What is the Best Science TV Show of All Time?

My first thought on hearing this question was fiction or non-fiction?


I ask because I can remember a few TV shows from when I was younger that got me interested in the world of nature and led to my interest in science. Daktari immediately springs to mind as does Flipper.
Non-fiction wise I would have to go with Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom starring St. Louisan Marlin Perkins.
I used to spend hours glued to the TV watching these shows. All three, in different ways, instilled an appreciation for the wonder and variety of nature (I have a theory that part of the reason creationists are creationists is that they do not know how diverse the animal and plant world is – which instills a typological attitude towards nature).
A close, non-fiction, runner up is Bill Nye, the Science Guy

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14 Responses

  1. Oooooh! Daktari! How could I have forgotten that! I loved it when I was a little kid.

  2. Mr. Wizard, without doubt.

  3. Carl Sagan

  4. Cosmos was great, I don’t know how I forget to mention that…Bronkowski’s show (I forget the name of it) was good too.
    Coturnix – yeah it was great. You’d think it would be a great candidate for cable, or release on DVD, but no such luck…

  5. For the Brits in the audience: Tomorrow’s World.

  6. Definitely Cosmos.

  7. COSMOS!!
    As parodied as it is, I still get chills when I hear the phrase “We are, all of us, star-stuff.”
    cheers!

  8. I think if NOVA had had the good sense to go off the air after the first ten years or fifteen years, it would be held in much higher regard today. One of my strongest TV memories from childhood is stumbling across the premiere episode (a history of anesthesia) and being completely blown away.
    At some point it devolved into alternating war-porn with the bleeding obvious, and I lost interest. I believe the last episode I watched was the Judith Miller propaganda-fest about bioterrorism, which wiped out my last remaining shred of good will toward the show. But it was once terrific.
    (Perhaps if I had more of a science background, I would have been less impressed with NOVA from the git-go. As a musician, I’m still astounded that more people couldn’t see that Ken Burns’s Jazz was a complete travesty.)

  9. Ken Burn’s Jazz a travesty? Why do you hate America (kidding)?

  10. Nova. Unfortunately my current situation doesn’t allow me to see PBS any more so I don’t know if this show is still of the uniform high quality I remember it being.Also shows like James Burke’s Day the Universe Changed and the several connections series.

  11. In terms of stats, apparently the most widely watched continuous non-fiction science TV show was The Nature of Things with David Suzuki

  12. Afarensis, It’s not so much that I hate America, but that I love jazz, and have spent decades studying its history and practice. The worst thing about Burns’s Jazz is that while there are mountains of memoirs, oral histories, and historical documents relating to the history of jazz, Burns completely ignored all of it in order to present the bizaare social-conservative rantings of Stanley Crouch as fact.
    I do think expertise in a field can make watching any popular presentation of that field painful. As a scientist, are there any science shows you find especially egregious?

  13. I was kidding about that. I thought Burn’s documentary relied too heavily on what Wynton thought was important…To answer your question, pretty much any show on human evolution drives me straight up the wall – especially all that cheesy CGI.

  14. As a kid / teenager, I could not get enough of the Sir David Attenborough trilogy – Life on Earth, The Living Planet and The Trials of Life.
    “I have climbed to the top of this cactus-encrusted mountain in 142 degree heat to find this…”

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