Three things to watch
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
20-08-2010 17:38 CDT
It's high summer (in the northern hemisphere anyway) and many of you may be seeking shelter from the heat. (I guess those of you in the south may be seeking shelter from cold and dark!) If you need to collapse on the couch and watch TV, I have three space-y recommendations for you.
First of all is The Universe, specifically the episode "Mars, The New Evidence," on the History Channel. Planetary Society Board president Jim Bell and Director of Projects Bruce Betts get lots of face time as on-camera experts in this episode. You'll have to check your local listings to see when it airs; Bruce tells me that for most people in the U.S., it should be on at either 9:00 a.m. or noon tomorrow, Saturday, August 21.
Second is Wonders of the Solar System, a BBC production that is now airing on Wednesday nights on the Science Channel, and which is also available on DVD. I've been recording it and have so far only watched the first episode, and it is fantastic. Unlike so many recent space documentaries, which pander to the audience with huge explosions and "EXTREME!" and so forth, the emotions that seems to drive Wondersare reverence and awe; the show is quiet yet emotionally gripping, while respecting the intelligence of the viewers, and the graphics are terrific and up-to-date. I'd actually recommend going for the DVDs even if you get the Science Channel; I find that the frequent and obnoxious commercials really bring me out of the state of awe and wonder that the show inspires.
Finally, this one is not on the air yet, but it's time to set your DVRs: Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, has just announced that his TV show on the Discovery Channel, Bad Universe, has received an airdate: Sunday, August 29. While the trailer indicates that this show does indeed attempt to draw people in with big explosions, Phil's usual schtick is to ask people to think, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt for the promised big explosions and look forward to minimal pandering, and lots of well-researched explanations of things that confuse people about astronomy and space exploration.
If you don't feel like watching TV, here's a couple items from the Internet to blow your mind: The Star Wars Soundtrack played in orchestral form by a single woman on an Electone, and the insane and weirdly mesmerizing Star Wars Uncut.