Monday, 7 March 2011

Brian Cox and science for thickies

“Nothing happens, and it goes on not happening forever.” A description of multi-channel television in the digital age?

No. Just one of the many bland phrases trotted out buy Professor Brian Cox in his new vehicle Wonders of the Universe (BBC2 Sunday).

Here’s another of his glib phrases … “We are the cosmos made conscious.” We being humanity, apparently.

This is a most clichéd documentary from the pop musician turned academic. I expected clichés, of course, as this is television, and television does nothing very well, and it uses words atrociously because it is obsessed with moving images.

I also expected clichés because the title of the series is itself a Big Fat Boring Cliché.

And while I’m on one, this is supposedly a programme about the ”wonders of the universe” so come on, show us those wonders!Hmmm.

Can’t do that, can you, telly wallies? Coz you haven’ really been out to explore the universe yet, let alone film it.

So what did they offer us instead? Loads of shots of Cox smiling winsomely and modelling anoraks etc in deserts, snowy wastelands and mountainsides as he tries to make sense of the vastness of … everything out of his reach.

Doesn’t really work, guys, I’m afraid …

Cox did try to explore the important issues, such as the arrow of time and entropy, but did he really have to build sandcastles in the desert to illustrate that? Of course not! This is science for dummies. It’s television.

Almost everything television touches it makes moronic. TV is no good at news, at drama, at art, at science.

And Cox’s idea of explaining the vastness of the universe is simply to keep repeating “billion, billion, billion, billion” etc. Or, on occasions, “trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion”. All right Brian, WE GET IT! No need to crap on so.

Ultimately, Cox explained, “the entire cosmos will die.” Indeed, he told us that is written into the laws of physics. It might sound a bit depressing, he suggested.

You’re not wrong there, Brian.