Men In Kilts Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Food & Drink

Movies/TV

There was never any doubt that Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish teaming up for a Scottish adventure would be amusing.

Men In Kilts Season 1 Episode 1 dropped us right at the beginning of their country-wide tour as they got into the small RV and set out on the first leg of their journey.

Starting with food and drink, the duo ate and drank their way around Scotland.

There are not a lot of examples of shows like this to compare with Men In Kilts. But, I have a couple that might do the trick.

Graham: A land that is cut through with locks and rivers and valleys and mountains that altogether weave like some kind of tartan kilt.
Sam: Oh, I knew you were going to go there. That was beautiful.
Graham: Into a beautiful fabric which is called Scotland.
Sam: Scotland!

The first isn’t well known in the states. UK actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have a series of travel films that they star in, which features them galavanting around various places, mostly tasting the splendors specific locations have to offer.

Their love of food takes you right into the moment with them, as they eat and discuss everything from employment to love. The entertainers play exaggerated versions of themselves, leaving the truth behind to relish the food and the scenery.

Sam and Graham seem to be themselves here. After chatting with them, I didn’t get any impression that they were playing roles on their journey. They don’t dig into their personal lives, either, so it’s easier to be a part of yourself, that part you’d like to share with the world, at least.

We’re likely getting Sam and Graham lite. They’re amusing together and obviously enjoy each other’s company. They take little jabs at each other but genuinely enjoy the time they spend together.

The other comparison would be Better Late Than Never, an NBC program starring Henry Winkler, William Shatner, George Foreman, Terry Bradshaw, and comedian Jeff Dye. They visited one location on a regional journey each episode.

That’s the better comparison, and the sheer pleasure of watching those men get acquainted with areas they had either never been or never fully explored is what I was hoping for from Men In Kilts: A Road Trip with Sam and Graham.

Men In Kilts is close, but there is something niggling at the brain — It’s too short.

On “Food & Drink,” Sam and Graham hit Tom Kitchin’s restaurant for lobster, scallops, and lamb, went fishing for shellfish with Captain Kirk (Doig) in Fife, had a gloriously prepared meal outdoors by Tony Singh, and wound up in Islay digging peat and rolling in barley at the Laphroaig Distillery.

Graham: A land that is cut through with locks and rivers and valleys and mountains that altogether weave like some kind of tartan kilt.
Sam: Oh, I knew you were going to go there. That was beautiful.
Graham: Into a beautiful fabric which is called Scotland.
Sam: Scotland!

All of those locations had a special appeal.

Tom Kitchin’s, well, kitchen had amazing food. As much as I love scallops, I’d never seen a scallop in the shell before, and how Kitchin prepared it and served to Graham was unique.

Sam: So, thanks for having us, Captain Kirk. If you could take us back to shore, that would be great. Make it so.
Graham: Make it so? Seriously? Have you been waiting all day to say that?
Sam: Yeah. I love Star Trek.

Sam was trying to be on his best behavior with Captain Kirk, and he was so out of his element on a fishing vessel that his humor was crackling. It’s hard to imagine having so much bounty that 90% of the catch is reserved for other countries.

Sam: Well, thank you very much for taking us out, I’m very excited to-
Graham: Eat them.
Sam: [to the bounty] I’m excited to try some of you guys. You look, uh, delicious.
Graham: You didn’t have to say that to them. You could have kept that quiet.

Tony Singh, who kindly shared some of his time and recipes with us for a cook-along event premiere party, took advantage of the great outdoors with a one-of-a-kind set up near the shore.

Sam: I’m loving this. We should do a cooking program!
Graham: All we’ve done is cream some butter and grind some coriander. It’s not exactly Michigan Star stuff.

The isle of Islay was slightly different because while Sam and Graham had heretofore allowed others to do the work and serve them when it came to the whiskey, Laphroaig Distillery owners put them to work in the peat bog before they got their first wee dram.

And how much of this bog would you like us to finish before we actually get our whiskey?

Sam

That is a lot to jam into a 30-minute segment, and I feel it would be more enjoyable in a slightly longer format. Whether that would be a full hour dedicated to their multiple locations or fewer locations each segment, I’m not sure. Either would probably work.

The premiere almost feels like a teaser of what’s to come. The haste with which they visited each location reminded me of Vacation’s scene when Clark hurries his family away from the Grand Canyon because time is of the essence.

I was almost embarrassed for Tom Kitchen, who had no sooner delivered his delectable dishes than Sam said they had to hit the road! Graham, like me, wondered why they weren’t spending more time there.

The urgency to get from one place to another and get as much into the episode as they could didn’t account for much conversation between Sam and Graham, let alone between them and their hosts.

Sam and Graham have brief moments of introspection on screen, but not enough to get a genuine feel for either or the leg of the trip they’re on. Granted, they did spend a bit of time introducing themselves to an audience that might not know why they’re together so that future episodes could feel less rushed.

Both men have sparkling personalities, and their love of Scotland radiates throughout their journey. But I feel a lot was left on the cutting room floor that could have given more flavor to the people and places they visited and why those places were chosen for the food and drink leg of the journey.

Maybe the idea is that people want to get the most for the least amount of their attention in a social media world. But this isn’t Instagram, and when an opportunity to tour places unknown is afforded to us by gentlemen and charming and clever as Sam and Graham, I’d prefer for them to linger a bit longer.

What did you think of the premiere? There’s no doubt that Sam and Graham have the right dynamic for a travelogue show, but did we get the best they have to offer?

I’d love to know what you think, so please share your thoughts below!

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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