Into the Universe With Portentous Music (and Stephen Hawking)

While I missed the controversial episode with comments about aliens, I figured I should at least take a look at the Discovery Channel's Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, so I put it on last night after putting SteelyKid to bed. This was the big two-hour "Story of Everything" episode, starting with the Big Bang and describing the whole history of the universe.

I made it through about half an hour, before I gave up and went to bed. This was partly due to it being a really long day (I took SteelyKid shopping and to a playground, did some yard work, and went to a meeting on campus), so I wasn't in a state to give it a fair shot. But, really, it was the portentous music that drove me off. It was all horns in minor keys, making it sound like each new step in the evolution of the universe was impending DOOM! Which, to be fair, fit with their emphasis on giant explosions, but it was all a bit much.

The graphics were very impressive, though. I could've done without the repeated establishing shots of Hawking's eye and the fade in/ fade out of the computer voice to remind people tuning in late who was doing the narration, but I suppose you have to make allowances for channel-surfers.

Anybody who watched the whole thing have comments?

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I saw most of it and my 8 year old son watched the whole thing. He loved it. My first take - it was definitely a form of edutainment, maybe a little too much. But you know how these things work - right? At least it wasn't grossly wrong science.

I think if the purpose was to increase the intrest level in science, it probably does that even if in an overly dramatic way.

I work in astrophysics in a department in which all but about three out of a lot of astrophysics types do work on cosmology. I've sat through enough courses, seminars, lunch talks, and colloquia that any interest I might have once had in the topic is now thoroughly dead. I find programs like this extremely twee for covering a topic that cannot be understood in any meaningful way without at least a modest background in GR or field theory.

I thought the music sounded more awe inspiring than impending doom. Overall I enjoyed it greatly even though it didn't get too technical, but that's what you need to propagate scientific knowledge to inspire people, the technical details come later.

By A. Lorence (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

He loved it. My first take - it was definitely a form of edutainment, maybe a little too much.

Yet somehow, Cosmos (now streaming on Hulu) was able to be "edutaining" without being doofy.

But you know how these things work - right

Wink-wink! Nudge-nudge! KnowwhatImean? KnowwhatImean?

But seriously people, lowering your standards never helped the world one jot.

By ?STRING TOO LONG (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

I always felt that music in minor key was better for evoking the coldness of deep space and deep time. Letâs face it, space is an unwelcoming place to be. To me a minor key speaks of cold, lonely landscapes. Desolate but magnificent.

My wife probably notices this more than I do. But if the music for a movie or documentary is not chosen carefully it really can drive you nuts. Sometimes you may not even be sure why -you just turn it off.

I think some of the best movies have great music. In fact, I don't think you can have a good movie with bad music. It wouldn't survive... People would just reject it and not watch. We would hear comments like "that plot really sucked" or whatever, when in fact the fault lay squarely on the musical problem.

By peter - home speaker (not verified) on 18 Nov 2010 #permalink