SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2016
Hawking talks down to the rubes: We're in an undisclosed location in the New York countryside, marveling at the journalistic issues raised by Ashley Parker's front-page report in the New York Times.
Perhaps we'll discuss that on Monday. For today, we'll issue our latest "beige alert" about the latest pseudo-attempt by PBS to make Einstein easy.
We refer to the new six-episode series, Genius by Stephen Hawking. The series debuted last Wednesday night. Has anyone ever been willing to con the public to the extent that Hawking was willing to do in its ridiculous Episode 1?
(We say "its" rather than "his" because we assume the series was mainly conceived and written by people other than Hawking.)
At any rate, Einstein-made-easy is a century-old con. It has never been executed in a more ridiculous fashion.
At some point in the next few weeks, we'll probably discuss this new series in some detail. But to see the extent to which PBS is willing to treat its viewers like fools, we'll suggest that you watch minutes 15-20 in the opening episode of this series, entitled "Can We Time Travel?"
Warning! You'll be observing the ruminations of three "ordinary people" "volunteers." At times, these "volunteers" seem suspiciously like budding actors working from a fairly obvious script. Three different "volunteers" will be featured in each of this program's six episodes.
(The attractive young female volunteer in Episode 1 is Education & Outreach Coordinator at La Jolla (Calif.) Playhouse, although PBS seems to working to keep you from knowing who these various "volunteers" are. In each of the first two episodes, one of the "volunteers" is a conventionally-attractive youngish woman. Presumably, this was a total coincidence, not a standard, cynical TV marketing ploy.)
What will you see in minutes 15-20? We'll only say this: That passage is so utterly incoherent that it makes Nova's incoherent hour-long broadcast last November seem like something out of the original Encyclopedia Brittanica.
As many critics have noted, this new PBS series is a type of reality TV. It also seems to be dumb as a rock. So is that front-page report in the Times.
Alas! As Kevin Drum has relentlessly noted, we were all exposed to too much lead in the last century. As we've often noted, the material rewards have become much too big for those in the news and broadcast industries. Also for certain professors!
Possible result? Go ahead! Look at minutes 15-20 of that ridiculous opening episode! Or just read today's front-page report in the cowardly, play-it-safe Times.
UPDATE: We've received an angry telephonic communication from Al Pacino concerning the brand new PBS series.
"That whole series is out of order," the irate angry movie star said.