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There is no evidence that Quetzalcoatlus could see dinosaur pee with its ultraviolet vision, or that a herd of hadrosaurs could knock over a predator with their concentrated infrasound blasts.
December 17, 2009 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Paleontologist Matt Wedel was a talking head in the Discovery Channel's Clash of the Dinosaurs, but was not very happy with the final product. The production company, Dangerous, responds. Finally, the Discovery Channel steps up.
posted by brundlefly (61 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, a dinosaur brawl!
posted by mwhybark at 4:52 PM on December 17, 2009


Hey, what does Matt Wedel have against reading Giant-Size X-Men and getting hit on the head a few times?!
posted by lekvar at 5:04 PM on December 17, 2009


The series has some obvious faults. It is incredibly repetitive, to the point that I found it hard to watch for any length of time without my attention wandering... You’ll learn in 30 seconds why females tend to be choosier about mates than males (eggs are more expensive than sperm), and spend the next 15 minutes having that slowly beaten in your brain using as much empty verbiage as possible. Ditto every other fact on the show.

And a crapload of other shows. It drives me insane. Is the common TV viewer a moron? I'd like to think not. So I have to assume it's simply padding sparse content.

I have to assume it's padding sparse content.

They must not have much content.

I guess it's a content issue.

Sorry.
posted by Splunge at 5:11 PM on December 17, 2009 [18 favorites]


Good for him.

Though I laugh at his idea that the people who write these programs have any control over how badly the content is mangled. Oh, my friend, you don't want to know how that sausage is made.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:14 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, I meant to include that I found this via the discussion list of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, where there is an ongoing discussion of related issues.
posted by brundlefly at 5:24 PM on December 17, 2009


It is incredibly repetitive, to the point that I found it hard to watch for any length of time without my attention wandering... You’ll learn in 30 seconds why females tend to be choosier about mates than males (eggs are more expensive than sperm), and spend the next 15 minutes having that slowly beaten in your brain using as much empty verbiage as possible.

Welcome to...SCIEEEEENNNNCCCE OOOONNNN TEEEEE VEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeee
posted by DU at 5:24 PM on December 17, 2009


You get this same bullshit with lots of the ancient history shows. And the ones about mysterious monsters. And the ones about historical mysteries and ancient monsters.

These shows should all be awesome but they spoon out detail as if it were a limited quantity. I understand why the footage may be limited due to budget but words and knowledge are free for the taking. And then there is always the same bullshit structure where they are pretending to build toward a Big Reveal or Weighty Conclusion but it's always anti-climatic and by the time they show the whole skeleton or ancient ruin you've already seen it 100 times in the lead up.

I swear to god it drives me insane.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 5:25 PM on December 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Is the common TV viewer a moron?

What gave you that idea?
posted by Pragmatica at 5:27 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


The director generally writes these programs, first in a paper edit and subsequently in the cutting room. There is no separate writer, especially in a British TV production, which this was.

His only real complaint is that he was edited to make it appear he believed something he didn't. The prodco were caught red-handed. They didn't admit anything because if they did they'd have to pay for the edit session to remaster the show, which would have been a huge pain and have run into thousands of pounds. (I know because I've done this, and it's a nightmare).

Then Discovery called them on it, which they should have. I wonder who'll pay for it now?

Anyway, if anyone thinks this is unusual in documentaries, they are insane. Making doccos is one of the dirtiest businesses known to man. "We're making films, not friends" was a mantra in one place I worked, as was "never let the facts get in the way of a good story".
posted by unSane at 5:28 PM on December 17, 2009


It is incredibly repetitive, to the point that I found it hard to watch for any length of time without my attention wandering... You’ll learn in 30 seconds why females tend to be choosier about mates than males (eggs are more expensive than sperm), and spend the next 15 minutes having that slowly beaten in your brain using as much empty verbiage as possible.

