Friday, November 15, 2013

Big History

We recorded Big History on H2 -- History Chanel 2, or, more accurately "History" Channel 2 -- because it looked like the kind of program we enjoy. Truthfully it looked like a total ripoff of the great series written and presented by science historian James Burke The Day The Universe Changed, but Mr Burke is sadly not making any more, so we'll get our geek fix where we can.

It could turn into a decent show if they'd follow a few suggestions:

Aim for accuracy.

I heard that Bill Gates put money into this production through his foundation, and that science education is a big interest, so I'm a bit confused that he didn't insist on accuracy. Or at least not perpetuating lazy history errors by repeating such tripe as the legend of Paul Revere's ride. Here's a place to set that right by giving credit to the people who really risked their lives, and to get the message they spread right too. Just because that's not the focus of the episode does not mean it's okay to perpetuate mythology (and poetry) over fact. Sloppy work is not cool and doesn't help anyone. Okay? 

Stop repeating what you've already told us.

You're covering big ideas here. You say so in your title. You touch on a lot of complex issues that, by necessity, you're going to gloss over. And I'm sort of fine with that but not when you go back and restate the same bit of information four times. We saw it, we got it, move along! 

Spend your graphics budget wisely.

The hunter/gather rising from the salt was pointless the first time. the fourth time we were rolling our eyes and saying things like, "The producer must be very proud of his son's work."  Obviously, this is a budget issue. So next time skip the mammoth rising from the salt and, I don't know, show us where the Romans built their first paved road from and to instead of just showing us the pavers. Don't just say human's first big towns were built by water and salt. Show us a couple on maps! Or how about a quick glance inside a salt mine. Or salt flats. Show a natural salt lick with a herd of caribou lapping at it. I don't know, but anything is better than a graphic that illuminated nothing being shown over and over again.

Watch The Day the Universe Changed.

And maybe hire Mr Burke. He knows how to fascinate an audience and how to link ideas together without repeating himself or looping back to odd points in your presentation.

But other than that, a half-hearted thumb's up for you. At least you tried.

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