“Dhani Tackles the Globe”
Mondays at 9 p.m.
Travel Channel

Courtesy of Red Line Films

2 out of 5 stars

The student body at the University of Michigan is comprised of the “leaders and best,” and alum Dhani Jones is no exception. Jones helped the Wolverines win a football national championship in 1998, and he is currently a linebacker on the Cincinnati Bengals. Though Jones has achieved a lot in his football career, his career as a TV host needs a lot of work.

In his show, “Dhani Tackles the Globe,” Jones goes to a foreign country to experience the culture and food and, of course, to check out the local sports. One episode sends Jones to Switzerland to learn about the country’s national sport: schwingen. Though the Swiss assure Jones that schwingen is an intellectual and strategic sport, it’s really nothing more than wrestling in sawdust — the only catch being that players aren’t allowed to let go of their opponent’s pants. Throughout the episode, Jones trains, immerses himself in Swiss culture and eventually flaunts his skills in a schwingen tournament.

Because all of Travel Channel’s programming is very similar, “Dhani Tackles the Globe” stands out among the monotony. It’s a smart move for a travel show to use sports as its grabbing gimmick. It’s also a welcome change of pace. Travel aficionados and sports enthusiasts alike can enjoy the culture and history exhibited in obscure sports from around the world.

Though a show like “Dhani Tackles the Globe” is a clever way to attract a broad audience, Dhani Jones might not have been the best choice for a host. He has no idea how to conduct an interview, even an informal one. Whenever the conversation lagged, Jones reverted back to one question: “Will this help me with my schwingen?” He was always answered with a blank stare, which he attributed to a language barrier. But clearly, the answer meant “how would milking cows / playing an alphorn / eating fondu / yodeling / wearing traditional Swiss attire / making meringue help you with your schwingen?” Jones really needs to work on his casual conversation skills.

After playing in many high-pressure games in the National Football League, Jones shouldn’t think much of a folksy schwingen tournament. Even so, the man takes sports very seriously and does all he can to increase the drama of the game. His warm-up routine is filmed with close-ups from various angles and he gives a dramatic narration of what he’s thinking (“If I don’t do this, no one will”) to heighten the audience’s anxiety. His concentration is unfaltering during play, where he pouts over a penalty call. Dhani Jones is quite possibly the only American to have ever argued with a schwingen official.

The locations are exciting and the sports are fascinating and obscure, but Dhani Jones’s lackluster ability as a TV personality makes “Dhani Tackles the Globe” a laughable project. A successful host is engaging and not afraid to make fun of his or her situation. Rather than taking the games so seriously, Jones should fashion his hosting style after Mike Rowe of Discovery’s “Dirty Jobs,” who makes awkward interviews funny. Maybe Jones will calm down and come into his element as the season progresses. But until then, all we know is that a raging Wolverine and a friendly game of schwingen don’t mix.

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