Discovery Channel programs becoming more dramatic
Published: Monday, September 12, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 12, 2011 16:09
I remember the days when the Discovery and History Channels had actual television shows on them. How sad is that? I'm 18 years old and I'm already telling stories to kids that start with, "When I was your age…" Ten years ago, you could turn on either of those channels and find something educational and entertaining. Now, they've been inundated with shows about logging in the mountains, logging in the swamp, logging in swampy mountains, digging for gold, fishing with your hands and fishing for gold with your hands in a deforested mountain.
The channels have begun to resemble less of their former glory and more of the current state of affairs over at E! "Keeping up with the Kardashians" and "Swamp Loggers" have almost the same subject matter. Someone is upset that someone else has been talking behind his back. An argument ensues in which the accuser storms off furious and stops talking to everyone else. Then there is an interview of both people in the argument. Then they talk at the camera for a few seconds about how the argument made them feel and about the shortcomings of whomever they were arguing with. The rest of the episode is about the argument and the drama and everyone's feelings. Finally, by the end of the episode, everyone is "friends" again, and affectionately calling each other "bitch."
Now, I don't know about you, but to me, that's a serious sign of a decline in quality. "Tales of the Gun" from 1998 didn't care about your feelings. It was all about guns. The basic outline for an episode of "Tales of the Gun" is as follows. Here's a gun. Here's the army it was used by. Here's the gun being shot in a demonstration. Now here's a halfway decent reenactment of some dude you've never heard of being awesome. He shot someone with this gun. Thanks for watching "Tales of the Gun." That's it. That's the whole episode. And it was amazing. I learned stuff from that. Now, all I'm learning from the Discovery Channel is how to use huge machines to pull trees out of dirt while I cry and whine about my feelings and how everyone is mean to me.
At least we still have "Mythbusters" and "Dirty Jobs." "Mythbusters" is all about science and explosions. They don't even have myths anymore, people just want to see things they that don't normally explode, explode. Which is totally cool, because Adam and Jamie aren't talking at a camera about how Tory made fun of their math error, and so now they're all upset. Instead, they just blow up the math error. As for "Dirty Jobs," you're actually learning. It's like an interactive documentary. You get to watch cool stuff happen at jobs you might never have even known existed. That, to me, is good programming.
But instead of more shows that enhance your intelligence, you're stuck with a remake of the Jersey Shore that takes place in some really icy place with a lot of trucks. "Ice Truckers" is about driving trucks on ice. All I want is something I can watch and learn something from without wanting to claw my eyes out during the commercial breaks.
And if you break it down even further, you realize that there are actually people who watch these shows. They make sure they have time to sit down and watch multiple episodes of a show called "When Fish Attack." The reality shows have somehow earned the ratings to stay on both the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.
Take the reality TV to channels that are made for those shows—E!, MTV, VH1, they'd be happy to have them. Just please leave the Discovery Channel alone.
Dillon McLaughlin is a guest columnist for The Review. His viewpoints do not necessarily represent those of the Review staff. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.