David Thompson
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September 29, 2008

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gaffee

Thanks for the videos. Now I won't get any work done at all this morning.

Anna

Love the bit about Venus having a tail like a comet.

alan b

Quality stuff - thanks

The Thin Man

I think this is probably the last strand of BBC Documentary making that was produced with a true "science" agenda. Made now, it would unfortunately spend most of its screen time discussing the CO2 output of rocket engines and expositions of why astronomy is bad for the environment.

The Natural History department now includes at least 15 minutes per hour of discussions about how evil man-kind and is and how, by our very existence, we blight the "natural world" (man, to these fools, is of course somehow supernatural).

The last 7 series of Horizon, for example, seem to have been directed and written by the Social Studies Dept. of the University of East Leftwingshire or some-such.

A real shame, because BBC Science programming used to be truly World-Class.

David

“The last 7 series of Horizon, for example, seem to have been directed and written by the Social Studies Dept. of the University of East Leftwingshire…”

Spot on. I honestly can’t remember the last Horizon programme that was halfway decent, let alone outstanding. It seems there’s now a determined effort to strip out any content that might be regarded as “difficult” or overtly cerebral. Instead, science programmes are most often framed in terms of some middlebrow social concern – obesity, foodstuffs, climate change, etc. It’s all rather touchy-feely and gutted of real intellectual content. I’d guess the assumed audience IQ has dropped by at least 20 points, probably more.

It’s egalitarian television: You won’t get much out of it, but no-one feels excluded.

apotheosis

Along with Connections and the UK version of Planet Earth (the Sigourney Weaver narrated domestic release just isn't the same), The Planets is one of those rare documentary series that bears repeated watching.

David

Channel 4 used to have a regular science series called Equinox and some of the programmes were pretty good – i.e. they actually had some scientific content. Now it has generic middlebrow one-offs about horribly disfigured people, animals or climate change.

Anna

Animals AND climate change - that's the real winner.

The Thin Man

I always remember a scene from the Disney movie "The Barefoot Executive"

A TV executive tries to sell his latest program idea to the Chief - it goes something like:

"People love shows about Abraham Lincoln, right? And they love shows about Doctors, right? And they love shows about dogs, right? So we give them - Abraham Lincoln's Doctor's Dog!"

This is, I suspect, the basic process that gives the green light to much TV output and it is based simply on the premise that TV shows should be about what is popular.

I suspect that in BBC terms, this "pitch" would now be more like:

"People should feel really guilty for f*cking the natural world, right? And having economies that work, right? And for the fact that there are poor people, right? So we give them "The Earth is going to rise up and destroy you, you no-mark developing world murdering spiv!"

Which I suspect was the working title for "The Earth:Climate Wars"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00djvq9

And in looking for the link to the program I found a course at the University of East Leftwingshire that should produce many, many suitable BBC Science and Nature executives
http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/bin/p12.dll?C01DU311&KWCAMPAIGN=zed_environStudies&keywordid=ggluk_Earth_in_crisis

David

“Earth in Crisis!”

Ah, from the Department of Bombast and Sky-is-Falling Studies.

“Animals AND climate change – that’s the real winner.”

Heavily anthropomorphised meerkats endangered by man-made global warming. Sort of “Watership Down” meets “The Day After Tomorrow”. That’s the way to go.

Steve in San Diego

I have a huge carbon footprint. I'm getting a woody just thinking about it.

Can't compete with a typical elitist envronmentalist though, e.g. Al Fuckin' Gore. We're talking factor of ten here. My woody is gone.

(Sound of slide-whistle descending to lower frequency.)

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