Don’t all of us wish that watching TV could be simultaneously rewarding in the sense that it helped us in building acumen. Since long the stigma that has been attached to watching TV for excessive durations and the all too familiar adage of “Watching TV rots your brain!” discourages those of us who find joy and enlightenment in watching TV shows. Yes, being glued to the TV all the time isn’t particularly enriching but that doesn’t mean that all TV shows share the same characteristics. There are TV shows out there that will actually make you smarter in one way or the other. This is the single most advantageous perk that the advancement of technology has brought about today which has resulted in TV shows spanning a great number of subjects, from wildlife channels, science shows, myth busting men in brown jumpsuits to history dramas, criminology shows which teach the ’science of deduction’ and the like. The wonderful world of television is as informative as it is entertaining. Here are a few TV shows that will help you gain those extra brownie points in class and impress your friends.
Host Bill Nye’s personality and his ability to seamlessly integrate all topics by relating concepts to one another made this show a favourite among school-going children. The show has won 19 Emmy Awards and is a continued favourite among children of all ages to this day even though it is no longer on air. The premise for each episode was a particular topic in science. Bill Nye used action and humour to his advantage in his own inimitable way to pique audience interests and keep them entertained. Each episode was capped by a music video summarizing the episode with lyrics substituting a popular song.
Discovery Atlas is a television series which is a product of the hugely popular Discovery Channels. This particular venture focuses on the cultural, sociological, and natural aspects of different countries by exploring those countries through their people, culture, traditions, and lands. Each episode is in the form of a documentary which aims to capture and follow the lives and individual struggles of locals while also diving into the countries’ history and culture.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey first made waves as a science documentary television series under the name of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage with acclaimed American astronomer, cosmologist and astrophysicist Carl Sagan as its host. The show was rechristened to its current title when it appeared as a follow-up to its predecessor in the year 2014. The show aims to educate its viewers by presenting novel revelations about time and space in a reboot of the original “Cosmos” documentary series. The show is presented by eminent astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who claims to have been inspired as a young high school student, by Carl Sagan. The viewers are taken on a journey through space and time, accompanied with Mr. Tyson’s narrative as he explains about the discovery of the laws of nature and co-ordinates in space and time.
This particularly interesting TV show takes ordinary items present in our daily life and shows how they are manufactured. The items profiled have included contact lenses, cello tape, boomerangs, lollipops, and bicycle helmets among others. In the background, the narrator narrates the goings-on of the manufacturing process, which can be adjusted to the regional language of the country or region in which the show is being aired. This TV show is particularly informative as much as it is entertaining to watch everyday items being manufactured right in front of your eyes.
This science entertainment TV show is perhaps the most popular on this list. Created and produced by Australia’s beyond Television Productions, this show is co-hosted by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. The hosts use contemporary scientific methods to test the legitimacy and credibility of various myths, urban legends, internet stories, news stories and rumours. At the end of each episode the myths are either busted or confirmed. The show has been in production since 2003 and is one of the more widely known elements present on this list. Since its inception, the team has completed 2,391 experiments and used 12 tons of explosives to test 769 myths.
NOVA is the oldest participant on this list. It has been on air since 1974. The show interviews scientists who perform research on a topic, which in turn serves as the premise for that particular episode. It also occasionally includes footage of a particular discovery. The topics covered in this series have ranged from AIDS, acid rain, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, global warming, storm chasing, Tarim mummies, bioterrorism, moissanite, Fermat’s Last Theorem, and Siamese twins. Some episodes have also focussed on the history of science. The NOVA programs have been critically acclaimed for their good pacing, clear writing and crisp editing.
Frontline, stylised as FRONTLINE, is a public affairs television program which much like Discovery Atlas, produces and broadcasts in-depth documentaries about various subjects. One of the older participants on this list, FRONTLINE has been on air since 1983 and has a total of over 600+ episodes. Since the series debuted on January 17, 1983 there have been more than 500 films broadcasted. What makes FRONTLINE so popular is that they don’t adhere to a particular niche, instead making documentaries on every subject imaginable. From examining the links between organized crime, gambling, and professional football in the United States of America, to taking a look at the most controversial educational reformers in the modern era, the show touches on just about every issue an audience can think of.
T.V has long been denigrated as a mind-numbing device. But with the emergence of these T.V shows, that perception has changed drastically. One of the great things about modern television is that it can be simultaneously entertaining and instructive. Tune into these shows to stimulate your mind apart from being entertained. Go educate yourself!
Avik Mallick is a content writer and curator, who has an affinity for reading. In a former life, he was a trainee at a manufacturing industry. A writer by day and a reader by night, he is a lover of literary works of any kind. When not within the confines of a four-wall enclosure, head buried in a book, he likes to devote all of his energies to playing football, cooking, listening, and criticising music.