Watching The World According To Jeff Goldblum is a lot like watching Shia LaBeouf livestream his reactions to marathoning his own oeuvre, from Man Down to The Even Stevens Movie. Whatever else is happening on screen is besides the point—the real focus is the response, however outsize or charming it may be. There are certainly some interesting factoids and behind-the-scenes looks sprinkled throughout this new docuseries from Jeff Goldblum and fellow executive producer Jane Root, including a trip to the laboratory of “Shoe Surgeon” Dominic Ciambrone. But as the title (and series announcement) suggests, this show is less about putting the world on a platter for viewers, and more about filtering it through Goldblum’s Goldblum-ness, i.e., unadulterated zeal for just about everything.
Premiering November 12, The World According To Jeff Goldblum is part of Disney+’s inaugural programming slate. It’s a step up from the blatant self-promotion of a new series like The Imagineering Story, which will also be available next week. After all, Goldblum is a veteran of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which was only recently snatched up by the maw of Mouse, and therefore might not fully be a company man just yet. Still, there’s nothing revolutionary or all that exciting about The World According To Jeff Goldblum. Aside from its marquee host, TWATJG could be any of a number of the mostly bland, curiosity-stoking series that make up National Geographic’s schedule (which makes sense, given that it’s produced by National Geographic Studios and Nutopia).
Each episode is devoted to a single, broad topic: sneakers, ice cream, tattoos, and denim, to name a few (of the ones explored in the four episodes made available for review). The approach to every installment is holistic; Goldblum opens with a customized voiceover, experts are consulted, experiments are executed, then the host muses in winning fashion in interstitials. The first episode, which is devoted to sneakers, begins with a visit to a convention, turns into a lesson on unboxing videos, and wraps with Goldblum waxing poetic in what’s become his signature fashion. The World According To Jeff Goldblum does look great, thanks to solid camerawork and the kind of whimsical animated graphs and sequences that have been used to make sprawling points on heavily researched talk shows. The show frequently pauses to let Goldblum take in all the new info—the six-figure bids at vintage denim auctions, learning that he’s a “bopper”—and reminisce on his personal connections to these subjects. But Goldblum also knows when to yield the floor to trailblazers and icons like Shanghai Kate and Archie Kalepa, even if he can’t quite keep himself from mugging in his reaction shots.
Although it’s obvious the actor/jazz musician and his camera crew are granted greater access than most inquisitive folks into places like Adidas’ sport science department, there’s very little here that couldn’t be found out through some deep Googling. But, like Goldblum, The World According To Jeff Goldblum is also self-aware—the show relies on the host’s abiding fascination for everything from ice cream to his fans’ obsession with him to drive the action, such as it is. “We’re like a couple of sticks. This may be combustible,” Goldblum tells a similarly keyed-up Brit Eaton, as they go hunting for some discarded denim. We could easily look up Eaton’s finds, but we’re not likely to find such unremitting delight in the search as on The World According To Jeff Goldblum.