2009 Volkswagen Routan SEnlarge Photo
Remember those Brady Bunch vacation episodes -- the ones always done as two-parters, where the entire family sets out for some remote destination and ends up crushed by a demonic surfboard? Well, Volkswagen and TLC have taken all that grooviness, packed it in a Routan minivan, and sent it hurtling down the highway in a new reality series for the web called "The Great Getaway".
As a general rule, we're not big fans of web-based TV series and their "webisodes" (terrible word, BTW). They frequently end up trying to be something they're not, like a sitcom or TV drama. When they don't live up to our expectations, we stop watching. They also tend to get lost in the internet shuffle, meaning that it's very hard to find them in the first place. But we're cautiously optimistic about "The Great Getaway".
The premise of the show is pretty simple: an average American family heads out for a summer vacation in their Volkswagen Routan. With five children, the Woods clan is probably bigger than most; many families of that size can't even afford to take vacations, and those who can often find the process daunting. But the Woods' kids are well-behaved, the mom is likable, and the dad is, too (though that shot of him eating frosting from a tub is kind of grossing us out). And of course, likable characters are what make a reality series watchable.
Even better, the Routan is made a very soft-sell. (That's a good thing.) Yes, it's prominently featured, but since the series is clearly sponsored by Volkswagen, it's not quite as egregious as "stealthy" mentions on other reality shows -- like, say, when Top Chef contestants "casually" name-check the Toyota Sienna, or when Work of Art participants are asked to design something inspired by Audi. Blech.
Bottom line: we're mostly onboard with "The Great Getaway". Well, apart from the fact that the series' videos aren't embeddable -- evidence of real stupidity on TLC's part -- and the punch-dub commercials that run before each episode. Still, we look forward to seeing more. Fingers crossed that the Woods end up locked in a ghost town jail soon.