Each of the six episodes in National Geographic’s “Rogue Trip” begins with dramatic archival footage of ABC news correspondent Bob Woodruff surviving a roadside bomb in 2006 Iraq, having his skull opened and now, years later and recovered, on the road with his son Mack.
“The idea was I wanted to show my son these places he’d seen on television and give him a more positive view of the world,” Woodruff, 58, explained.
“Rogue Trip” visits countries whose reputations make them unlikely tourist hot spots: Ethiopia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Colombia and Ukraine.
For many, this is the first time they’ve seen the former ABC News anchor since he was nearly killed.
“The way I explain it is,” Woodruff said, “in the beginning you’re extremely happy when you wake up. You’re alive and have a loving family. After a couple of weeks you begin to realize, I’m not the same guy.
“I had aphasia (a reading, speaking disorder) and to this day have memory issues. The words and letters get twisted around. That leads to deep depression and fear.
“At that moment, I did have the thought I’d never be able to report again. And the reason I did this particular series for Disney+ is, as bad as it looks, it will go up. You will have recovery. You won’t go back to 100% of what it was in days of glory. This will not last forever.”
Mack Woodruff celebrated his 28th birthday in Colombia’s Amazon. Only instead of a birthday cake, he ate wiggly wormy things.
“What I ate was date palm weevils, they’re the larvae of this insect and they’re really nutrient packs of energy. ‘Chewy’ is an understatement.
“Honestly,” Mack added, “I don’t know if I would have done it without a camera there.”
“Rogue” was physically demanding. In three months’ filming, Mack noted, comfort “over all, was an all-time low. In Ethiopia, we were covered with bed bugs. In Colombia, two of our cameramen woke-up with a bug infestation where the sun doesn’t shine.
“Yet I’ve never felt the world is a dangerous place and I should stay close to home. That’s entirely due to my dad.
“When he came home and had nearly been killed, he never blamed the Middle East. He’s a guy who doesn’t hold a grudge — he doesn’t have that in his heart.
“I think that’s the main message of the show, so many places as Americans we’re brought up to think of as scary. But as my dad said, ‘The people there could be the same as us.’”