I was perusing the internet, looking for something entertaining to watch, when I ran across this article from Whitney Matheson at USA Today talking about “Up to Speed,” a new travel documentary series from Dazed & Confused/School of Rock/A Scanner Darkly director Richard Linklater.  Starring the eccentric Timothy “Speed” Levitch, a former licensed tour guide, the series has navigated two famous cities so far and has given an educational and entertaining look at the monuments and places that perhaps people overlook or never consider when they walk past.

A Look at Hulu’s Up to Speed

The episodes are TV-length and are chock full of entertaining tidbits.  Here’s the second episode, where Speed walks us through Chicago:

Timothy “Speed” Levitch is best known to cinema buffs as the Manhattan double-decker bus tour guide of 1998’s Bennett Miller documentary, The Cruise:


So far, in the trips through San Francisco and Chicago, Linklater and Levitch have done a good job with a series that should get some audience retention.  It floats along between something you might see on mainstream TV and what we recognize as online video, which is apt since Richard Linklater has weaved in and out of independent and mainstream filmmaking his entire career.

While Levitch’s voice will, at first, be hard to overcome, it becomes endearing, and the voice of someone who really knows what he’s talking about.  I really enjoyed his monologue on the 1989 San Francisco “Lola Prieta” earthquake, which claimed the much-maligned Embarcadero Freeway.  It was almost completely destroyed, and discussion began as to whether to rebuild it or not.  Levitch says, “The mayor of San Francisco at the time, Art Agnos, knew the earthquake was right.”  It’s a great spin on something that is remembered for being so terrible, and something San Francisco used to better their city, as they redesigned the area and made it a tourism hotbed.

Give this series a look.  Hulu has some pretty great original shows that are worth a glance.