I think Discovery is looking for new flagships

YMM of course V, but to me they hit a peak this spring. Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, Survivorman, and Man vs. Wild were going strong (and still are), and I was excited for another season of Deadliest Catch. Then they released the “Boom-de-yada” commercial and the world truly was, for a time, just awesome.

But I’m really not feeling their new stuff this season. Time Warp has potential; the rest seems like so much “extreme” bullshit. I’m very disappointed in this DESTROYED IN SECONDS!!!11 disaster porn (it’s more fun if you drink every time the host says something was “decimated”). Storm Chasers strikes me as the meteorological equivalent of Grizzly Man. And right now I’m watching two assholes get stuffed in a plexiglass box with airholes in it so they can piss off a pack of lions by teasing them with a piece of meat on a string.

I know that Discovery has to change their lineup every so often, and that the good shows they have will eventually run their course. For now, does anyone else feel that their new stuff is less-than-inspired? Am I forgetting that the shows that are so good now were once perhaps pretty awkward too?

Time Warp was good. It seems like Mythbusters lite, but high speed footage is one of the best bits of MB.

I kinda like the stormchaser one, but I think storm chasing and tornadoes are pretty cool.

I like Verminators. It seems like another show they’ll be counting on for a few seasons. One of them even did his own take on the Discovery promo. “I like killing things. I like makin’ them dead. Boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada.”

My wife now calls it the “explosion channel”.

Is this a common feeling? I don’t think the Discovery Channel has ever been worse. Were you around back in the '80s when they showed actual educational, non-sensationalized nature documentaries? It ruled. Mythbusters is non-scientific crap. It’s a drama about two boyfriends who are madly in love but don’t get along very well.

I happened to only see one episode - twice :rolleyes: - and it was weird. They did this whole buildup to a giant helicopter crash, then, literally as the chopper touched the ground, they cut and went to commercial. It was like making me stop before the money shot. They showed the crash after the break, but man, that was annoying…


I like the new “Prototype This” show that is on after Mythbusters pretty well. Time Warp is ok, but not something I’d re-arrange my schedule around, and Stormchasers is pretty entertaining. I watched that Lion Feeding Frenzy show last night, followed up with Stormchasers… I called it “special brand of crazy night”. The lion show was idiotic. I really wanted a couple of the lions to just body slam that stupid box and sent those idiots rolling.

I used to think there could be geeky equivalents to all the sports shows with just as much drama and excitement. Instead of agility and brute force winning the day, it would be brainpower and ingenuity that determines the victor. The Discovery channel would be the perfect venue.

Battlebots is a good example of this, where the best engineers with the best ideas should come out on top. Unfortunately, it seems the biggest wallets tend to win.

I’d like to see a MacGyver type competition where contestants walk into a room filled with various everyday objects. The goal is different each show, such as: breaching a locked door in the shortest amount of time, or opening a locked box, or climb over a 20 foot wall. There are many approaches to each problem, ranging from brute force to overthinking and far too clever answers. Maybe award a prize for most creative solution and for Rube Goldberg solutions that work.

I would certainly be interested to see the people who succeed week in and week out with a different clever solution each time!

Sadly, most of the competitions that test mental ability are simple trivia shows that can appeal to the masses. Spelling bees are borderline, since most people don’t like to see kids spell words they cannot. Are you smarter than a 5th grader? keeps those obvious first grade questions around for just this reason. We’re never going to see a math competition, for just this reason. Most viewers wouldn’t comprehend the questions, even the first round ones.

I’m afraid the public will always choose to watch people driving cars, instead of a competition to build faster / better / more fuel efficient cars.

I feel like I should like it, since I’m exactly the target demographic, but I’m just not that into it.

I just don’t find the guys that likable, even though they seem sufficiently technical, and there’s too much narration.

I love the idea, but it would be difficult to make excitement out of the 20 minutes the contestants are moseying around the room looking at stuff.

It is sad, isn’t it? They don’t call it an “idiot box” for nothing. :rolleyes:

This was Junkyard Wars/Scrapheap Challenge. Now, alas, consigned to the scrapheap.

Junkyard Wars almost always had pre-ordained solutions though. Like each team’s expert knew how they wanted to solve the problem, and conveniently, there were resources for that kind of solution in the junkyard.

Is that true for the UK version (the US version of Mega-Wars has been gone for years) - the Wiki article indicates there was indeed a series in 2008 (and the years before that), and that there will be a Scrapheap Challenge series for next year, albiet perhaps in a different format.

I only existed for 90% of the 80’s and my parents didn’t get Discovery until late '95, so I missed the bare-assed INFORMATION of the early years. As much as I would like to have basked in that, I don’t think it’s AS marketable any more.

