I doubt that when people get home after work today, download the new Disney+ app (if it works), and start perusing a century’s worth of content that anyone’s first landing place is going to be The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a new documentary series that debuted today along with the launch of Disney+. And you know what? That’s OK. Watch those old Gummi Bears cartoons from your youth, or Disney’s collection of Shia LaBeouf’s formative year films, or The Search for Santa Paws and its sequel, Santa Paws 2: Santa Pups, because The World According to Jeff Goldblum could hardly be characterized as necessary television. At best, it’s a lazy-Saturday-afternoon-drool-on-your-pillow series, but honestly, isn’t that what most of Disney+ already is? They hardly needed to create a new series to satisfy that itch.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum was actually developed originally for National Geographic but was reduced to a Z-side offering on a streaming platform with 1,000 other movies and TV series because Nat Geo didn’t want to hurt its brand with what is essentially a vanity series. Do you learn anything new The World According to Jeff Goldblum? Only in the vaguest sense. Do you get to spend a lot of time with Jeff Goldblum? Yes, yes you do!
That’s a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about Jeff Goldblum, even before his weird defense of Woody Allen. He looks great in photoshoots! He has a great aesthetic! He’s fun in scene-stealing roles in huge movies. But are we going to be that enthralled with his autobiographical approach to the various topics he explores on the series, like tattoos, ice cream, and sneakers?
The logline for the series promises “astonishing connections, fascinating science, and a whole lot of big ideas,” but in the first episode, Jeff Goldblum mostly marvels at how expensive sneakers are at a SneakerCon, chats with a sneaker engineer, plays basketball with some sneaker enthusiasts, sits with a sneaker designer who designs a pair for Goldblum based on his background, and creates an unboxing video with a YouTube star famous for unboxing sneakers. “It’s all about the anticipation,” Goldblum says before purring for about the 17th time in the episode while pawing a new pair of sneakers. Goldblum essentially takes us through the life of a sneaker, from its creation to its purchase to its unboxing, and the only “big idea” behind the first episode, anyway, seems to be “capitalism.”
If there’s one thing that The World According to Jeff Goldblum is good for, however, it might be in the way it diminishes the mystique of Jeff Goldblum, who inserts his own life into as much of the documentary series as he can. “Oh, you like basketball? Because I had an uncle who liked basketball, and I look a lot like him. Here look at this picture. See?” Cool story, Jeff. Now please go back to feigning shock over a $1,000 pair of sneakers while “bopping” around in an outfit that costs more than a used sedan.
I’m not saying that a documentary series not hosted by Jeff Goldblum would be a better series than one hosted by Jeff Goldblum, because this series would be verging on unwatchable without Goldblum. It is perpexlingly thin on “astonishing connections” and “fascinating science.” What I am, saying, however, is that Jeff Goldblum’s charms can only do so much to paper over the superficial material, and that those charms can quickly wear thin. Goldblum approaches life itself like a woman half his age he’s trying to sleep with, and that’s part of the appeal of his movie characters. However, in the context of a Disney+ documentary series? Goldblum’s creepy-charming vibe slips ever so slightly toward the creepy.
Header Image Source: Disney+