MagazinesPost Magazine

Channel hop

Mark Peters

 

 

I flunked science at school. What did I care? I never wanted to become a doctor or build rockets for a living. I was going to be a professional footballer!

As a child, the physics of elementary particles were far from sexy; I was way better at drawing pictures (but obviously not at writing words, I hear you say). I've always preferred the "wow!" over the "why?". Even now, I don't really care how things work, I just accept that they do. Which makes it all the more remarkable that I found myself transfixed, without the need to pop the kettle on even once, for the whole glorious hour of Dara O Briain's Science Club (BBC Knowledge, Fridays at 8pm).

Set in what appears to be a posh student bar with a very blokey Top Gear ambience (don't hold that against it), the programme, along with the Irish comedian who hosts it, is aiming to show us that science may be nerdy but it can be cool, too. (And if you want more proof, witness the BBC's other beguiling boffin, Professor Brian Cox, who you may have seen along with O Briain last week in Stargazing. The last episode of that three-part series is on tonight, at 8pm).

Science Club strikes a fine balance between humour and hard facts. Over the next six episodes, a mix of household experiments, guest presenters and renowned scientists will teach us about genetics and that clever fella, Albert Einstein. Although it's still science dumbed down for laddish mass appeal, at least that means it doesn't come across as preachy and know-it-all, and much like Stephen Fry's QI, it educates while entertaining.

Like most good things, this week's episode begins with sex and Polish super-strength vodka. Next week we'll see whether O Briain can measure the speed of light using cheese on toast. It's certainly hip to be square these days.

If you prefer your schooling to come with a little more razzle dazzle, then Magic of Science (above; Discovery Channel, Wednesdays at 11pm) should do the trick. Other than David Blaine, with his tedious, melodramatic stunts, it seems magicians are no longer content just to amaze us with their miraculous feats; no, these ego trippin' showmen are now determined to reveal their secrets to making the impossible possible . Magic of Science comes plastered with "spoiler alert" stickers, although here our four hotshot street magicians show us the part science, as opposed to mere sleight of hand, plays in their endeavours. It's a little more informative and a little less cocksure than most shows of its kind but I still believe the only joy of magic comes when you're left wide-eyed and bewildered.

And for more wonders that never cease, I give you the ever-expanding Braverman clan, who are back with a fourth season of relationship issues and family bonding, in the comedy drama Parenthood (Star World, tomorrow at 6pm). Unusually for a television series, Parenthood has grown stronger with each season and although it has continued to follow the same dialogue-heavy formula, the intimate moments in between all the chitter-chatter really hammer home the emotional nails. It's a show that manages to expose the flaws, failures and insecurities of its characters while revealing their strengths and desire to change for the better.

First to tug on this season's heart strings is Haddie, as she departs for college, leaving Adam (Peter Krause; Six Feet Under), Kristina and Max endeavouring to adapt to life without her. There are more parental lessons to be learned and shoulders to be cried upon but, ultimately, Parenthood is a warm celebration of people coming together and battling all that life has to throw at them: in other words, the true science of family.

 

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or