Earlier this year, I was bemoaning the fact that not only is there very little mainstream science programming, the stuff that is around is dumbed down almost to the extent that it's completely worthless. Okay, so BBC4 is trying to fill in the gaps with things like The Story of Maths, but everywhere else, there's nothing but rubbish.
Which is a shame, because the BBC used to produce some truly excellent science programmes, usually as part of its Horizon strand. Possibly the biggest jewel in its crown was Life Story, which was billed as a "Horizon special". This was a feature-length dramatisation of the race by Francis Crick and James Watson against Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins in the 1950s to discover the secrets of the structure of DNA. It depicts how the quick-moving Crick and Watson were able to beat the more methodical Franklin and Wilkins to the discovery using Franklin and Wilkins' own work - while still finding time to flesh out the characters of the scientists involved and give an unpleasantly accurate picture of the misogyny of 1950s Britain.
This was how to do science dramatisation. Step aside rubbish like Egypt, Life Story had Tim Pigott-Smith and Jeff Goldblum as Crick and Watson, and Juliet Stevenson and Alan Howard as Franklin and Wilkins. It had a script by William Nicholson (Shadowlands), based on Watson's book The Double Helix, and direction by Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard). It ended up winning three awards, including a BAFTA for best single drama.
However, it was such a good dramatisation and the science was so accurate that it quickly became popular at universities and schools as a teaching aid. As a result, although it was made available as a VHS video, it was priced at the $160 institutional mark. It hasn't been made available on DVD, it's only been repeated a couple of times. It's a Lost Gem.
Here's the opening few minutes which sets the scene for the rest of the film.
In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, NBC In the UK: Five, from January (probably)
Wake up, NBC! Wake up!
I don't know if you've noticed this, but Tina Fey has been something of a hot property of late. Thanks to her scary impersonation of Sarah Palin (here with Will Ferrell as George Bush), people all over the world are waking up to the fact that despite having been on and written for a recent season of SNL, she is in fact a comedy genius.
Not NBC though, because they've waited until the end of October to bring to our screens the latest season of 30 Rock. Set behind the scenes of a fictitious NBC sketch show, it features Tina Fey as the show's bewildered liberal producer and Alec Baldwin as the interfering conservative executive in charge of Fey's show, east coast programming and microwave ovens. And it's easily the best comedy on television at the moment (yes, better than The Office, etc)
Well done, NBC. Would you like to look at your ratings? Scary, aren't they? Want to start thinking a bit more in future, maybe, about how you could capitalise on events rather than simply staring at them blankly?
Of course, there may have been doubts about the show's funniness. Would season three be as funny as previous seasons?
Current favourite for the job is Paterson Joseph, best known from Peep Show, at 3-1 odds, but David Morrisey is close behind at 5-1 (and there might be a revelation or two in the Christmas special to look forward to there), James Nesbitt is at 6-1 and John Simm (weirdly enough) is at 8-1.
Question for the day though: who would you like to be the next Doctor. It might be an outlandish suggestion that would never ever happen in real life, but this is Fantasy Doctor League so name your personal fave right now.
I'm currently being persuaded that Idris Elba (of The Wire and Ultraviolet) would be a great choice, although maybe one that wouldn't actually come about in real life. What do you think?
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events, competitions and even weekly reviews of Wonder Woman comics, and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Barrometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
Praise for the blog Cision: fourth most important UK TV blog Blogging Edge: Blogger running Britain 2013
"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.