May 27th, 2003

sexy max

tv

So I've grown rather addicted to the Science Channel over the last couple years. Over the past month or two, I've mainly been watching shows about space exploration and related topics. I've now seen most of the channel's programming on the topic, so I've started watching the Wings channel. But it seems like my intake of new information has hit a plateau.

I'm starting to get annoyed with redundancy. How many times must I hear how the theory of relativity forbids faster than light travel? Well, about once per day, it seems.

What I need is to level up. I need to switch my Science Channel feed from "novice" to "advanced." Of course, there's no mechanism for doing so, and I'm doubting the existence of much "advanced" programming. With TV, you just can't assume your audience has a certain level of knowledge, unless you've got a continuing series. Perhaps I can find some. Suggestions would be welcome. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as, say, buying a "Cosmos" DVD, because the amount of information regarding all things outer space has made huge leaps since that show aired.

Now, one might say, "You're not supposed to get all your knowledge from TV, you idiot!" and suggest that I read a book. Well, I might. One benefit of watching all these shows is that I'm becoming familiar with the cast of characters. Anytime the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence is even hinted at, Seth Shostack appears. Michio Kaku makes frequent appearances whenever any nonexistent but theoretially possible technology is discussed. Bob Zubrin is the man for all things Mars. I'm becoming a big fan of Gene Cernan, who's not an author (as far as I can tell) but who was actually on the moon, so they often talk to him about moon stuff. But anyway, these are a bunch of names, many of whom have written books that I could, and might, and at least once have, read. So there is that option. But this raises the question, are books really a better way to learn than TV? For some things, obviously, yes. I'd hate to try and learn math from TV. But authors usually write from one perspective, and while the better ones try to consider other perspectives, it's hard to gauge how successful they are in presenting those.

It would be much cooler to see these talking heads actually talk to each other, rather than appear in between computer animations narrated by Shatner. That would make a great Science Channel, Level 2. It could survive on a much lower budget, as they wouldn't have to pay Shatner or commission animations. Just get Shostack, Kaku, Zubrin et al together in a room, with a suitable spacy matte painting behind them, have 'em talk for a few days about questions raised by the level 1 programming, then get some brilliant editor to chop it into a series of informative chunks to be separated by low-budget commercials.

I'm hoping someone who matters will steal this idea, as they did my brilliant idea for a CGI dinosaur documentary. It'd be even better if they paid me this time, but I'm not holding my breath...
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