By Ken Tucker
Updated December 16, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST
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Legendary Trails

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  • TV Show
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A new travel series, Legendary Trails, premieres this week with a marvelous episode, ”The Gift of Incense.” Narrator-host Emma Freud notes that at every Christmas pageant she has attended, someone always asks, ”What’s frankincense?,” and so this British journalist (and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud) sets out to answer what she calls ”this vital Christmas question.” Journeying from Arabia to Jerusalem — the two-and-a-half-thousand-mile frankincense trade route to the Holy Land,” as Freud calls it — she finds her answer among the Bedouins, who harvest the exotic spice. Between sips of Coca-Cola and bites of fresh-roasted goat (”It tasted like it looks”), she watches as laborers use stones to chip away at trees and collect the gummy substance ultimately burned as incense. Throughout, Freud’s wit is as dry as her brow is damp: She is willing to present herself as anything but an experienced traveler — lumbering by Jeep through 120-degree temperatures, she says, ”I get very short-tempered when I’m hot.” But her humorous frankness is what makes this trek such informative fun. Upcoming episodes of Legendary Trails will include ”The Way of St. James,” following a Catholic pilgrimage that extends from central France to northwest Spain, conducted by the terrific English novelist David Lodge. At last: a reason to watch PBS again. A-

Episode Recaps

Legendary Trails

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  • TV Show
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  • In Season

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