Posts Tagged 'documentary'

Some musings on TV documentaries

While I only briefly covered Matt Wedel’s recent brush with the TV documentaries, I do have a store of things I’d like to discuss at some point about them with my “science communication” hat on. I often lay into the print and online media on here and less so for the TV crews if only because being in China (and before that Germany) I don’t get much of an opportunity to see them. Secondly, I find it hard for them to capture my attention – I can read through a few hundred words on dinosaurs in a couple of minutes and get a good impression of the piece and often it’s about something new so there is new information there. With a TV show, it can be an hour long and tell me nothing I didn’t know 10 years ago, so regardless of its quality, I’m likely to get bored.

However, I do pick up enough clips online, and I do see shows when I’m in the UK (and get the odd DVD), and I do speak to both colleagues helping out on the shows and with the people making them. I’ve done various background bits for a couple of series and am friends with a documentary maker in the UK, so I suspect I have the bases covered as well, if not better, than most. Even so, it can be hard to form a proper critique of this kind of thing as it’s fundamentally hard for me not to view something with my researcher hat on. I’ll spot most of the even incredibly minor inconsistencies and the major ones will annoy me, even if 99% of the audience misses it. Bearing all that in mind, here’s my little manifesto.

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