Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Sad State of the Science Channel

          I wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There's a knob called "brightness," but that doesn't work. ~Zoltan

Well, it's been a while since I've been here, but the state of science programming hasn't improved. In fact, it seems to be completely disintegrating.

It started before Christmas. The Science Channel decided to run a nine-day marathon of every “Mythbusters” episode ever done, in celebration, evidently of dumping the build team and moving to a reboot of the show truer to its “original roots”. Once that was over, the Science Channel turned into the “How It's Made” channel, endlessly showing episode after episode of “How It's Made” ever since. They break up the monotony once in a while with their idiotic “Outrageous Science”. If you haven't seen this disaster, the show consists of videos of idiots trying to hurt themselves, with supposedly science-oriented commentary. When they don't embarrass themselves with that, they show UFO nonsense.

This ain't science, gang.

As to the Science Channel, they seem to have lost their entire budget for new programming. “Outrageous Science” has to be cheap to put on, while the UFO shows can't cost much either. Keep in mind, these are the guys who used to show programs on string theory, Brian Cox's various “Wonders” series, and a lot of other really interesting shows.

It's not that “How It's Made” is a bad show. It's just that one can only watch so many factory processes (while wondering where all the people are).

The increasing number of UFO's-are-being -covered-up and Aliens-built-civilization shows are equally disturbing. History2 seems to dedicate a couple of nights a week to the nonsense of people claiming flying saucers are everywhere, and little green people built the pyramids. History seems to be mostly “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars”. As an aside, I always wonder if the people who sell stuff to the Pickers ever watch and see the massive markup these guys are appying to the product on resale. No wonder they never seem to visit anyone twice.

At any rate, you see one old Penzoil sign, you've seen them all.

Ironically, the aforementioned “Mythbusters” is now shown on Discovery, making it the only show that doesn't involved gold prospectors, fishermen, or Alaskan idiots (NOTE: since I first wrote this, they seem to have moved to the Science Channel). Sadly, the new show is a pale imitation of what it once was. Evidently, due to budget overruns, they had to sell their newer facilities and are back in the original site, known as M5. They also seem to go to lengths to show that they have little or no assistance, even setting their own explosives (when did Jamie and Adam get licensed to handle TNT?).

The entire focus of the first three programs was TV and movie debunking. To give you an idea, the first show featured physics from “The Simpsons” including a huge water-filled foam Homer Simpson tied to a wrecking ball slamming into a house, thus proving that a huge water bag can reduce the impact of a huge wrecking ball.

Say what?

The last program involved video games, including trying to see if you could really carry all those weapons first-person-shooter characters carry. They “proved” that if you're in really great shape you could do it. Of course, they guy couldn't effectively switch weapons and basically just used his last one to do the job. And he didn't try to reload any weapons. And the baddies always waited until he got organized with whatever he just picked up before attacking. But, they felt good, so that's all that matters, right?
Somehow, this doesn't feel like the original shows did, which actually involved myths and misconceptions.  Unless, that is, your entire world is made up of movies, TV, and video gaming.

At any rate, returning to the “How It's Made” channel, the irony is that this sad state of affairs (which people are screaming about on Science Channel's Facebook page) comes as Discovery has begun to brag endlessly about all the wonderful channels it has. I haven't been to their website to count up the channels, but just looking at their ad, it appears they own everything except Turner and ESPN channels. Well, that's probably a small exaggeration but not much of one. To further the irony, Discovery now brags how it's working with schools to encourage science education, calling on Kari Byron, who's out of a job with them to hype their participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education programs . The more they brag, the worse their programming gets.

Well, as long as the kids don't watch any actual Discovery axis programming, they might learn something.