January 31, 2005

Blowing Your Top

Go here for a little experiment in building your own volcano. It's part of the promotional website tied into the Discovery Channel's airing of Pompeii: The Last Day last night. After the barrage of hype (there have been posters up in Dee Cee's Metro system for a couple of months), I broke down and decided to watch it.

Well, it was pretty much Dante's Peak meets Gladiator. Katherine Mangu-Ward over at the Weekly Standard liked it, but I must say that the Missus and I were both disappointed. Coo-el special effects, to be sure, and some half-way decent acting, but you didn't really learn very much about vulcanology, Pompeii itself (and the greater Imperial Roman culture around it) or the history of archeological digs there, beyond the odd tidbits. What I found particularly infuriating was the failure to explain how the dramatizations were put together. But I suppose too much science would have taken away from the human drama side, which seemed to be what the producers were most interested in pushing.

Posted by Robert at January 31, 2005 01:38 PM

You've nailed my biggest criticism of The Discovery Channel: In trying to make science entertaining, they've given the scientific information a back seat to the entertainment value.

God, I miss Bill Nye.

Posted by: Brian B at January 31, 2005 02:19 PM

I think they created stories around the plaster castings done of the victims. At one point they mentioned that there had been a rich woman (had lots of money) found in the gladiators' quarters. Same with the slave girl in the inn.
Bill Nye's recently surfaced on the Science Channel.

Posted by: Robert at January 31, 2005 07:47 PM

Ya don't say. I'll have to consider getting it, but right now increased cable service is low on my priority list.

I love that show, even if most of the science is basic stuff I already get. He's just so quirky funny and enthusiastic about learning -- reminds me of myself. I also recall a lot of his cast on the skit comedy show Almost Live. They really did a good job of lampooning Pacific Northwest culture.

Posted by: Brian B at February 1, 2005 05:32 PM
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