TV review: Bang Goes The Theory

In most TV markets, it’s hard to imagine the largest network broadcasting a science show in a prime-time slot on its main channel. However, that’s just what the British Broadcasting Corporation is doing with Bang Goes The Theory.

One reason is that the BBC is publicly funded and as such has a remit to educate and inform as well as entertain. The other main reason for the scheduling is that the Monday 7.30pm slot is head to head with Coronation Street, a soap opera which regularly tops the ratings. With little hope of getting strong audiences at this time, the BBC often uses the slot to house shows which are worthy but unlikely to pull big numbers.

That’s not to say Bang Goes The Theory is not aimed at a mainstream audience. Building on the experience of Tomorrow’s World, the channel’s popular science show which ran from 1965 to 2003, its name gives away the concept: science explained through spectacular demonstrations.

The debut episode featured three main experiments and an interview, all of which can be viewed at the show’s official site (UK only, though several clips are available officially through YouTube). The main attraction was a vortex cannon tested, in Three Little Pigs style, on walls made of straw, sticks and bricks:

The show also explored Gait recognition (the tracking of human movement) and showed that it’s possible to cook an egg in a pan made of paper. That’s because the ignition point of paper is much higher than people imagine: as Ray Bradbury fans will know, it’s 451 degrees Fahrenheit. There was also an interview with J. Craig Venter, the founder of the Institute for Genomic Research.

There were certainly weaknesses in the show: even with the demonstrations and explanations, I was still a little confused about how exactly the vortex cannon worked. There’s a fine balance between explaining a concept in scientific detail and keeping the audience engaged, though in a debut episode it’s probably better to err to the latter.

There was also a notably awkward segment after the Venter interview where the presenters tried to put across both sides of the ethical debate over his work; it appeared they were attempting to represent the viewpoint of Ventor’s critics for the sake of balance, but without wanting to be seen as giving credibility to those views.

Overall, though, it was a promising start, reflected in an audience of 3.2 million: unspectacular but solid given the scheduling. It certainly reflected the popular science technique of providing the wow before the how.

Advertisements
Advertisement




32 Responses to TV review: Bang Goes The Theory

  1. I'm surprised you didn't mention just how closely the name is to the popular comedy, "The Big Bang Theory". I think it's safe to say they're hoping to steal some of the audience from that show.

    • The BBC actually have a much catchier title though, even by just arranging those few words.

      I'm betting ABC are kicking themselves for not having thought of that little quirky pun.

      Still, I'm hoping the name doesn't make it seem too similar, as it seems like a nice little show in itself, and I think viewers should give it a chance.

      Having said that, the test was blatently wholly unscientific. Normally, in an experiment, only one variable changes (or if more change, they test every possiblity of them).

      To have a whole little hut made of straw and sticks, with the same gas mix, is fair.

      But to then say it can knock over any bricks when it's quite clearly just a wall (rather than a four-walled hut), and with a whole other gas mix, doesn't add any credibility to the claim at all.

      Kinda ruined it for me as a geek. It'll interest idle viewers who can't see past that, though.

  2. I’m surprised you didn’t mention just how closely the name is to the popular comedy, “The Big Bang Theory”. I think it’s safe to say they’re hoping to steal some of the audience from that show.

    • The BBC actually have a much catchier title though, even by just arranging those few words.

      I’m betting ABC are kicking themselves for not having thought of that little quirky pun.

      Still, I’m hoping the name doesn’t make it seem too similar, as it seems like a nice little show in itself, and I think viewers should give it a chance.

      Having said that, the test was blatently wholly unscientific. Normally, in an experiment, only one variable changes (or if more change, they test every possiblity of them).

      To have a whole little hut made of straw and sticks, with the same gas mix, is fair.

      But to then say it can knock over any bricks when it’s quite clearly just a wall (rather than a four-walled hut), and with a whole other gas mix, doesn’t add any credibility to the claim at all.

      Kinda ruined it for me as a geek. It’ll interest idle viewers who can’t see past that, though.

  3. Agree w/ you thougths andrew, but just the same I was very impressed with the high speed slow motion reply.. love it .. I wonder if he has posted the specs online anywhere for geek land & DIY's

    -ciao

  4. Agree w/ you thougths andrew, but just the same I was very impressed with the high speed slow motion reply.. love it .. I wonder if he has posted the specs online anywhere for geek land & DIY’s

    -ciao

  5. It's science for people who dont know much about science.

    Regrettably, adults who dont know much about science, dont WANT to know much about science which leaves this show open pretty exclusive to kids, teenagers and the excessively bored. Good Luck BBC.

    The newbie cast is also damned irritating, reminds me of blue peter.

  6. It’s science for people who dont know much about science.

    Regrettably, adults who dont know much about science, dont WANT to know much about science which leaves this show open pretty exclusive to kids, teenagers and the excessively bored. Good Luck BBC.

