Science and Technology Guests on Late Night, Week of August 12

The August reruns continue in earnest.  The only repeats this week of note include an April visit by Jim Parsons to The Late Show and a recent visit by Ashton Kutcher to The Tonight Show.  Parsons plays a scientist on The Big Bang Theory, and Kutcher will play Steve Jobs in a biographical film premiering in the U.S. this Friday.

In new programming, I’ll start off by noting a new MythBusters episode airing tonight in the U.S.  It’s a crossover of sorts with the program Breaking Bad, where some of the chemistry used in that show will be tested for veracity.  It’s not clear if this is the start of a new run of MythBusters episodes in the United States, but it has lead to a rash of people reciting Shelley’s Ozymandias.

In new programs this week, there are additional appearances in connection with the Jobs movie.  Ashton Kutcher will be on with Jimmy Kimmel this Thursday, and Josh Gad, who plays Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, sits down with Conan on Wednesday.

And that’s it.  Which allows for a mention of the big to-do coming out of Discovery’s Shark Week last week.  On Sunday night the channel aired a program on the megalodon, a prehistoric ancestor of today’s sharks.  The program was, well, not as non-fictional as the rest of the week’s programming.  It suggested that the creatures were still plying the seas near South Africa, and Discovery has characterized the program as ‘dramatized.’  Compounding the problem was the relative subtlety of the disclaimers, which simply stated that the agencies and institutions mentioned in the film were not affiliated with the program and did not approve its content.

While such dubious treading of the line between factual and fictional is understandable on some channels, it’s not expected of Discovery, and people let the channel know.  For whatever reason, Discovery has dug in its heels.  You can peruse this review of the matter by the Columbia Journalism Review for more details.  There’s also the shark coverage from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A real question for the understandable outrage over this special, is whether it will be remembered come next August, when Discovery returns to the ocean.

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