Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mr. Limpet Got it Right -- "Your Inner Fish" Premieres on PBS Tonight!

Fans of science will be particularly thrilled with PBS' new series Your Inner Fish, a three-part journey over three weeks presented by Dr. Neil Shubin, author of the book of the same name.  The premise of Your Inner Fish is, to quote Dr. Shubin,  "How deeply connected we are to the rest of life on our planet. Our genes and cells and organs all contain evidence of this connection. It's been discovered by cracking rocks in the field, studying genomes in laboratories, and looking at lots of other evidence. The outcome of these discoveries is seeing so clearly that we're part of the tree of life."  Could there be a better come-on line than those?

Shubin is a delightful presence -- super-smart, personable and absolutely convincing. He, along with his fellow scientists including biologists, paleontologists, and anthropologists come together to take us along the absolutely fascinating journey through the millions of years of development it took to end up with human beings.  This is a celebration of evolution all the way, and it's compelling from
beginning to end, which is us...for now anyway.

The PBS website for Your Inner Fish is filled with a plethora of engaging features as well as oodles of educational material for teachers who should be loving this wonderful series for bringing this subject alive for their students.  Even more wonderful is the fact that the poster fish for this amazing journey has got to be the Tiktaalik, a fossil fish found in Arctic Canada that is the link to the moment that fish emerged from the sea to walk on land.  Such an achievement, and such an adorable Tiktaalik!  Find out more about it on his official University of Chicago webpage.  If Jurassic Park made velociraptors cool, then Your Inner Fish will make Tiktaalik everybody's favorite walking fish. 

Right now is a great time to be a science supporter and a TV watcher.  Both Cosmos and now Your Inner Fish, as well as the regularly terrific NOVA and assorted offerings on Discovery Channel, Science Channel, Animal Planet, Nat Geo and elsewhere are doing good work offering up an endlessly interesting selection of science-oriented programming all over the spectrum.  For all the superstition and silly pseudo-science out there -- and for as much as I love the crazy antics of the folks on Finding Bigfoot, for example -- there is nothing like the real thing. 

Your Inner Fish premieres tonight on your local PBS station, probably at 10pm.  Be sure to check out the website, too!

Here is a short preview of the excitement coming your way on Your Inner Fish:

The charming Tiktaalik gets his own song, and it's a catchy one -- he's so photogenic!

Dr. Neil Shubin giving a lecture on "Finding Your Inner Fish" for University of California Television:

Here is Dr. Shubin giving a talk during The Year of Darwin --

And just in case you didn't know what Mr. Henry Limpet as played by Don Knotts in the charming 1963 film The Incredible Mr. Limpet thought about fish, here is a short clip and his philosophy in the song "I Wish I Were a Fish" --

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Knickers Up! "Turn" Premieres on AMC Tonight

In terms of screen-worthy American history, the Revolutionary War has always gotten short shrift.  It's neither as easy to relate to as World War II (at least until all the actual veterans of that war have passed away, which will be not too far in the future), nor as ruggedly costumed as the Winning of the West (with its long sexy duster coats and cowboy boots), nor as we-will-not-forget-able as the Civil War (watch the
Confederate flags still waving in the South even today).  The problem with the American Revolution is mostly sartorial, I think.  It's those knickers, those long white socks that turn every man's lower gams into those of a prima ballerina.  It's just a too-girly look that, along with the big-buckled shoes, often puts the kibosh on the kind of engagement that leads to abiding TV viewer love.  (Explaining also, perhaps, the lack of successful movies about old-time golfers who were also partial to knickers...).

Despite a succession of actors taking on the role of George Washington over the years, most famously Barry Bostwick's turn as the Father of Our Country in two separate miniseries, it's not been enough to overcome the panic that sets in when audiences spy a powdered wig -- or is that Whig? -- and those fancy stockings.  Most recently David Morse did a wonderful job as Washington in HBO's John Adams miniseries from 2008, and Kelsey Grammer was our #1 President in a TV Movie for A&E back in 2003 entitled Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor with Aidan Quinn as Arnold, and Jeff Daniels crossed the Delaware in another A&E original The Crossing from 2000.

 Further back, there was a brief flurry of Revolutionary ardor when the ad hoc network of stations comprising Operation Prime Time enjoyed great success beginning in 1978 in with their adaptations of John Jakes' lusty historical adventure novels The Bastard, The Rebels and The Seekers.  It took generous servings of bosoms in tight bodices to appease the anti-knickers crowd, but it worked like crazy and OPT changed the face of TV forever, demonstrating that local stations could challenge and would eventually topple the dominance of the Big Three networks.  Talk about a Revolution!

Hoping to avoid the knicker jinx, AMC, on the heels of its amazing successes with Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, picks up the fife and drums and marches bravely back to the late 18th Century with Turn, premiering tonight at 9pm.  Turn tells the story of the intrepid colonists who were enlisted into dangerous duty as America's first counter agents, risking their lives to spy on the British forces.  Starring Jamie Bell, Stephen McNally, Angus MacFayden, Seth Numrich and Burn Gorham (so great in Torchwood!), Turn could put the oomph back into red coats and breeches.  

Of course, The Flaming Nose TV Blog will always love the Revolutionary longhairs from ABC's circa-1970 short-lived series The Young Rebels, as we explained here several years ago.

Don't miss Turn beginning tonight on AMC and check out their official website here.