But stick around for the final 10 minutes in which Portillo gets on board a Hiawatha luxury train docked in NE Minneapolis,a ride that may be foreign to even Twin Cities veterans.
Portillo's Midwest adventures continue next week with a trip from Red Wing to Portage, Wisc.