It’s been 12 years between drinks, but finally, we have the third instalment of the Long Way series at our fingertips, and it’s already proving to be a wild ride.
However, is the new show worth signing up to Apple TV for?
Making its debut on Friday, September 18th, the first three episodes of Long Way Up became available for streaming on the Apple TV+ service.
While the move to Apple TV has proven controversial with many lamenting the need to sign up to yet another streaming service in an already crowded market, with a free 7-day trial and a monthly cost of less than $9 we don't think it is a big deal as you can quit the service as soon as the show has finished airing.
The only big downside is to watch on the big screen you need to either own an Apple TV unit (roughly $250) or plug a capable device directly into your TV as casting from your phone isn't available.
The show itself, however, has clearly evolved in the 12 years since the previous production.
Kicking off each episode is the familiar "Long Way" theme song performed by the Stereophonics, albeit with a new verse to include Long Way Up into the familiar tune. It's a nice touch and keeps the show connected with the previous series.
Even the general soundtrack – in the first two episodes at least – throws back to Long Way Round and Long Way Down while also incorporating new tracks fitting with the South American theme of the show.
The structure of Long Way Up remains very similar to Round and Down, with the first episode dedicated to the behind the scenes and planning for the trip before the actual journey kicks off. This was expected as it is a proven formula and establishes the premise of the show and introduces the team in a linear fashion.
While the choice of using electric vehicles for this journey is often stated as "reducing [their] carbon footprint" the amount of air travel undertaken by the team in organising their Harley-Davidson LiveWire motorcycles and Rivian R1T support trucks does seem to offset any gains made on the trip itself, with the team jumping across the Atlantic in a seemingly frequent pace in the setup for the journey.
That aside, the story comes together well and you are swept in to the trials and tribulations of the journey as Charley and Ewan attempt to be the first to undertake the 13,000 mile journey from Ushia to Los Angeles using electric vehicles.
The cinematography itself has lept forward, with Claudio Von Planta returning to behind the camera to accompany Boorman and McGregor while Jimmy Simak also makes a return from the previous series. With the quality of camera technology allowing for much clearer and varying shots the experience as a viewer has certainly become more engrossing.
Establishing shots now utilise aerial drone photography while the on-board shots from the bikes now utilise HD action cameras. We've come a very long way since Long Way Round indeed.
Perhaps the most confronting aspect of Long Way Up is the striking physical deterioration of Charley Boorman since we saw him on Long Way Down.
While both Boorman (54) and McGregor (49) are now well within the "danger zone" in terms of most at risk demographic, Boorman sets a frightening picture for those of us who ride. Having suffered two serious motorcycle crashes since 2016, watching Long Way Up as Boorman waddles about due to the servere leg and pelvis injuries he suffered is a dose of reality to the viewer on the potential negatives of motorcycling.
The new show also retains the biggest point of contention which has seen motorcyclists grumble about the production since the very first iteration in 2004 - the fact that Boorman and McGregor are supported along their ride. While the Director/Producer combo of Russ Malkin and David Alexanian are also experiencing the EV life for the journey, their Rivian prototypes have easily double the range of the Harley-Davidsons and a tech from Rivian along for the ride as well.
No doubt the amount of support given to Boorman and McGregor will once again divide motorcyclists between those who believe the journey is only worth doing if it is done unsupported and the realists who are there to enjoy the ride of a lifetime and be inspired to undertake their own adventure.
Regardless, based on the first three episodes of Long Way Up, it once again looks like the team have produced a brilliantly shot example of adventure travel that has the potential to do for electric motorcycles what the original did for BMW GS sales.
We look forward to the rest of the series as it is released on Fridays to Apple TV+.