This is one of the main reasons I gave up watching Discovery Channel content years ago. I assumed it was deliberate program design created to suit channel-surfing Americans who can't actually stick with a show for any length of time. They repeat things over and over because you probably aren't still tuned in after the commercial break, or because you were fiddling with your smart phone, or any number of other reasons. Most American shows seem desperately dumbed down. (Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares BBC vs US is a glaring example) There is no assumption of intelligence on behalf of the viewer anymore.

The other reason I quit watching Discovery shows is that they are approaching a 1:1 ratio of programming to advertising. If I'm tuning in for an hour-long show, and there are 30 minutes of commercials, I start to feel really gypped after a while.
posted by hippybear at 5:29 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"We're making films, not friends"

How could you survive in this environment.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 5:34 PM on December 17, 2009


Great find. I agree with the point made in the third link suggesting that NOVA is amazingly safe from the make-the-science-fit-what-the-producers-want style of editing. It just reminds me of the NOVA episode on the recent hubble repair, where the dramatic moment in the first half was OMG USING MORE THAN THE RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF TORQUE. And it was exciting! I cheered for science journalism. But with anything from cable tv, even (or perhaps especially) the discovery channel, it's bound to be dreck.
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:38 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


How could you survive in this environment.

$?
posted by Splunge at 5:40 PM on December 17, 2009


Because the films made by people who are making friends, not films, are awful.
posted by unSane at 5:40 PM on December 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


(All the great documentary makers I've ever met -- and I've met a lot -- have been complete shysters. You have to be completely ruthless to make a good documentary.)
posted by unSane at 5:41 PM on December 17, 2009


I'm guessing that Discover is just doing what everyone else is doing. Invest less and maximize profits. History Channel, the other one I used to watch is unwatchable now too.

The only time I can watch tv is on Wednesday nights...30min sleep timer flipping between Myth Busters and Ghost Hunters.
posted by snsranch at 5:48 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You have to be completely ruthless to make a good documentary

Oh, completely — but you surely don't intend this as a defense of the filmmakers here? They took an expert providing factual commentary and just removed some of his words to invert his meaning. That's completely different than all the various ways in which a good documentary is a subjective reflection of the filmmaker's view of the world.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:48 PM on December 17, 2009


I agree with the point made in the third link suggesting that NOVA is amazingly safe from the make-the-science-fit-what-the-producers-want style of editing.

I don't. Recent (i.e. in the last 5-10 years at least) NOVA episodes are just as dumbed down as anything you find on Discovery. 5 minutes of information carefully spread over 42 minutes of broadcast time, with 5 minutes of template BS intro and conclusion tacked onto each end.

(BS intro or conclusion template: For [hundreds/thousands] of years man has dreamt of [flying, space, curing disease, understand the pyramids, eating tacos]. Today, that dream is closer than ever to becoming a reality. *music swells*...etc)
posted by DU at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


The guy says:
And before some commenter says it, I know these companies are in business to make money, not to serve as some kind of selfless science dole. I disagree violently with the suggestion that commercial concerns force them to make bad documentaries, or that there is any necessary conflict between accuracy and entertainment. The real stories are more interesting and more exciting anyway. Exhibit A: David Attenborough’s entire career. End of discussion.
Which is probably worth annotating: David Attenborough works for the BBC, a nationalised broadcasting body which does not run commercials.
posted by stammer at 5:57 PM on December 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's so depressing. We've seen this same idiocratic pattern with every single specialty cable channel from Discovery and the History Channel to the Food Network. They start off with a modicum of intelligence and then inevitably become idiot factories. The so-called History Channel is the worst. It's non-stop Christian propaganda bullshit. "Plagues of the Bible!" "Armageddon: How it will Happen!" Infuriating.

