Because I’m a dork, I’ve been spending tonight, like many nights, watching educational television. Sometimes I wish I’d been a scientist instead of a nerd, and as such I watch far too many documentaries. It says something, that Discovery was my favorite TV channel growing up.
Anyway, pathetic dork retrospective aside, I’ve been noticing Discovery and TLC moving pretty far from their roots, with Discovery being the American Monster Chopper House CSI channel, and TLC being the “decorate someone’s house when they’re not around” channel. Even Science, which I still like for the simple fact that it’s the Science Channel - it says science right in the name! - is getting a little dumbed down.
Partly, I think it’s because I’ve seen so many of these shows, and that, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I expect a higher level of information. It’s probably a stretch to think a TV network, even a niche cable one, could cater to an audience expecting my desired level of detail, and actually get enough viewers to pay the bills.
Net Geo comes close. Discovery isn’t even trying.
I watched a couple of shows on National Geographic earlier, including one really interesting one about a fossilized Hadrosaur that still had it’s muscles and organs intact. It was exactly the kind of show that I inexplicably love - dry and in-depth, and it didn’t make any claims or try to make the subject seem any more exciting that it already was. There wasn’t a wise-cracking host, or a Nu-Rock soundtrack, and no part of this made me think it was entertainment. It was entertaining, but not entertainment, and that’s the difference between Discovery and Nat Geo.
Discovery, which I’m watching now because it isn’t totally without merit, and the def is very, very, high, is very much the opposite. I suppose I can’t fault them, since I do actually like some of their shows, but I’m glad Nat Geo is around as a counterpoint. Discovery (and Science, and History, for that matter), seem to enjoy measuring objects in terms of football fields, Empire State Buildings, and trips around the equator, and if they can’t describe something as being the “biggest/highest/most expensive/most extreme in the world”, it’s just not worth describing. It drives me nuts sometimes. I don’t want dumbed-down, accessible docu-tainment. I want boring, hard facts about things, because science and engineering and outer space are impressive enough without having to be eXXXXtreeeeeme.
Anyway, the tl;dr version is that you should start watching the National Geographic Channel. It’s awesome, and it does come in HD.
The guy from “Built it Bigger” really reminds me of my friend Mikey, actually. He’s always so concerned.