Disney+ TV review: The World According to Jeff Goldblum
Ivan Radford | On 25, Apr 2020
What do ice cream, trainers, trees and jewellery have in common? Jeff Goldblum, judging by his Disney+ series, which sees the Jurassic Park star investigate a range of topics to find out more about them. The word “investigate”, of course, should be taken in the loosest possible sense – there’s more in-depth unearthing of truths in your average episode of Scooby-Doo.
“I’m a curious cat,” he declares early on, and you immediately believe him. That’s less because of his headline-grabbing question about LGBT rights within Islam on RuPaul’s Drag Race – which came from a position of cultural bias but also genuine curiosity – and more because of his constant enthusiasm about everything he encounters. Whether it’s a person or an object, a concept or a fruit, he engages with it the only way he knows how – by smiling widely, asking constant questions, nodding excitedly at the answers and most likely breaking into song. While tap-dancing.
That’s the main sell of the show, as the title suggests, and after a binge through the box set, it’s hard not to notice the lack of depth to what is ostensibly an informative documentary. Animated sequences present what facts they are in an entertaining manner, giving potted histories and digestible chunks of exposition, but for those who already know what trainers are, for example, won’t discover anything new.
Rather, the fun comes in Jeff getting excited by learning new things himself – even if he’s only pretending to learn them. He smiles, nods, sings asides to himself, and you can see from every interviewee’s response just how infectious his excitement is. Who else could make conversations about footwear fun? Or charm a navy ship crew with an ice cream flavour named after themselves? Knowingly self-aware yet still undoubtedly convinced that he’s cool, it’s like spending an afternoon with your strange American uncle.
Closer to a YouTube short than a Netflix series, the result is lightweight infotainment rather than a must-see programme, but it’s ideal family viewing for parents wanting to encourage a passion for knowledge and an urge to find out more about the world around them. It’s no wonder that a second season has already been given the green light – Goldblum’s curious streak is wonderfully contagious.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum is available on Disney+, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription or a £59.99 yearly subscription.