Science on TV – Having Your Say

Recall that I told you about the pilot for the upcoming show Wired Science in an earlier blog post. It airs today, (Wednesday, January 3) on PBS. It was made by KCET here in Los angeles, and as you may recall from the post, in August I learned some interesting things about the context in which the show sits. It is rather interesting. It’s all part of a head-to-head competition, or “experiment” as PBS are calling it.

You see, there are two other shows being piloted on PBS over the next couple of weeks too. One is Science Investigators, made by WGBH, Boston, and the other is 22nd Century, made by Towers Productions (I think). They are three different takes on a science TV show format. The casting, scripting, presentation… all these things vary a great deal.

They’re really trying to come up with newer, more accessible formats, with the aim of getting science out there to the general public. This is a great thing. Only one show will “win”, sadly. The prize is the go ahead to make more episodes, and have them air on PBS. The judges…. this is the important part… The Judges are YOU. Go to the PBS site and tell them what you think of the shows. Either wait until they air, or stream them directly from the site now and watch them on your computer. (More about the selection process in this article.) From the site:

Watch and Weigh In

Here’s the experiment: Throughout January, PBS will broadcast three new science programs. Only one program will become a regular science series on PBS. We want you to help us decide. Watch the programs on your PBS station or, beginning January 1st, visit the companion sites below to watch each pilot show. Then tell us what you think!

You get to have your say1 in how PBS shapes some of its science programming, and how programme-makers shape their future formats. Don’t miss the chance. It does not come along very often!

-cvj

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1Oh, and of course, it would be great to hear your opinions about the shows (and the process) here as well, in the comments. We can have quite an interesting discussion, I’m sure!

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7 Responses to Science on TV – Having Your Say

  1. Supernova says:

    I just caught a bit of “Wired Science” and was surprised at how staid it was. The hosts were all dressed very conservatively in dark colors and speaking in very level, measured, newscasterlike tones. None of this is bad, per se, but I guess I was expecting something a little more flashy and fun. If I weren’t already interested in science, I’m not sure I would have wanted to keep watching. I really want to like this show, but I think it could use some more energy.

  2. Plato says:

    I remember when you wrote Tales From The Industry, IX I got sniped a lot 🙂

    This was interesting to me because the experiments somehow can transcend a lot of language. A person like me, ill prepared, and seemingly off the mark :), I indeed struggle to be clear and appreciate this “intuitiveness transferred.” I think, this is part of our evolution.

    I like PBS because of the format and the way in which they have brought the subject of science that may seem obscure and abstract(the scientists who discuss amongst themselves), down to a level that is quite inviting to the general public.

    So good work, and a deserved recognition to bringing the simple experiments a greater vitality and message to the public.

    On another note.

    Helioseismolgy and WMAP. Related? A “imaging speculation of the bird Phoenix,” about the sun spitting/oscillating/hatching out the neutrinos in a particle showers and kascading 🙂

  3. nc says:

    Regards the three shows, the Wired Science pilot is a bit like BBC’s Tomorrow’s World (which I starred on for, about 3 seconds, in 1986 when I was 14). It’s just too 80s. I’m a nerd but this is a kind of patronising nerdiness (which is probably why Tomorrow’s World sank after bossy, teacher-type presenters were recruited near the end). The only people interested in the subject will know enough to not need the slow, simple delivery, and the outsiders watching may offended by being spoken down-to. It’s far too slow spaced, and sounds endlessly like chunks of an old encyclopedia being read out over stock footage with a few experts giving their views. It’s not exciting enough.

    Science Investigators is even worse: Prof. Michio Kaku’s explanation of knuckleball problems in base ball is about the most most boring piece of physics. It makes string theory drivel seem exciting by comparison! The whole thing is too slow. There’s not enough information being delivered per second. The shots are all too long and boring. No interest, certainly no excitement or enthusiasm to watch more of this.

    22nd Century is much better. It makes the other two look like amateur student productions. It’s professional, it has an exciting story, it grabs your attention. It doesn’t linger on stupid presenters making boring speeches. Although I’ve no personal interest in the subject, the programme quality makes itself worth watching.

  4. spyder says:

    I am with Supernova on this one. For a group that purports to represent what is happening in the forefront of science, and one that is connected to Wired, the hosts were not at all what i expected. I have watched Bay Area tech shows over the last couple of decades (before i moved to the northwest) and they were much more interactive and “fun” while still heavy on the science and technology. Maybe since Wired is an LA production they thought they needed to give it “pro” values.

    There is a show on the asian television networks that focusses on new technologies and what is in the pipe heading our way. It is much more entertaining, informative, and fun. Science on TV needs to be fun, otherwise we could just watch the NASA channel for updates (and yes i watch that too, and enjoy it greatly).

  5. Clifford says:

    Thanks everyone! Keep the comments coming. I hope you guys are telling the PBS people these things too, over on their site. Links in the post. They need to know these opinions.

    -cvj

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