By Denise Duguay
I grew up wrestling. Okay, sure, it was against my will and as the victim of my two TV-wrestling-obsessed brothers, who sometimes went by their heroes' names of The Crusher, The Butcher, Dr. X or Mad Dog Vachon of the American Wrestling Association. Although I still have a trick knee from all the figure-four leglocks, I grew to respect the art though certainly not love it. So the idea of a travel show hosted by a wrestler was not my first choice to lead this month's dispatch. However,
Trish Stratus is irresistible even to someone unimpressed by her blond bombshell aspects or the seven World Wrestling Entertainment international championship titles, not to mention three citations as WWE Babe of the Year.
Stratusphere is a new series in which Stratus tours the world in search of physical challenges in cool locations. The first episode, on Monday, showed her in Cochin, in southern India, learning the sword-fighting art called kalarippayat. In addition to participating in two days of training and a final demonstration, she takes viewers on a tour of her amazing digs, the Brunton Boatyard Hotel, helps pull in fishing nets in Cochin harbour, calls an auction of a mound of fresh shrimp in the local market and later tries not to bolt when a street magician suddenly switches to charming a cobra less than two feet away from where she sits. All beautifully photographed. And a bonus: Many of the location and business names appear briefly on the screen. This is a nice touch. So many travel shows flit from one great spot to another with a quickly uttered name in an unfamiliar language, leaving intrigued viewers with no hope of ever tracking it down for themselves, either online or in person.
But the biggest charm to this show is Stratus herself, but you have to be okay with perky. This woman makes the terminally cheery Valerie Pringle seem like a sourpuss. On a walking tour of the Cochin harbour, Stratus sees a cow and gushes, "A cow!" She bounces, she enthuses, she uses words like "chillaxin" and sees no irony in relating, in her narration, how respect must be shown when entering a temple, even though she is entering in a clingy, belly-baring tank top. Oh that Trish! But I must admit it was a fun half hour. With so much dark drama and crime and spy shenanigans on the TV schedule this fall, it's a nice vacation to watch a show that is all sweetness and light. And I suspect a few of you might also enjoy Stratus sweating in a tank top.
Other stops will include Vo Binh Dinh wrestling in Vietnam, bungee jumping in Bali, Indonesia, and paragliding in northen India.
Stratusphere airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on the specialty channel Travel + Escape.