CHRISTOPHER STEVENS Reviews Last Night’s TV: Gushing? This was so two a Disney princess would blush
H20: the molecule that made us
gushing? This was so two a Disney princess would blush
Beware of the tarxic fowm! No, you don’t say it that way. . . try ‘Tarxic! How so!’ Yes, that’s better, but do it harder. TARXIC! FOWM!
Good. Now you sound like Kelly McEvers, the woman with the most annoying American accent ever broadcast. Kelly, a 50-year-old radio journalist from Chicago, presented H20: The Molecule That Made Us (BBC4) — a “podcast-style documentary,” whatever that is.
It seemed to mean littering her speech with exclamations and saying trite things like revelations. ‘Water is the blueprint of civilization!’ and: ‘Water is the bloodstream of the earth. . . and life is the result!’
It’s hard to explain how annoying this was until you know how Kelly says “water.” Hold your nose and yell, “WAHH!-dur.” Now do it 500 times. That was the voice over.
H20: The Molecule That Made Us showed viewers foam on the surface of the Rio Tiete in Brazil
Aerial photography, with a scientist named Greg Asner, got her very excited. Can see Greg’s cameras! The chemical composition of Each! Tree!’ We watched stop-motion footage of nebulae rising over the Amazon rainforest, where ‘clouds move like a river! Just this river. . . Is in the air!’
As if this wasn’t enough, Kelly replaced scientific jargon with two sentences for a five-year-old Disney princess. With his water-sensitive cameras, Greg was dubbed “the drought fighter.” A researcher tracking moth migration uploaded his data to ‘the internet of wings’. Worst of all, the spores released by Amazon plants were often referred to as “fairy dust.”
The scientists also behaved like children on a school trip. A geologist, rummaging through a bed of boulders in Greenland, found something that made him gasp: “Holy, holy, holy cow!” We zoomed in on a rock, supposedly the oldest fossil ever found, but nothing more was said about it. Maybe it was just fairy dust.
Designers Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe halfway through the Channel 4 dressing room makeover
The ‘tarxic fowm’ was chemical pollution on the surface of the Rio Tiete in Brazil. . . ‘the saddest picture of a river I’ve ever seen!’ Kelly called it.
Nostalgic joke of the evening:
Making a bookshelf for an elementary school, the trainee chippies at Jay’s Yorkshire Workshop (BBC2) always seem to have a cup of tea on the go. Carpenter Jabbar didn’t want sugar: ‘I’m sweet enough!’ He smiled. I didn’t know anyone said that.
Shots from rioting in the neighboring city of Sao Paulo showed civil unrest during a drought, although Kelly did not explain that this happened seven years ago.
Instead, she cut to another scientist who told us the Earth was in “intensive care” and that multiple organ failure is happening on our planet right now. All this melodrama and hyperventilation is probably very effective when chopped up into 15 second chunks and posted on social media by teenagers.
That’s undoubtedly what Kelly McEvers is trying to achieve with a “podcast-style documentary.” But it’s not mature journalism, and it has nothing to do with BBC4.
Hyperventilation is better suited to locker rooms (C4), where Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen ignores every request from the homeowners while turning their living rooms into psychedelic fever dreams.
Sister Teresa and her husband Andrew in Cardiff asked for pale, muted colors, and certainly not black. Laurence gave them ‘blingissimo – modernism with the volume open’. This meant boxing in their fireplace and wallpapering their TV cabinets. . . including the front.
Teresa tried to say something good, but the best she could say was, “I’m not a fan of the black curtains. They look like a funeral home.’
She’d already cried a lot over what was being done to her friends’ house down the street, knowing they’d hate it—with “Neapolitan ice colors” and green wall tiles like the inside of a station toilet.
Mischief is fun, but these makeovers came dangerously close to resentment.