Now my local PBS affiliate is like 80% repeated Ken Burns docs from 15 years ago or concert footage of some washed-up 1960's band or some horrible cooking show. If you manage to catch Frontline it's like being struck by lightning. And yet they keep askig me for money? For what, exactly?
posted by tkchrist at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I suspect that many of the tv documentary and non-fiction history/science pieces are edited by people who are applying the rules of fictional tv storytelling to a non-fiction piece. It would explain the elevation of fringe theories, conspiracy fantasy, and discredited ideas (through rigorous scientific/historical/archaeological/original sourcing) that are treated as fact; they're often much more tv-exciting than the truth - easier to film, easier to make "exciting", easier to stack hyperbole on ....
posted by julen at 6:07 PM on December 17, 2009


The only time I can watch tv is on Wednesday nights...30min sleep timer flipping between Myth Busters and Ghost Hunters.
posted by snsranch


Oh god Ghost Hunters. That I truly can't sit through for more than three minutes. Nothing but infrared shots of people looking concerned. There isn't even a build up to a reveal. There is no reveal. Just people looking concerned and startled in glorious green home-porn IR glow.
posted by Babblesort at 6:14 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whatever, the guy clearly knew about Walking With Dinosaurs and it's ilk, and thought the show he was going to be on would be different?
posted by poppo at 6:16 PM on December 17, 2009


That is exactly what it's good for...putting me to sleep.
posted by snsranch at 6:17 PM on December 17, 2009


Having been a huge fan of the Walking with Dinosaurs series, I was really looking forward to this, but it was just awful. Not only were the same points repeated over and over, but the same CGI footage as well. The same six or seven sequences, over and over, sometimes illustrating the same point, sometimes different. There appeared to be about 10 minutes of dino animation created for a two-hour program. I watched about 20 minutes, then fast-forwarded through the rest of the show, seeing the same scenes—T-Rexes hatch, Mama T-Rex gets injured, Saurpods plod toward the horizon...god it was bad.

Oh, and it should come as no surprise that Walking with Dinosaurs was a BBC production.
posted by stargell at 6:18 PM on December 17, 2009


Ah, having RTFA I see that Walking With Dinos is not universally acclaimed, and that the science therein is questionable. Nevertheless, I found it anything but boring and repetitive (I'll take all Discovery Channel science with a grain of salt). In contrast, Wedel points out in his blog:

I explained on camera about the unavoidably high mortality among juvenile sauropods, and how groups of Deinonychus could probably pick off the baby sauropods like popcorn. I had been speaking of hatchlings, but my words are cut together with a scene–which you’ll see about 15,000 times–of three Deinonychus taking down an elephant-sized subadult Sauroposeidon. In the real world, it would have pulped them. In the dramatically-lit world of Clash of the Dinosaurs, the three raptors inflict a handful of very shallow flesh wounds with their laughably tiny claws and the Sauroposeidon expires theatrically for no visible reason.

(If they really wanted to impress the audience with the implacability of Mesozoic death, they would have shown the three raptors mowing down a field of newly-hatched babies like so much wheat…)

See, these guys don't even know how to make a shitty documentary entertaining. In addition to being bad science, these historical reenactment and CGI shows commit an even bigger sin: they're just plain boring.
posted by stargell at 6:34 PM on December 17, 2009


Just thinking out loud here, and absolutely with no evidence, but I wonder if such organisations dumb things down to such a degree so that they can resell to educational markets. Presumably repetition and simplicity would maximise the range of age-groups they could claim to be supporting (especially for dinosaurs, which are huge in the very young set). The BBC, freed from such financial considerations and with an extant brand, large infrastructure and good rep, can afford be a great deal more highbrow.
posted by Sparx at 6:42 PM on December 17, 2009


They dumb down for one market and one market only. The American public. Which is dumber that a wool sack of rusty hammers.
posted by tkchrist at 6:51 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wish I could get a job (any job actually) as a ghost debunker. I'll carry my special tools with me:

A set of portable infra-red alarms.
Sealed water bottles
Night vision goggles
A Taurus 4510 pistol with .410 shotshells

The alarms are if I have to sleep there. The water bottles are sealed so that nobody could slip me any chemicals that might cause hallucinations. The night vision goggles are for seeing if anyone else human is around.