    The newbie cast is also damned irritating, reminds me of blue peter.

  7. I just chanced to be in front of the TV instead of my laptop when this came on. Didn't realise it was the first episode. I did quite enjoy it though. I consider myself to be pretty well informed of developments in modern science but still found it entertaining. I would compare it to something like the one show except interesting. I don't know whether it is combined with a website that makes up for its shortfallings but it should be.

  8. I just chanced to be in front of the TV instead of my laptop when this came on. Didn’t realise it was the first episode. I did quite enjoy it though. I consider myself to be pretty well informed of developments in modern science but still found it entertaining. I would compare it to something like the one show except interesting. I don’t know whether it is combined with a website that makes up for its shortfallings but it should be.

  9. Big Bang Theory also popped into my mind when I read the title. Honestly, this kind of show isn't really for me, as it tries to make science TOO fun, instead of explaining it in detail how I like it.

    I'm more of a Big Bang Theory fan myself anyway

  10. Big Bang Theory also popped into my mind when I read the title. Honestly, this kind of show isn’t really for me, as it tries to make science TOO fun, instead of explaining it in detail how I like it.

    I’m more of a Big Bang Theory fan myself anyway

  11. It's like a giggly version of Mythbusters. It didn't start too promisingly, too many previews, overly bubbly enthusiasm and cuteness, silly setups, camera zooms/angles and fluff in the first story – very annoying. However, it got better. When they actually focused on the science and experiments, rather than the fluff, it was more interesting. The smoke ring machine wasn't bad and the bit on Dr Craig Venter was interesting, but too superficial – I would have loved to hear a more in-depth analysis of his current work. I think the show could have benefited from a longer running time so they could spend more time on the interesting bits rather then glossing over them.

  12. It’s like a giggly version of Mythbusters. It didn’t start too promisingly, too many previews, overly bubbly enthusiasm and cuteness, silly setups, camera zooms/angles and fluff in the first story – very annoying. However, it got better. When they actually focused on the science and experiments, rather than the fluff, it was more interesting. The smoke ring machine wasn’t bad and the bit on Dr Craig Venter was interesting, but too superficial – I would have loved to hear a more in-depth analysis of his current work. I think the show could have benefited from a longer running time so they could spend more time on the interesting bits rather then glossing over them.

  13. Damien, you are absolutely right about this being a "giggly version of Mythbusters". Utterly cringeworthy to watch and unoriginal with it – the Mythbusters did the suction pump climber years ago. Mythbusters is superb and the BBC are trying to cash in on their success. Shame they couldn't come up with something decent that didn't remind me of Blue Peter.

    Just seen the bloke wink to camera in episode 3….terrible.

  14. Damien, you are absolutely right about this being a “giggly version of Mythbusters”. Utterly cringeworthy to watch and unoriginal with it – the Mythbusters did the suction pump climber years ago. Mythbusters is superb and the BBC are trying to cash in on their success. Shame they couldn’t come up with something decent that didn’t remind me of Blue Peter.

    Just seen the bloke wink to camera in episode 3….terrible.

  15. I think some of you are too lenient about quality of the show. I was looking forward to watching the first episode, but it managed to dashed my expectations so expertly and left me feeling a bit cheated.

    Apart from the naming similarity to the BBT, I think this is being scheduled strategically to be just before the Gadget Show on C5.

  16. I think some of you are too lenient about quality of the show. I was looking forward to watching the first episode, but it managed to dashed my expectations so expertly and left me feeling a bit cheated.

    Apart from the naming similarity to the BBT, I think this is being scheduled strategically to be just before the Gadget Show on C5.

  17. Poorly designed scientific experiments, wooden presenters who are very irritating and appear to be unable to communicate difficult concepts well or interestingly. A real shame. Doesn't do much to improve the view of scienc in my opinion.

  18. Poorly designed scientific experiments, wooden presenters who are very irritating and appear to be unable to communicate difficult concepts well or interestingly. A real shame. Doesn’t do much to improve the view of scienc in my opinion.

  19. Why does this article keep getting dragged up a month after it was posted?

    No other article seems to get the same amount of comments so long after it was posted on this site.

    Is there some sort of smear campaign on the programme or something going on?

    I admit I don't like it, but it seems as if every few days, some 'new' person is commenting on how much it sucks, which is odd compared to the other things people have complained about on this site but then fades a week or two after it was first posted.

    Can someone look into the IP addresses of the commenters or something?

  20. Why does this article keep getting dragged up a month after it was posted?

    No other article seems to get the same amount of comments so long after it was posted on this site.

    Is there some sort of smear campaign on the programme or something going on?

    I admit I don’t like it, but it seems as if every few days, some ‘new’ person is commenting on how much it sucks, which is odd compared to the other things people have complained about on this site but then fades a week or two after it was first posted.

    Can someone look into the IP addresses of the commenters or something?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.