Monday, 4 March 2013

BBC's Horizon "dumbing down" reaches a zenith

On Sunday evening (yesterday) I watched "Meteor Strike: Fireball from Space" on Channel 4, about the Russian Meteor of late. It was interesting, largely factual, as far as I could tell, and showed much footage from "dash-cams" and CCTV. The dash-cam (dashboard camera) sequences showed silent shots of the meteor streaking overhead - silent shots of course, because dash-cams don't usually record sound, they don't need to. Some dash-cams and CCTV on the street, in schools, shops and offices recorded the flash as the meteor passed, and in some cases showed the brighter flash of the explosion as it broke up. The CCTV also recorded the effects of the arrival of the delayed shock-wave some minutes later - some recorded the loud bang also.

The programme noted that in Chelyabinsk, both the bang of the explosion and the resultant shock-wave arrived some 3 minutes later, indicating that the explosion occurred some 30 miles away. Much was made of the delay - people weren't prepared for either and were clearly shocked and surprised, and in some cases injured by flying objects and broken glass. The programme was largely factual, though the simulated shots of an asteroid belt ludicrously crowded with chunks of rock (if you were on one, you'd be lucky to see another, except with a powerful telescope) , and several shots of an ominous and audibly grumbling asteroid heading for Earth tested my patience (in space, no-one can hear you scream - no air to transmit sound).

Over to BBC 2 at 2100, immediately after the Channel 4 programme, to watch "The Truth About Meteors: A Horizon Special" presented by Professor Iain Stewart. Within a few minutes, we see an identical shot to one shown on the Channel 4 programme, taken from a car waiting at traffic-lights at a large street-junction in Chelyabinsk. As before, we see the meteor streaking from left to right, low across the dawn sky, but now with a roar followed by a loud bang synchronised with the bright flash as the meteor explodes. It's a fake soundtrack added for the benefit of idiot (as the Horizon producers clearly see them) viewers who apparently don't know that sound travels thousands of times slower than light. It's an example of dumbing-down of the worst kind, and it's this kind of sensationalism and fakery that turned me off Horizon programs many years ago.

I put up with the scientifically inaccurate crowded asteroid belt and grumbling meteor in the Channel 4 programme because the rest was well worth watching, but the unnecessary and totally misleading faked soundtracks on the Horizon programme guaranteed I switched to another channel - any channel, before my precious "home cinema" suffered the almost inevitable consequences.

Smarten up, Horizon producers, and sharpen up, Channel 4 producers. There are far too many urban and scientific myths already out there, without smart-arse condescending producers adding to them.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that someone else has noticed how ridiculous horizon has become. So many utterly pointless shots and bits of mysterious music to break up the fact that people are only talking about anything for about 40% of the show. No words over 2 syllables. So many straw men