The shot pistol is for teaching anyone a lesson if they want to fuck with me. It shouldn't be a problem if I'm alone in the house with ghosts, right?

And shotshells are rarely fatal. But again, why should anyone worry if I shoot at ghosts?

Any takers PM me.

Sleep tight.
posted by Splunge at 6:51 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The director generally writes these programs, first in a paper edit and subsequently in the cutting room. There is no separate writer, especially in a British TV production, which this was.

Really? I haven't been involved in this racket even peripherally for a million years, but way back in the day, people producing non-fiction TV used to hire writers to do a bunch of research and interviews and write up some outlines and storyboards, all of which were then blithely tromped into unrecognizable shards by the directors (and sometimes the producers, and sometimes the network staff).

I don't know if it's good or bad if they stopped even hiring writers at all. I guess bad, because the checks didn't bounce as I recall. On the other hand, I'm sure the GRAR shortened my life a bit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:56 PM on December 17, 2009


Score one for the good guys. Excellent post.
posted by e.e. coli at 6:56 PM on December 17, 2009


They dumb down for one market and one market only. The American public.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

You have obviously never watched TV in the UK or France. Or Argentina. Or Mexico. I can't speak for the rest of the world so much, but I doubt the non-fiction TV is any smarter anywhere else.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:57 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I forgot Italy. The level of discourse on TV in Italy makes US TV look like a Senior Common Room at Oxford.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:59 PM on December 17, 2009


Oh god, did anyone else watch that horrible "documentary expose" on ABC or whev last year that was about the whole Female Pope thing? It was, like, the most annoying example of this phenomenon ever.

I mean, spending an hour repeating the same info over and over, and interviewing pagan channelers who claim to be in communication with Pope Joan is all well and good, but if your Big Reveal and The Most Crucial Piece of Evidence is that one of the carved heads at Westminster Abbey looks a little bit like a woman, maybe you need to re-think your entire premise.
posted by muddgirl at 7:00 PM on December 17, 2009


Trust me, I did this stuff for broadcast TV for a decade. Thirteen full length doccos and many other hours I contributed to. I wrote and directed and storyboarded and sometimes edited it myself, and so did everyone else I worked with. In the entire decade (1990-2000) I never heard of any writer ever being hired or used. One one or two occasions the network pretended a celebrity presenter who I won't name had written it, but that was a complete lie. I was sometimes brought in to write other people's scripts for them, but it was done as a favor and no credit was ever asked for and would not have been given, and I was not paid, and did not expect to be.

And yes I'm not remotely defending the misrepresentation of the interview, just saying it is not completely unheard of. I certainly never did anything like that. I made myself quite unpopular by arguing about misrepresentations of interviewees' viewpoints, arguments which I almost always lost.
posted by unSane at 7:02 PM on December 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


(It was an incredible shock to me to discover that the fiction film business, as well as being exponentially better paid than doccos, was very much less dirty. I think it is because doccos are second cousins to journalism, and the same ethics apply. Which is to say, in the UK at least, none.)
posted by unSane at 7:05 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clash of the Dinosaurs: Crouching Parasaurolophus, Hidden Agenda.
posted by rdone at 7:24 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wrote and directed and storyboarded and sometimes edited it myself, and so did everyone else I worked with. In the entire decade (1990-2000) I never heard of any writer ever being hired or used.

Interesting! It seems weird that TV networks and production houses hire (or used to hire) writers for stuff like history and biography and travel documentaries--none of which require particularly esoteric knowledge--and yet rely, and relied, on the director or producer to do the science documentaries, which one might think required more specific grounding in a field.

It seems like the US does the same as you describe--of the three current "NOVA" programs in rotation on PBS, one is "written and produced by" someone and one is "written and directed by" someone.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:27 PM on December 17, 2009


The internet is a very long lever...

I like this.
posted by ErWenn at 7:28 PM on December 17, 2009


I suspect that many of the tv documentary and non-fiction history/science pieces are edited by people who are applying the rules of fictional tv storytelling to a non-fiction piece. It would explain the elevation of fringe theories, conspiracy fantasy, and discredited ideas (through rigorous scientific/historical/archaeological/original sourcing) that are treated as fact; they're often much more tv-exciting than the truth - easier to film, easier to make "exciting", easier to stack hyperbole on ....

THIS.

Except that the rules of fictional TV storytelling are the rules of storytelling. Factual TV is no different. The problem arises when the factual matter under discussion doesn't fit a simple template of narrative. Your choices as a documentary maker at that point are (a) twist it until it does or (b) hope that you can figure out a way to connect the dots of the facts to make an honest, coherent narrative. Obviously you hope for (b), and the most skilled documentarians do this over and over again, but sometimes reality just fucks you, and you go to (a).

The first lesson you learn in documentary filmmaking is that the option (c) present a complicated set of facts with an unsatisfying narrative thrust, is not available to you*. Nor is (d) give them back the money and go home. You have a film to make, and a broadcast date to hit. Choose your own adventure.

*try this and they will fire you out of a cannon, and your career will be over
posted by unSane at 7:32 PM on December 17, 2009


Walter Cronkite=news reported

Then came "Eyewitness News" and happy banter between talking heads.

Now there is whatever they call it now.

Edutainment?

::sigh::

Sorry again, I'm drunk. I drink because I must.

To slake my thirst and kill the demons of the television that had so much promise.

That visual whore that promised me SO MUCH. And then took my attention and laughed as I stumbled away. But she knows that I will return another day. Again and again. Wondering when.

She will truly love me for me. Be with me. Laugh with me, not at me.

Because I believe her lie. Every day. Like an amnesiac. I try.

And she mocks me.

::sigh::
posted by Splunge at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2009


'twas ever thus. If you think that there was some golden age where this didn't happen, you've either drunk too much, or not enough.
posted by unSane at 8:10 PM on December 17, 2009


Splunge: How could you survive in this environment.

$?


justin@information-density:~$ true
justin@information-density:~$ echo $?
0
justin@information-density:~$

posted by idiopath at 8:10 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


It seems weird that TV networks and production houses hire (or used to hire) writers for stuff like history ... none of which require particularly esoteric knowledge

What, history doesn't require esoteric knowledge? I think you ought to discuss your favourite history documentary with your best historian buddy before you start making claims like that! :-) There's a reason that history PhD's tend to take longer to get than science PhD's, and it's not just the crappy funding.

I've actually worked as a researcher/expert adviser on a non-fiction TV show in the UK, and found that I had exactly the same kind of frustrations these scientists had (even though I'm only a historian and, therefore, know only what one can pick up on the back of a cereal packet ;-) ).

Early in the process -- this is before I'd gone and done their 'research' for them -- they showed me a copy of the script and said 'we'd really like your opinion; what do you think of this?' Being new to the small screen I told the truth: 'well... actually what you're saying there isn't true. But don't worry, because there is actually a true thing here, and it's even more interesting and surprising and entertaining than what you have there, and it'll be much more interesting for your audience'. They kind of looked at me, frowned a bit, and said 'but... that's not what it says in the script! We need you to go out and find the facts to support what it says in the script.'

I subsequently found out that the people I was 'advising' were a very low link in a very long chain. The script had been developed sometime earlier by a senior producer (don't ask me what the real title was, TV people seem to have thousands of different 'producer' ranks, all of which sound the same to outsiders). This script was then handed down, like the tablets of Moses, to some junior producers who had neither the power, authority or temerity to question its contents. All that they were empowered to do was fill in the bits that said 'insert fact here'. If they changed anything else then it would presumably screw up an entire production chain that was, even at that moment, busily constructing the sounds and pictures associated with the bits of the script for which my advice was not considered to be important.

