Summer TV Teases The Science

There are three programs on American television emerging this summer that at least dress themselves in science and technology trappings.

Black Box is already on the ABC network (not the Australian one).  It focuses on a neuroscientist who works at a top-flight private medical facility.  Because House, M.D. is so two years ago (though the programs share producers), it’s not enough to have the doctor just treating weird cases (the episode I saw portions of this evening involved training a patient to hear colors).  The main character is (secretly) bipolar and has plenty of additional personal drama.  Reaction to the show has been both positive and negative, including what the National Alliance on Mental Illness observed. The show’s creator has a family history of bipolar disorder, but doesn’t see the show as a show about bipolar.  Some have observed that the show, (currently 7 episodes into a 13 episode season) has joined a long line of portrayals that link mental illness to professional excellence.  It seems a bit breathless for my taste, but your mileage may vary.

The highest-profile science-y show this summer is certainly Extant, as it stars Halle Berry.  It premieres on the CBS network July 9th.  Berry plays an astronaut recently returned from a months-long solo mission in space.  Her efforts to reconnect with her family are complicated by what happened to her off-planet.  Previews have been vague, so the science content of the program may not be terribly high.  Perhaps more The Astronaut’s Wife than Gravity.  But it’s too early to know.

At the end of July WGNAmerica will premiere Manhattan, a program set in 1940s Los Alamos as the Manhattan Project is developing the atomic bomb.  If the promotional clip is a clear indication about the program, it will focus on the consequences top secret weapons research can have on the people involved and their families.

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