Old PBS Show - Need the name

Actually, there were two very similar shows, as I recall, both hosted by the same man. Each show was focused at some level on the interconnections of how various technological advancements occurred. For example, he would take some modern technology and relate it to some seemingly unrelated and innocuous old thing, and then show how the two were actually related.

Does anyone remember the names of these two shows? One had an intro where a glass sphere was interposed in the view…

I Hate Memory and Age. :mad:

Sounds like “Connections” to me. Hosted by James Burke.

I kind of remember another show, but that memory is elusive.

That would be “Connections”, hosted by James Burke.

You’re welcome!

This Wikipedia article on James Burke lists his various TV shows. The other major one, besides Connections which ran several seasons, was The Day the Universe Changed (1985). Unique presenter or arcane information.

I have no idea. I doubt there were any show like that. You sure you weren’t thinking of the Oxygen network?

Thank-you, one and all. :slight_smile:

Obviously Oxygen is what my brain was deprived of, Shagnasty. :eek: :o :smack:

God, I wish they’d come out with the The Day the Universe Changed on DVD.

The Day the Universe Changed and Connections both have accompanying books, and Burke’s written several similar books besides. Connections had at least 3 seasons as well. The original was the best though.

One caveat though: I like these shows and the books a lot and they’re generally accurate- but don’t accept any statements from them as gospel until its verified. Burke sometimes simplifies facts (necessary for television) and while I haven’t found any whopping errors there are some that aren’t altogether right. (One of the first things I ever got corrected about on this board, for instance, came from Burke’s book The Axemaker’s Gift, in which he stated that phonetic alphabets are always written horizontally while pictographic alphabets are almost always written vertically, which turns out to have too many exceptions to be regarded as true.)

Generally both shows hold up well, but there are some funny moments due to the changing times. I believe it was the final episode of Universe where Burke goes into an Elizabethan style English manor house and uses a computer- he likes the juxtaposition of very old and cutting edge. This is the late 1970s so the computer works on 5.25 floppies and has a screen the size of this textbox and was basically a $4,000 word processor- waaaayyy more dated than the house.

Mainly though I really really wanted to be James Burke when I saw these series- he goes to Samos and Egypt and India and everywhere else while narrating. Great job for a science historian.

I remember really enjoying the first series, but then read one of his later books or saw one of the later series and it seemed that the connections between inventions that he was describing was tenuous at best.

I have the first book*, and can recommend it highly. Not as history, so much, as historical philosophy. It’s easy to nitpick the details but the broad sweep is pretty inarguable. And that’s what Burke is about, isn’t he?

The show isn’t on DVD, but it does air from time to time on the Science Channel. I have a TiVo wishlist for “hosted by James Burke” or some such (don’t recall the exact text). It picks up the most remarkable stuff sometimes.

He’s definitely a minor deity in my personal Heroverse.

*Strictly speaking, a fellow Doper has the book, on loan. But it’s mine. Mine!

In finishing up my long-delayed college degree, I took a class where we had to watch the original Connections series again. It was like a return to childhood.

The original mini-series was building to a climax: It detailed a small number of technologies (plastics and other high-performance materials, computers, etc.) and showed how they sprung from completely unrelated noodling around from centuries before. He then showed how each of these technologies is used in (then-)modern machines of mass destruction, like bombers. He emphasized how we needed to change our understanding of history and research.

The later series were more disjointed, IMO.

Holy crap, Connections IS on DVD now!

I was just trying to describe Connections to my fiance the other day, as he recently discovered his love of science shows and PBS specials.

I used to watch it with my parents. Was there a version called Connections2 or was that just a re-airing? I remember a 2.

and a 3 :smiley:

:smiley: I discovered that while I was researching my earlier post, which in its original draft bemoaned the lack of this DVD as well.

But NetFlix only has 2 & 3! What the hell?

Holy crap it’s marked price is $400! (Though it’s $150 at Amazon and other places.)

I heard James Burke speak around 2000 at the U. of Alabama. Very good speaker, very funny. I didn’t get to meet him but he seemed genuinely nice.

I was able to buy the original Connections DVD series for $80! It was a site that mostly sells to colleges, but didn’t require you be one! :smiley: Can’t remember what it was though. DTUC still isn’t out though.

When I hear some people complain about Connections I try to explain that they’re sort of missing the point.

Its not so much that Burke was trying to prove that, Ah-Ha!, the atom bomb wouldn’t be here if some 14[sup]th[/sup] Century Franciscan monk hadn’t needed to take a crap on Easter sunday etc.

He’s saying that everything is connected, and he’s just showing you one route among millions. That History is always taught as having the benefit of hindsight, a means to an end, but that in the real world it doesn’t work that way at all.

His sequel series, Connections[sup]2[/sup] and [sup]3[/sup] were ok, but they were much more casual and limited in scope compared to the original.

He also did a special After the Warming about 15 years ago, before global warming was vogue. And although I don’t agree with the science it was still an interesting show.

Actually, I meant Day the Universe Changed isn’t on DVD. And as has been observed, unless you’ve got $400 burning a hole in your pocket, Connections might as well not be on DVD either. :stuck_out_tongue: