You know it’s the doldrums of summer when even The Tonight Show is cutting back its new episodes during the summer. The week of July 30 continued the season’s trend (echoed throughout the year) of a notable dip in science and technology content.
What little I can offer comes from repeats from daytime programs, items I likely missed the first time around. The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Harry have been in repeats all summer. On Tuesday the 31st the show reaired an episode from May featuring Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. They co-host a crafting/making competition show called Making It currently airing on NBC. The next day the Ellen repeat (from featured perennial visitor to these posts Jim Parsons, who plays a scientist on The Big Bang Theory. Not to be outdone (but unaware of being in competition), the Thursday August 2 repeat of Harry featured former astronaut Peggy Whitson.
During the week in question, a topic for many late night shows was a paper in Science suggesting a lake of liquid water on Mars. As Stephen Colbert noted in his monologue (jump to roughly 2:25) on the July 27th edition of The Late Show, it didn’t get a big splash, at least in the United States. Whether that’s due to the constant ruckus pouring out of Washington, D.C. overshadowing other news, or that NASA was a joint partner in the spacecraft that gathered the data, I have no idea.
In keeping with the relative dearth of science and technology guests this year, the biggest booking for the week was on The View. Alan Alda, actor and founder of the communicating science center at State University of New York – Stony Brook, was on the July 27th edition of the program. He’s been promoting a new podcast which emphasizes communication and is used to support and publicize his center at Stony Brook.
And that’s it. Not much to report on once again in a season where it happens less often in a year that has seen a notable drop in science and technology bookings on the late night programs.
For the second week in a row, Kate the Chemist is the name of note. She appeared on the July 20 edition of The Wendy Williams Show. However, as best as I can tell, the July 20 episode was put together with at least some segments from previous shows, as Dr. Bieberdorf’s segment originally ran on May 2 of this year. I’m sorry I missed it the first time around, but here’s video of Kate and Wendy with some science demonstrations (no fire this time).
Dr. Kate mentions a tour during the clip. No dates are announced as yet, but keep checking this space and her website for information as it emerges.
But there were other guests of note in last week’s late night (and daytime talk) programs. While many shows were back from their July 4th holiday, there were still some repeats. One of them was the July 16th edition of Conan. As is common, once again we can re-watch an appearance of one of the cast of The Big Bang Theory. Kunal Nayyar’s May appearance was rebroadcast this time around.
As it happens, Conan provides the bulk of the listings for this past week. The show broadcast from Comic Con in San Diego, and two of the guests deserve mention. One of the cast of the new Predator film, Olivia Munn, plays a science teacher in that film. And in Glass, Sarah Paulson plays a psychiatrist counseling superheros about their supposed delusions of grandeur. Their episodes aired on July 19th and July 21st, respectively.
Even if there weren’t a lot of repeats, the highlight the week of July 9th-13th in late night was certainly the July 13th edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He did science experiments with Kate the Chemist. Kate is Kate Bieberdorf, a Ph.D. chemist at the University of Texas. She is an instructor and Director of Demonstrations and Outreach at the university. And as this clips shows, she’s not afraid of fire.
During the monologue of the same episode, Colbert mentioned in passing a recent agreement by NASA and Peanuts Worldwide to continue the partnership the two entities started during the Apollo missions. (Amongst earlier partner activities were special Peanuts strips, the creation of the Silver Snoopy award, and naming the command and lunar modules of the Apollo 10 mission Charlie Brown and Snoopy.)
Colbert was not the only host talking with science demonstrators on the 13th. “Science Bob” Pflugfelder returned to his preferred show on the east coast, Live with Kelly and Ryan.
Last week the holiday reruns were in full effect. Two of them featured science and technology-themed guests. The July 6 repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! featured Evangeline Lilly, who plays one of the researchers in Ant-Man and the Wasp. She was also in a new episode of The Talk that aired on July 5.
In other repeats from last week, you could have gotten your Big Bang Theory fix when Jim Parsons’ last appearance on The Tonight Show re-aired on July 5.
And in other new programs last week, you could have seen the lead of the new CBS All Access (online streaming service in the U.S.) historical drama series Strange Angel. The show’s lead, Jack Raynor, was on the show July 5th. He plays Jack Parsons, a figure in early American rocketry that also was involved with the occult in Los Angeles.
I’ll close this post by noting a recent appearance from a scientist on the radio. Fabien Cousteau, part of the Cousteau oceanography dynasty, appeared on the NPR program Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! on June 30. Cousteau, who studies sharks, was on the show’s Not My Job segment, where notable people are asked about topics unrelated to their expertise. In his case, Cousteau was asked about the jam band Phish.
Last week marked the end of the Comedy Central program The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. The program was a satirical take on the news from the perspective of an conspiracy theorist ‘news organization.’ No word yet on what will replace the program. The lead-in for The Opposition, The Daily Show, is in repeats for the next two weeks. If past practice is any guide, any weeknight program replacement is at least a few months away.
With the Fourth of July approaching, many shows opted to take at least some of last week off. (Nearly all will do so this week.) In those repeats, you can once again catch some appearances by the cast of Silicon Valley. Thomas Middleditch’s last appearance on Conan was reran on June 25, and Kumail Nanjiani’s recent visit with James Corden aired again on the 26th.
The lone new program of note was the June 28th edition of The View. Michael Douglas was a guest. He plays Hank Pym in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Pym is a technology researcher who helped develop the technology behind both title characters.
So, there’s a new Jurassic Park film out now, and Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician. So his appearances last week on the TV merit mention here. However, one of them is the June 18th repeat from his latest Conan appearance, and he was not promoting Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at the time. However, Goldblum’s appearance that same night with Jimmy Kimmel was live and to promote that film.
There’s another Marvel movie coming out soon, and one of its stars, Evangeline Lilly, plays a researcher (and one of the title characters) in Ant-Man and the Wasp. She visited Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday the 20th and The View on Friday the 22nd.
Last Monday was the day (and night) for science and technology guests. Bill Nye’s May appearance with Carson Daly ran on the 18th. The 3rd season of Nye’s Netflix show is airing now. That morning, “Science Bob” Pflugfelder appeared on Live with Kelly and Ryan.
Carson Daly’s program also reran it’s latest episode with Jeffrey Wright on Friday the 22nd. Wright plays one of the robots on the HBO series Westworld, which just wrapped its second season.