The latest History Channel reality series from Thom Beers ("Deadliest Catch," Ice Road Truckers") is Jules Verne's classic adventure with a twist. "Around the World in 80 Ways," premiering Oct. 2, challenges two guys — "Survivor" winner "Boston Rob" Mariano and Dennis Anderson, the man behind the wheel of the Monster Truck Gravedigger — to circumnavigate the globe using 80 different forms of transportation, not repeating any of them as they travel.
Following an eastward course, "We started in the dry lake bed outside of Los Angeles and we traveled 30,000 miles through 10 countries, four continents, through Peru and Brazil in South America, to Africa — Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania — up into the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia to Thailand and back to the United States," outlines Mariano. Over the course of the ten-part series, their 80 vehicles included everything from a blimp to a fighter jet to a hot air balloon and a zip line, and even some living modes of locomotion, including an elephant, water buffalo, camel and an ostrich-drawn chariot. There were even some green forms of transport, including a solar-powered car driven in Northern California and harvesters that ran on ethanol in Brazil.
Anderson's mechanic skills came in handy fixing the occasional breakdown, and the über-competitive duo would race each other along the way. "It wasn't like there was a prize at the end of it. It was more about pride," says Mariano, an "adventurer at heart" for whom "it was a no-brainer to do this show. His past TV experiences were good preparation. "That competitive 'Survivor' nature is always within me. 'Amazing Race' gave me a foundation for traveling, but it's predetermined locations and a scavenger hunt. With this show, we were free to do what we wanted to travel around the world. The biggest difference between those shows and this show is that there's not a million dollar prize at the end of it. We're not racing to a destination. It's more about the journey, the interaction between Dennis and I, and celebrating the history of transportation."
For Mariano, the "80 Ways" highlights included New Zealand and Africa, where he'd like to return with his wife Amber and two daughters when they're a bit older. While he has "some projects on the table," he plans to stay home and spend time with them for a while. His two-year-old is already aware of recycling, he reports. "She knows there are different barrels for different things."