The problem was that the TV production process is so complex, and so time consuming, that they simply can't change anything once the wheels had been set in motion. By the point in the process when expert advisers have been brought in to deal with the fiddly bits around the edges, vast quantities of nonsense have been permanently embedded in the programme. Nothing can be done but try to edit the talking heads so that they put the brains in the dino derrieres, where the script needs them to belong.
posted by Dreadnought at 8:21 PM on December 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'll chime in with agreement that these kinds of documentaries drive me crazy with their horrible, soul-crushing format. The endless teasers trumpeting the empty reveal at the end of the show are getting very old. Repeating the same 5 things when there's a wealth of information concerning the subject kills me. Dinosaurs! Egypt! History! How the FUCK do you write a 1-2 hour documentary about such rich material and fail so completely to inform or entertain me?

It's like they're designed to make me hate the broadcasting network. That can't possibly be the goal, but there it is.
posted by empyrean at 8:22 PM on December 17, 2009


As a dino junkie, I'll watch any of these shows. The Clash of the Dinosaurs, though, couldn't hold my attention. My trick is to turn down the volume and just watch dinosaurs frolicking on the TV. The animation was repetitive and clunky. It made me wish they'd used puppets instead...sock puppets...with googly eyes and felt teeth and horns.
posted by crataegus at 8:31 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, history doesn't require esoteric knowledge? I think you ought to discuss your favourite history documentary with your best historian buddy before you start making claims like that!

I have worked on history documentaries myself, so (despite having a degree in literature). My perhaps hopelessly biased opinion is that it is easier to look up some aspect of history about which you previously knew nothing from a book and get it right than it is to look up some aspect of science about which you previously knew nothing from a book and figure out what you're talking about*. At least for me.

Not to mystify SCIENCE! as this amazing wonderful thing that people have to be acolytes of, but I would suggest that accurate information is often less readily accessible to the lay person.

*Holy fuck, this sentence is convoluted. It's a miracle anyone ever pays me to write anything if this is the best I can do.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:56 PM on December 17, 2009


At least in features, when we fuck up the science, it's usually because the client cannot be dissuaded from something that looks really neat but doesn't make a damn lick of sense.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:06 PM on December 17, 2009


(BS intro or conclusion template: For [hundreds/thousands] of years man has dreamt of [flying, space, curing disease, understand the pyramids, eating tacos]. Today, that dream is closer than ever to becoming a reality. *music swells*...etc)

I'd watch that.
posted by Jilder at 10:27 PM on December 17, 2009


Is the common TV viewer a moron? I'd like to think not.

It's awfully kind of you that you do think not, but...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:41 PM on December 17, 2009


Lately I've become very fond of the scaletempo module of VLC which lets you adjust the playback rate with fine increments without affecting the pitch. I find I can comfortably follow at 1.4x, and many things I can still follow at 1.6x or 1.7x with a little concentration. Some talks/speeches I can even crank up to 2.0x and still follow. Take a downloaded TV episode, and already it's down from an hour to 42 minutes due to having no commercials, and at 1.5x I can watch it in less than 30 minutes. This also works really well for TED talks or those various hour-ish long lectures on youtube or google video.

It really is amazing how much of speech is just empty space.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:35 AM on December 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


My gf was a Talking Head on a Science! show a couple of years ago. While the show was sometimes repetitive and CGI heavy, it was always reasonably accurate and never pulled any of the "twist the facts to fit the narrative" bullshit that so many people here seem to find sadly commonplace. The people who made the show really did seem to talk to the actual scientists first and figure out what was what, and then make a show based on that.

On the other hand, that was the second season of the show. When we noticed it was on again and took a look at the third season, it had completely degenerated into shows with topics like "Alien Lifeforms -- Will We Be Able to Have Sex With Them?" I'd assumed they'd just run out of material, but maybe someone started complaining about all the Facts and stuff.
posted by kyrademon at 2:28 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except that the rules of fictional TV storytelling are the rules of storytelling. Factual TV is no different.

Congratulations on being part of the problem.

