So, you ask us bloggers this week...
...What's the best science TV show of all time?...
For real-life science shows, I guess I would have to pick NOVA. This is because Mr. Zuska, who is not a scientist or an engineer, will actually sit and watch Nova and become absorbed in the program and occasionally ask me questions about what they are talking about. He once watched an entire program on string theory called The Elegant Universe. He even watched part of it a second time. I watched it with him but I had to cover my eyes when the little vibrating string graphics were on the screen because they looked too much like shimmering migraine auras and threatened to trigger a migraine for me. I am not joking. I once induced a migraine in myself merely from looking too long (i.e., 10 seconds or so) at the cover of Oliver Sacks's book Migraine. The cover painting depicts the distorted vision of a migraneur with the type of aura called mosaic aura. Just looking at a representation of how things look during aura to someone else is enough to give me a migraine. That sucks....but I digress. Back to the question.
Fictional series: no question for me, it's Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Lieutenant Tasha Yar
- Ensign Ro Laren.
- Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Keiko O'Brien
- Lt. Commander Deanna Troi
Those are some kick-ass women. Well, Deanna isn't terribly kick-ass, but I think it is very cool that TNG made such a statement about counseling: it's so important they had a ship's counselor and she was a Lt. Commander, too. And they showed people talking to Guinan about their problems and feelings as well. Very introspective series. With plenty of shiny techie toys and lots of nifty medical stuff and medical ethics stuff for Dr. Crusher to get all up in arms about. When that woman took a stand, geez, you better be on the right side or just get burned with her laser eyes. Take names; kick ass. And she looked absolutely fabulous the entire time. What I wouldn't give for hair that color...do you think it's real???? Now Guinan, with the hats...I love hats. She had some great ones, in both timelines she was in. And Ro Laren - what's not to love about an in-your-face Bajoran babe? With the ear jewelry and all? Do. Not. Mess. With. Ro.
The final reason I love TNG: Jean-Luc. Yessir, that's my baby. Nossir, don't mean maybe.
Image credit: Star Trek image from this site and created by THE DYSONSPHERE.
GUINAN!? She's a total Magical Negro! Her writers should be embarassed.
I'd definitely agree on NOVA--for sheer longevity, consistent high quality, and variety of topics, as well as wide potential audience (being on public television rather than cable), it's hard to see anything coming close to it. But I'd have a special mention for Tim Hunkin's "The Secret Life of Machines," because it had such a charming personal style and conveyed a real joy in science, technology and invention.
For fiction, I'll go animated--PBS's "Cyberchase" makes logic, math and geometry concepts fascinating to five-year-olds--so now I have a little daughter who will ask me from the back seat, "Mom, do you think any three lines can make a triangle? Because they can't." She and her best friend play math games on the playground, because they love Cyberchase so much. There are two girls and two boys among the main kid characters, and their mentor on the show is "Motherboard," a female-voiced computer. (The villain, "Hacker," is always trying to interfere with Motherboard, and the kids have to prevent that using their knowledge of math.)
Frumious B: Well, Magical Negro, I suppose. Geordi is a positive African American character on TNG and Troi is a Betazoid empath who does all the touchy-feely counseling (though not so much the mystical part, as Guinan does.) The Traveler is a white male character who does put characters in touch with "the way" and feelings and so on in a mystical manner similar to Guinan's role. Guinan is not an earthling but a member of some other species who is expected to have some funky capabilities...in short I guess I'm trying to argue that Guinan's character has not been loaded with ALL the responsibility on TNG for mystical funky counseling-type stuff. Also that African-American characters are not only seen in that type of role. But, I would not claim to have the last word on this. My feeling is this: I will take my positive women characters wherever I can get them, and I will appropriate from whatever I am offered, whatever positive I can get from them. So Guinan is not the best African American female character we could have hoped for on Star Trek. I still think she's better than none.
Penny: I've never seen Cyberchase. Probably a result of not having kids. It sounds fabulous! Thanks for writing about it!
This link will take you to the beginning of the episode guide for Cyberchase, now about to enter its fifth season. The plot summaries and sample clips should give you a good idea of the show: data gathering and organization, maps and navigation, calculating area, liquid volume, exponential increase, breaking codes, estimation, probability, etc. The website says it's aimed at 8-12 year olds, but my daughter and her best friend were pretending to be Slider and Inez when they were 4.
The Nature of Things. The David Suzuki Show. Various specials. Spanning decades.
He's a Nobel Laureat, too.
ok, I'll grant that Guinan might be balanced out by non-magical, African Americans and magical, non-African Americans, and I'll grant that while she may not be the best African-American character, she is at least a positive female character. I'd be more impressed if the bartender (low status, low pay) were white and more officers and scientists (high status/pay) were WoC.
Isn't Keiko from DS9?