While many shows will take time off later this month for the Memorial Day holiday, some programs got an early start this week, or took a break just because they felt like it. Of those repeats, on Friday the 18th you could have seen Evan Rachel Wood’s recent appearance on The Late Late Show. The actress currently plays a robot on the HBO series Westworld.
Stephen Colbert had a couple of non-guest science and technology segments this past week. On the May 17 show there was another edition of the recurring tech segment Cyborgasm. This edition focused on recent stories involving artificial intelligence assistants and robots. On the 18th Stephen spent time on recently released video of Bill Gates relating his meetings with Donald Trump.The relevant portion, which I include here due to discussions on vaccines, starts around the 2 minute 20 second mark.
Bil Nye continues to promote the latest series of Bill Nye Saves the World, now available on Netflix. He was on the May 17th edition of Last Call with Carson Daly.
This past week the featured bookings revolved around a scientist who also plays one on TV. Mayim Bialik. The Big Bang Theory actress plays a neuroscientist on the show and has a Ph.D. in the discipline as well. She also recently released her second book on human growth and development, Boying Up. Between that and the end of the latest season of The Big Bang Theory and Bialik was everywhere late last week. On May 10th she was on Live with Kelly and Ryan as well as The Talk. Friday, May 11th she visited with Stephen Colbert.
Stephen Colbert also started last week with science and technology guests. Bialik’s Big Bang co-star Jim Parsons was on the May 7th program along with Redditt co-founder Alex Ohanian.
Westworld continues to promote its new season. Two of the actors portraying robots continue to promote the show. Jeffrey Wright was on the May 7th edition of Late Night and Thandie Newton appeared on the May 9th edition of The Late Late Show.
Last, but probably not least, Bill Nye visited the Desus and Mero show over on Viceland (While I think all late night programs are NSFW in parts, this program covers very adult topics). He was the featured guest on the May 7th program. The latest season of Bill Nye Saves the World is now available on Netflix.
One thing that can be counted on for late night science and technology content remains cast members from The Big Bang Theory. Kunal Nayyar stepped up for the show last week, appearing on Conan May 1st.
Last Monday was a double dose of people who play doctors that switched careers. Lucy Liu stopped by Live With Kelly and Ryan on April 30. She plays Dr. Joan Watson, now more detective than physician, on Elementary. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Doctor Strange in the Marvel films, was on The Late Late Show. Strange is now best known as a sorceror rather than a neurosurgeon.
I’ll close with recent segments of note from The Daily Show. In the April 18th episode the show ran a segment on the trend of ‘raw water’ – untreated water that some claim to have health benefits simply not possible. On April 19th the show ran another installment of “Today’s Future Now.” This one focused on odd environmental technologies – just in time for Earth Day.
The latest Marvel superhero movie – Avengers: Infinity War – blanketed the late night talk shows this past week. Given the lack of other guests to mention, I’ll note that Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr. both play scientists in this film who are also superheroes. Benedict Cumberbatch is also in the film and plays a neurosurgeon who is also a sorcerer. But with the dozens of superheroes in the film, I wouldn’t expect to see a lot of the practice(s) of science, technology or medicine in the movie.
There were also androids in the mix, or at least actors playing them on Westworld. Evan Rachel Wood was on the April 23 edition of The Late Late Show, and Jeffrey Wright was on that night’s edition of The Late Show.
Finally, a mention of Zach Braff, who plays the lead in a sitcom about a podcaster. He visited Conan on April 24.
Another HBO program saves the week for this series. Last week a few of the ‘hosts’ – androids on the show Westworld, promoted the new season of the show. Thandie Newton visited The Daily Show on April 19 while Evan Rachel Wood was on The Tonight Show that evening. James Marsden was on with Stephen Colbert April 20.
In other appearances, Alan Cumming, who plays a behavioral science professor on Instinct, visited The Late Show April 18.
Well, at least there was something technology related for the monologues last week. As you might expect, the Congressional testimony of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the topic of late night shows last week. While the reason behind the testimony – the shady data practices of Cambridge Analytica through Facebook – was worth exploring, the all-too-easy topic of Zuckerberg’s lack of emotional intelligence shown through in the jokes.
HBO is still promoting the latest season of Silicon Valley, and co-star Zack Woods appeared on Conan on April 10.
The Comedy Central programs delivered more than Mr. Zuckerberg last week, specifically on April 12. The Daily Show guest was Karlie Kloss. She’s best known as a supermodel, but has also been a correspondent on Bill Nye Saves the World and founded Kode with Klossy, an organization designed to encourage young girls to explore computer coding. That same night The Opposition hosted Bari Williams. Ms. Williams is an attorney and executive who advociates to Silicon Valley companies on diversity efforts.
This past week all the CBS and Comedy Central programs were in repeats, limiting the possibilities for science and technology content. The Tuesday (April 3) repeat on The Late Late Show included an appearance by Johnny Galecki, who plays one of the scientists on The Big Bang Theory.
Regrettably, what new programs were on last week had no solid offerings to report. While I have not crunched the numbers, I suspect that 2018 is shaping to be the worst year in talk show science and technology content in the time I’ve been tracking this kind of thing. Sure, there are now new, limited run science-centric programs like StarTalk, but the broadcast networks and nationally syndicated programs appear to be slipping.