From War-Torn to Re-Born (Docu-Series Review: “Rogue Trip”)

Legendary ABC reporter Bob Woodruff teams up with his son in a trek to far-flung & former strife-ridden lands for an enlightening glimpse at how they’ve been transformed.

SnapShot Plot

In 2006, the war in Iraq almost took the life of acclaimed journalist and co-anchor of ABC World News Tonight, Bob Woodruff. Embedded with the Iraqi army, he and his cameraman were riding in a tank that was blown up by a roadside bomb. Woodruff suffered a severe brain injury from which his prognosis was dire. His recovery was anything short of miraculous, through which he had to re-learn how to walk and talk, aided in no small part by the help of his wife, Lee and their four children. And although the dashing Tom Cruise lookalike did try to return to his desk at the helm of the network’s nightly news broadcast, it became evident that issues with memory and word capture had diminished his ability to resume his previous career completely.

Flash forward all these many years and Bob Woodruff is back, not in a network news capacity but as the co-star/co-host and executive producer of a wonderful docu-series he’s done with his oldest child, Mack entitled Rogue Trip. Through a collaboration with National Geographic, this 6-part series (on the Disney Plus platform) takes the father-son team deep within far-flung lands whose country names evoke images of war, chaos and danger. The series begins deep in the Amazon Rainforest of Colombia, followed by indigenous tribal areas in Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, Pakistan’s Swat Valley and Shangri La, the illustrious charms of Lebanon, and ending in a surprising glimpse of Ukraine highlighted by a visit to Chernobyl. But rather than dwelling on the Past as Prologue, the show is unabashedly determined to show us the resilience of these countries’ peoples, the beauty of their cultures and landscapes, and their efforts to move past their conflicted histories and into a present-day filled with optimism for future generations. Along the way, we join Bob and Mack on their breath-taking adventures, newly forged friendships and unforgettable experiences over the course of four months of globe-trekking travel.

Parting Shot

As its name implies, Rogue Trip is a different kind of travelogue, one which instead of mining the familiar global tourism spots, here goes headlong off the grid and beyond the headlines to discover something fresh and new. Directed by Jackie Baskin, Nick Capote and Jeanmarie Condon, the show delivers the right mix of mostly adventure/discovery, counterpointed against the father-son relationship subtext. It’s not that the dynamic between Bob and Mack is unimportant; indeed that bond, as it deepens over the course of the filming, is rich and quite emotionally involving. It’s rather that the production was wise to make the Woodruff Family story a sub-plot rather than the main course. The focus of the show is the remote peoples and lands that have suffered the glare of a news media machine which couldn’t (or wouldn’t) reflect anything other than their most grim headlines of suffering and violence.

On a more symbolic level, Rogue Trip is a show about Second Chances. As Bob Woodruff states in the show’s opening credits voiceover, he wanted his children to see the world as a thing of beauty rather than to approach it from a fear-based perspective, given his own near-death experience and its impact on his family. Much in the same way the subjects of the show’s travels have worked to resurrect their countries and cultures to reflect the beauty inherent in their own histories and to try to pave the road ahead with possibility and hope.

Rogue Trip is presently streaming on Disney Plus.

Check out this enlightening ABC News feature promoting the series:

Norma’s Streaming Picks is proud to partner on a fantastic site for Baby Boomers, Midcentury/Modern (presently known as Pandemic Diaries) as well as right here at home. I invite you to go there for more great content!

YouTube Trailer:

ABC News Feature on Rogue Trip:

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