Factual TV should be completely different. When I watch a show about dinosaurs, I don't want a narrative. I don't want a narrative with the dinosaurs as the characters. I don't want a narrative with humans as the characters where we learn about the intrigues between researchers. I don't even necessarily want a narrative with the facts as characters, where the researcher is struggling to find them out. I just want to know about dinosaurs.

If you want to know how to do science writing or TV, watch some Discovery Channel and NOVA and read some SciAm. The ones that have long descriptions of what the scientists look like and their outside interests and stuff, with shots of them surfing and whatnot.THEN DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THAT
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on December 18, 2009


The animation was repetitive and clunky. It made me wish they'd used puppets instead...sock puppets...with googly eyes and felt teeth and horns.

Lets do this.
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If there's an actual dino-nerd reading this, I have a question. The linked text mentions a "Sauroposeidon" and I didn't know what that was, so I googled it. It's just a big sauropod. The wikipedia entry though only mentions four vetebrae as evidence for the thing existing, everything else is just comparison to other brachiopods. So apart from the size difference (Sauroposeidon vertebrae vs. others) everything this guy says about the thing comes from compiled generic sauropod info?
posted by ServSci at 9:40 AM on December 18, 2009


It's like they're designed to make me hate the broadcasting network. That can't possibly be the goal, but there it is.

This, a thousand times over. I LOVE good non-fiction TV, but all the US programming (including Mythbusters, to my horror) started looking like reality TV, with the constant repeats, and empty reveals, and the fucking lousy 'dynamic' camera work. I canceled my cable and have never looked back. But now I see the same techniques creeping into even the finer BBC shows and it makes me want to weep (luckily, Attenbourough projects seem to be immune for now).

I wish the producers and directors would see that, yes there is a market for well made semi-intelligent programming. Look at Planet Earth, or Blue Planet, or Life as the template and go back to occasionally making something amazing.
posted by gofargogo at 9:46 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


all the US programming (including Mythbusters, to my horror) started looking like reality TV, with the constant repeats, and empty reveals, and the fucking lousy 'dynamic' camera work.

MythBusters doesn't do this quite as much as others, but you are generally right. What's really weird is that they also do spoilers. "We'll find out if blue cheese dressing makes salad explode, RIGHT AFTER THIS!" *shot of exploding salad covered in blue cheese* Uh....did you not just show me the answer?
posted by DU at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2009


*stops chewing*

*slowly, carefully puts down salad*
posted by brundlefly at 10:53 AM on December 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


You have obviously never watched TV in the UK or France. Or Argentina. Or Mexico. I can't speak for the rest of the world so much, but I doubt the non-fiction TV is any smarter anywhere else.

It may not be obvious. But I have. I've lived all over the world and, yes, The Stupid is universal. But none of those places matter in terms of real market. Sure Global TV corp wants to squeeze every dime they can out of 27 minutes of video. But. The dominant big dollar market is still in only one place: The US. That is the market these cable shows are cut for and it's the only market that matters. And it's a market with its own unique brand of The Stupid.
posted by tkchrist at 12:04 PM on December 18, 2009


Stupid anecdote time!

A little over a week ago, my wife and I were in Amsterdam. Late-ish in the evening, staring at the hotel TV, trying to find anything worth watching.

All of a sudden, this documentary comes on. It's showing film of some horrible American mooks for some reason that we can't fathom, because the narration is in Dutch. Then one of these guys drops his pants. To reveal his stupefyingly huge schlong.

Narrator: "Gaar blib schnaar bleen koog't ENOR-MOUS PAY-NIS schwinn flim gevaar . . . "

Well, sure. We watched a Dutch documentarly about horrible schlubs from New Jersey who happened to have giant cocks. Which they displayed. Repeatedly. (When erect, they were pixilated.) It is probably the funniest and yet most horrifying hour of TV we've ever seen.
posted by Skot at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: When erect, they were pixilated.
posted by The Whelk at 12:28 PM on December 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


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