And I’m confident in my geek cred; I know Mythbusters is generous with the term “scientific.” But it’s a damn sight better than what was in the preceding 10 years. I maintain that the flagship programs over the past 3 years or so were at least informative. Dirty Jobs is like a dystopic version of Mr. Rogers going to a factory or cannery or something like that. By contrast, when I entered high school around '96 it seemed like any crackpot could get air time with a UFO story, promise of “we’ll travel to pluto in a laser balloon within 5 years,” or some kind of crystal pyramid conspiracy theory bullshit. It is also to Discovery’s credit that they consigned the insipid Real World: Redneck that is American Chopper to The “Learning” Channel. I think they have (or had) struck a fine balance between style and substance over the past few years that is at least entertaining to people like you and me or educational to others.

It’s just disappointing to see their programming look more like 1998 than 2008. Like Lord Nader’s wife observed, explosions are to Discovery what Nazis are to History. I enthusiastically avoid the Hitler Channel now and I’d hate for Discovery to similarly become the Detonation Channel. When I say they hit a peak, I don’t mean that in relative terms, I mean that they at least found a balance.

But now they’re increasingly peddling fear, as in “Apocalypse How,” which made me want to spit on the screen. And on Storm Chasers you can just FEEL the crew wanting to be dicks to each other just because there’s a camera around. And returning to DESTROYED IN SECONDS, the crappy stock sound effects they add of people screaming or a dog barking* to their clips is only so much more gratuitous pissing on authenticity.

It would be fitting if the network pulled its head out of its ass and had a two hour special feature of Dirty Jobs where Mike Rowe teams up with Les Stroud, Bear Grylls, Jamie, Adam, Grant, Tory, Kari and all the captains from Deadliest Catch to… I dunno… make it all kick ass again. :frowning:

*when the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed, a guy on the bridge abandoned his car without being able to save his dog inside. When they ran that segment on Destroyed in Seconds, they superimposed the most half-assed, generic barking sound they could find. I hate the host’s voice, but he seems to have brought the taint of working for Fox with him.

A perfectly valid opinion, but I couldn’t disagree more. I think the Discovery Channel programs are some of the worst, shlockiest stuff on TV. There are shining moments; I didn’t realize Survivorman was on DC (I get DC, HC, AP, TLC, DSC, etc all mixed up; they’re one channel to me), and what I’ve seen of Planet Earth was good, but for the most part I think it’s just crap. To me, it’s worse than crap that’s proud of being crap - it’s crap disguised as educational, informative, whatever. If I’m going to waste my time watching crap I’d honestly rather just look at beautiful people and catch up on popular culture by watching VH1 or FOX or something.

Discovery Channel was most of my viewing from the late-80s until the late 90s and I don’t remember the UFO, pyramid, conspiracy, etc stuff, but I’ve seen plenty of it in the last few years, and more ghost shows than you can shake a stick at. I do admit that I watched very little tv in the second half of the 90s.

I don’t begrudge them their ratings-grabbing crap, but I wish they would just set aside one of their however many gajillion channels for actual non-sensationalized programming.

I feel the same way about the History channel. Remember when they had programs that were actually about history? Maybe I didn’t necessarily give a crap about important battles during the Han Dynasty, but it was nice to know that such programming was available. Now it’s 5 hours of Modern Marvels, followed by Nostradamus/UFO/conspiracy nonsense, and that stupid Jurassic Fight Club show (which is nothing more than the wet dreams of some paleontologists).

Cities of the Underworld and Ancient Discoveries at least feature History.

Nobody’s mentioned 17 Kids and Counting starring the Dugger family yet? Soon to be 18 Kids and Counting, plus any grandchildren now that Josh has married a girls who also wants to give birth every year.

They did the dry-ice-in-a-sealed-plastic-bottle thing, too. But they taped three bottles together and submerged them in a water tank (with a glass front to see the explosion). The plan was that the first bottle to burst would shock the others enough to burst, too. It didn’t. One bottle burst (and it blowed up good), which broke the front of the water tank and scattered the other two bottles.

Unpredictable explosives (which they essentially were) rolling around the set is not good.

Here’s my idea for the Discovery Channel. Take segments from How It’s Made, edit out the very beginning (where they show the finished product), and bleep out the narrator when he mentions what’s being made. Show these clips at bar trivia nights. Whoever is the first person to call out what is being made gets points.

(I’ve done that when channel surfing; miss the beginning and try to figure out what’s being made. It’s fun.)

It’s refreshing that I feel I can agree to disagree. I would love to see true documentaries be marketable. It infuriates me how our culture grows fat and complacent on the efforts of nerds while it simultaneously relegates them to comic relief or mad scientist roles.

However, I think the relative success (in terms of air time) of Man vs. Wild over Survivorman exemplifies our common ground. Bear Grylls has charisma, but his show seems so much more theatrical and far less legit than that of Les. That said, Survivorman with Les Stroud is probably the best thing I’ve seen on the Discovery Channel. Ever.