By, Dakota Wiegand
I have to give my dad credit for putting up with the binge watching of cartoons that I have been doing for the last couple of years. Almost every time he sees me, I’m watching either hockey or a cartoon series to review. Each and every time he asks what I am watching and doesn’t say much after that. However, after I started binge watching Bill Nye The Science Guy, he just couldn’t help but ask me, “How old are you?” I responded back by putting up two fingers and saying, “This many!” I had to admit; I was asking myself the same thing. The show is from my childhood and has possibly the catchiest theme song ever created that I still sing it! But let me take you through the show.
Bill Nye The Science Guy premiered on PBS Kids in September of 1993 and ran for 5 seasons, a total of 100 episodes, until June of 1998. The show was syndicated which allowed viewers to view the show on other channels than just PBS. Throughout its run, the show brought in 19 Daytime Emmy Awards in various categories including Outstanding Children’s Series. In 2013, Walt Disney Studios released the entire series n DVD as part of a 20th anniversary.
The show takes place primarily in “Nye Laboratories” which I can only assume is based in Seattle, judging by the fact that he had Seattle athletes on the show, the beach and a rainforest, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The lab is sealed behind a giant steel studded door that you can get in by punching a code in at the door’s keypad. Inside, various experiments, normally being done by children, can be seen going on in the background.
Now the main character of the show is Bill Nye, who is the Science Guy. A knowledgeable force on all things science, he mainly walks children through different facts and science experiments throughout the show. He’s a quirky guy who is really animated about science and has had probably way too much coffee before every show. My favorite part of his character though is when the show intentionally leaves in bloopers and you can see him getting frustrated with some things and his inability to get a scene done correctly. You can tell he takes his acting very seriously, but that’s good because if he didn’t, I don’t think the show would have ran for 5 seasons.
Now I always wondered about the Science Guy if he was a doctor in any field. Upon a Wikipedia search… he’s actually not. However, he is very intelligent! He is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is part of the Planetary Society and does have lectures at Cornell in astronomy from time to time. He has engineered key parts of the Boeing 747 and was a consultant in the aeronautics field. He got his start on a Seattle based show called Almost Live! where he had a 6 minute segment called The Science Guy. The guy has lived a very interesting life, so I strongly suggest reading up on him! But, let’s get back to the review!
The show has a reoccurring cast of Jr. Scientists, aka children in lab coats, who help conduct children friendly science experiments that the viewers can try at home. There are about 10 of them, but you don’t really ever learn their names… or maybe I just didn’t care to learn them? Either way, they normally don’t contribute too much to the educational process!
The craziest part of the show is the cameos the show has! You had Scottie from Star Trek, so many Seattle based sport stars, and various scientists of different fields, and the list can just keep going on!
The show breaks itself down into a very similar pattern per episode. You have the intro, followed by the theme song, then if the show is sponsored by dirt or air or something, then he does an initial experiment summarizing what he is going over and he then has segments like “Consider the following,” “Did you know that?” and “Nifty Home Experiment.” Then the show gets wrapped up with a spoof on a hit song where they turn it into a song based on the topic of the show, mainly rap and hip hop songs. With all the chaos that takes place in the show, its actually kind of nice having these little segments thrown in there. By far, “Consider the Follow” was my favorite part of the show due to the fact that it was probably the most provocative part of the show. It actually made the audience think of some cool things and got your head working.
Now the main question when you look at an educational show is does the audience actually learn something? My answer: yes. Despite the constant ear bleeding, head splitting cartoon noises, there is actually educational value to the show! It was a refresher to me watching the shows, digging up things I learned way back in elementary school and Junior High. It was actually refreshing to get to kick start my brain a little bit, but you have to be careful because the show’s constant noise and randomness may make you forget what you learned.
Now the show does have some heavy topics, like HIV/AIDS and Hunger. They handled HIV and AIDS very well, reinforcing the fact that its not an easily spreadable disease and they also toned down on the gags for that episode. Hunger was part of the nutrition episode and that was going well until the Science Guy wanted to explain in a passionate rant about how hunger effects all of us. The thing is, it started off making some great points, but the show started to fast forward him with a matching sound effect and had a kid pretty much say, “Science Guy is very passionate about this, but its above your pay-grade kid” and they skipped the whole thing! If you want to make a point, make it! Don’t start on it and pretty much back hand the audience saying that its an important subject but not important enough to have 90 seconds in this show! What the fuck! I literally shouted what the fuck at my computer when I saw that. Its so weird because in other episodes he does promote the importance of taking care of the Earth, the atmosphere, and the ocean. They talked about AIDS and all that, but they cannot address hunger? Food Network addresses hunger! But whatever…
The last thing I want to bring up about the show is the target market. It’s a little odd to talk about in a kids show, because you think that kids are just who the show is geared for. But, you pick up rather quickly that the show is definitely more geared for lower income, inner-city kids. Most of the music in the show is geared for those kids as well as some of the kids that appear on the show. It’s not meant for affluent kids who have better odds of getting into this stuff. The show acts as a way to get these kids to get interested in science and the environment to hopefully set them up for a more successful life. That is a really cool fact about the show and makes up for some of the dumb stuff that they do.
The show is fun in the right mindset but can get on your nerves and brainwash you if you binge watch it. If you want to be nostalgic, definitely take a look! If you want an easy way to jar your memory for a specific science subject, go for it! If you want to shut your kids up for 22 minutes and hope they take something out of the show, this is for you! Overall, it was fun to remember watching this as a kid and what it brought to the table. It has its severe problems, but it makes up for it in its quirkiness.
PS: This show has the catchiest theme song of all time! It hasn’t left my head in 20 years!!!
Show rating: B
Watch what I was talking about!
Bill Nye The Science Guy www.youtube.com/user/billnyeth…