Former 'Daily Show' Correspondent Has A Cool New History Show On The Travel Channel
Former Daily Show correspondent Brian Unger is hosting new show on the Travel Channel that combines the present with the past to explore a cool piece of history.Unger, who has appeared as The Lawyer on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and on The Daily Show also delved into history as the host of the History Channel's How the States Got Their Shapes. With The Travel Channel's Time Traveling with Brian Unger, Unger told LAist that the show began by holding an old, black-and-white photograph up to a modern-day street in Washington D.C. Looking at the photo and its present-day version brought up some questions. What still exists? What's not there anymore? Using CGI, the show melds time periods together, overlying the past with the present.
"Through a lot of computer engineering and graphics, we were able to blend the two images and bring the past to life," he said.
Then-and-now is a popular way to explore the past. We like Dat Scene, where blogger Phil Grishayev finds and photographs film locations to see how they've changed—or haven't changed. He then inserts himself in the real-life locations in the same positions are the film characters. The app ScenePast allows you to view vintage postcards landmarks, which can then be compared to modern day sites.
On Time Traveling, Unger doesn't just insert himself into the mix of past and present, but also enlists the aid of adventurous locals to explore with him. The locals that time travel with Unger are randomly selected, but must possess certain qualities. Namely, "innate curiosity."
"[The chosen locals] are kind of adventurous, and have a fearless quality that helps us drive the narrative in each episode," he said. "They want to go on journeys of discovery because the show is about showing and involving. We want them to walk through the mud and the water; we want them to climb the hills and we want them to get hit by rain and go through the actual histories we us. So, they need to be a little intrepid."
In Los Angeles, Unger and his intrepid new friends traced the steps of Charlie Chaplin, matching his films to the actual streets of L.A. The Kid, for instance, was shot in a Hollywood alley.
"I learned that Chaplin was like our first guerrilla filmmaker—he would use what was there," Unger said. "When I started at The Daily Show, I would show up and try to come up with comedy and he did the same thing."
One of Unger's favorite trips was to Cape Canaveral, where he said he got to stand on the same launch pads where the Apollo missions were launched.
"As a little kid who grew up in Ohio and thought John Glenn was the coolest guy in the world, that was kind of a cool thing to do," he said. "I felt ver lucky and honored to be there, and I cam away appreciate the work that goes into dreaming up these missions and the construction of these vehicles that will take our men and women into space…When you're that close, you feel history more."
He also mentioned a recent episode where he went to Las Vegas and explored the culture of the divorce ranches. According to Unger, Women would go to Nevada and spend six weeks there, the legal requirement for residency, and then take advantage of the very loose criteria judges there used as grounds for divorce. "[Vegas] became a very hospitable place for women in inhospitable marriages," he said.
The 13-episode show premiered last week with an episode in San Francisco—where they explored the history of the Golden Gate Bridge—and New York City, where they traveled back to 1913 to the construction of first Manhattan skyscraper.
Time Traveling with Brian Unger airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. PST on the Travel Channel. Check out more video here.