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TV Review: Why size matters for Dallas

Supersized Earth (BBC1) -- Midweek (TV3): "It's a small world," as they say. Last night, Dallas Campbell endeavoured to confirm the truth of that lazy phrase. Indeed, he triumphantly concluded last night's episode of Supersize Earth by declaring that technological developments have turned "all seven billion of us (on planet Earth) into next door neighbours."



It doesn't seem too long ago that you'd have to bust a gut to get around the world in, say, 80 days. Not now. These days getting from here to there and back again, possibly via the North Pole, is as easy as, well, Santa and Rudolph.

Sadly, neither featured in Campbell's whistle-stop odyssey.

With a hop, skip and a jump, the intrepid presenter breathlessly explained how, "We're making the impossible possible."

So, out go the elephants, camels and Sherpas. And in comes stuff like gi-normous deep sea freight carriers, huge cargo planes that carry big passenger jets in their hold and what Campbell calls "the world's fastest bus" -- the Soyuz rocket that ferries astronauts to space stations that hover 250 miles above us.

Strapped to a replica of a Wright brothers proto-glider, a helmeted Campbell bit the desert dust and reminded us that this sort of wacky carry-on kick-started air travel back in 1903. But you had to have your wits about you as he quickly switched tack and zapped us, Dr Who-style, with stats about roads. Britain has a quarter million miles. China, biggest of all, has built almost 50,000 miles of highways in the last couple of decades, complete with tunnels, super-highways and suspension bridges that are the highest and longest in the world. Luas Line D, anyone?

I was crap with Meccano, so while the shots of Campbell inching along the rickety walkway of a super bridge under construction over the Yangtze River were impressive I was actually more intrigued to see a sticker of Winnie the Pooh stuck on the steering wheel of a Chinese delivery truck.

Supersized Earth is a neat, if startling, concept. Dramatic factoids about container traffic (16 million boxes in transit each year), robot cars (in development), oil rigs bigger than Buckingham Palace (being hoisted onto even bigger transport ships), convinced me to ask for a Transformer toy this Christmas.

From China to Mexico to Wales to Newfoundland to Seattle, Campbell underlined his thesis by stacking up enough air miles to warrant at least a few golf clubs.

His dizzying continent-hopping made gad-about Michael Palin seem as energetic as Trapattoni on Croagh Patrick.

Two phenomena have gripped imaginations worldwide. Vampires and serial killers.

On Midweek last night, Nora Owen skipped the Twilight saga and went straight to a man described as "the Beast of Baltinglass". Larry Murphy's not the sort of chap you'd want to meet on a dark night.

One young woman who did wound up beaten up, kidnapped and raped by him. Larry was attempting to murder his victim when he was spotted by local men.

Sentenced to 15 years in jail and, having served nine years, Murphy was released in August 2010. Since then his movements have been closely monitored by Leitrim crime journalist Paul Williams, who pops up when least expected.

Murphy, who has never answered questions, never shown remorse and never taken counselling, remains a suspect in the disappearance of three women.

There was a lot of studio chat, a bit of history and a bit of hidden-camera footage of Murphy in Amsterdam with a pal, who we were informed is a convicted rapist he met in jail. Nora and Paul were joined by a criminologist and a forensic psychologist for a general discussion. Murphy's crime predates the sex offender's register so, we were told, he can live in the Amsterdam suburbs as "Mr Anonymous".

Just when I was expecting to see Murphy being doorstepped by Williams, Nora shut down the debate. "Coming up after this, Louis Walsh," she announced, perhaps feeling the need to treat viewers to a good news story and, as some have remarked, Louis' supersized new hairstyle.



Supersized Earth 4/5

Midweek 2/5


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