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NO SWEAT

Mmmm, mealie and blood ticks

Worlds Apart National Geographic Channel, Mondays, 9 p.m.

October 21, 2003|Susan Dworski

National Geographic jumps onto the reality series bandwagon by sending comfort-loving Americans to remote areas of the world, from Malaysia (Nov. 3) to Kenya (Nov. 10). For example, the Russell family from Birmingham, Ala., got a taste of life as subsistence farmers in the remote village of Lungu, Ghana.

Challenges abound in their host family's mud-walled compound. Self-described "strong and sporty" Alex, 12, balks and barfs at breakfasts of fly-gorged corn mealie and blood ticks. Her mom, Lynne, toils gamely 24/7 alongside tribal, gender-bound Frafra women while dad Scott and 15-year-old R.J. swat cattle and struggle to decipher a violent tribal ritual.

We watch as the Russells unravel and regroup in a moving display of sweaty honesty and innocent American goodwill. Although marred by hyperactive editing and an appalling, chauvinistic score, "Worlds Apart" delivers enough unvarnished, heartfelt moments to make it a standout reality series in an otherwise tawdry field.

-- Susan Dworski

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