Spider vs. Bee

Matthew Chatfield (aka The Virtual Ranger) makes some observations about the stylistic differences in presentation between nature programs on the BBC and on American television (specifically National Geographic):

And yet both clips were superbly photographed, both accurately explained some quite complex information, and both clearly provided good entertainment to their viewers. So why are they so different? . . . To The Ranger’s British eyes, this American clip seems almost patronising and childish in its presentation. And yet the content is little different; the difference is purely stylistic.

This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed time and time again.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy content on Discovery Channel and NG and others, but as The Ranger notes, their productions always seem to value drama and flash over forthright delivery of content.  I often find myself literally yelling at the teevee to STOP DUMBING IT DOWN.  For a 1-hour program, that’s 44 minutes of screen time for maybe 18 minutes of actual Scientific Content, with the rest of it being flashy CGI, poorly staged re-enactments, and dramatic voiceover filler1.

Given a choice between investing an hour of my time in a BBC program2 or an American equivalent, I’d take the BBC offering pretty much every time3.

  1. I can hear Peter Coyote intoning “Will man ever set foot on the Red Planet? Will our children colonize the stars?” Seriously, bleh.
  2. Horizon, for example.
  3. With the exception of perhaps Nova, but even that show is starting to lose a bit of luster.
posted 7/30/08 at 10:07am to Science!, Teevee · 0 replies · permalink

Returning to X

In anticipation of this summer’s new X-Files movie1, I’ve been revisiting the show on DVD.

Let’s just say that I don’t think season 1 aged very well.  Oh, those 90s clothes and haircuts.  I just can’t get over the horror of them.

Anyway, I think I’m going to start getting more selective, and watch either the mythology arc with all the “Monster of the Week” episodes trimmed out, or do it the other way around.

  1. Yeah, I was one of those “X-Philes” people back in the day.
posted 5/8/08 at 10:51am to Geekery, Movies, Teevee · 0 replies · permalink

The World is Just Awesome

Terrific new promo spot for the Discovery Channel:

Granted, I think many Discovery Channel programs tend to have too high a ratio of production value (flashy graphics and melodramatic narration) vs actual content (you know, science), but this commercial still gets me all tingly and makes me feel good to be a wonder junkie.

(Adding, I’m gonna have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.)

posted 4/16/08 at 5:52pm to Science!, Teevee · 1 reply · permalink

Things I learn from the Discovery Channel

Apparently there are people whose entire job is to literally squeeze the poop out of baby chicks, and somehow determine the sex of the chick by doing so.

Did you know that? I sure didn’t.

I am in constant awe at the amount of crazy shit that I still don’t know about this world.

posted 12/18/07 at 3:21pm to Science!, Teevee · 0 replies · permalink


It struck me just now, out of absolute nowhere, that Dwight Schrute is quite possibly the love child of Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly.

Clearly I need to quit work for the day.  No more Genius will spill forth onto the page when my brain is spewing out that kind of randomness.

[50 bonus points if you laughed without having to Google any of the aforementioned people; 25 bonus points if you knew the names but had to Google photos for the full effect.]

posted 6/8/07 at 2:07pm to Lulz, Snark, Teevee · 0 replies · permalink