Last week started off strong, with Sonequa Martin-Green appearing on the January 14 edition of The Late Show. She plays the lead (and a scientist) on Star Trek: Discovery, which airs on the CBS All Access streaming service in the U.S. and on Netflix elsewhere in the world. The second season of the show premiered on January 17th (episodes are released weekly).
That same night Ryan Eggold was on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Eggold plays a doctor and hospital administrator on the program New Amsterdam.
While The Daily Show didn’t have any science or technology guests, both science and technology were featured elsewhere in the program. The show covered the recent Chinese (uncrewed) moon landing (starting around the 3:10 mark) on the 14th. On the 15th correspondent Ronny Chieng filed a report about the latest Consumer Electronics Show.
The new MythBusters Jr. program continues on Wednesdays on the Science Channel in the U.S. (with repeats on the Discovery Channel Saturdays around noon). No word about whether the show will be renewed, but it seems to be well received. My own opinion is that the kids bring a youthful energy to the program and do so in numbers that might make this program stick around longer than the 2017-18 reboot with hosts Brian Louden and Jon Lung.
While it’s too early to call a trend for 2019, the first full week of the year was encouraging for science and technology related guest bookings. And, as per usual, The Daily Show can be counted for the occasional desk piece that skewers technological developments, or our reaction to them.
Rami Malek was a guest on the January 8 edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Malek is still promoting a film about the rock band Queen, but he stars as a hacker in the television series Mr. Robot.
Bradley Whitford was on The Late Show on January 10. He was promoting his new project, a drama called Valley of the Boom. He plays James Barksdale, head of Netscape Corporation, which was a major player in the technology sector in the 1990s. The film focuses on Silicon Valley during that decade.
The Daily Show ran a few segments in early December touching on technology issues that are worth checking out. Ronny Chieng, who often covers science and technology on the show, discussed Bill Gates’ efforts to update the toilet on the December 5th program (NSFW due to language). On December 6th correspondent Jaboukie Young-White discussed the increase of cashless commerce with host Trevor Noah (through his voice interpreter correspondent Desi Lydic). Chieng returned on the December 11th program to express his skepticism over the notion that video game addiction can be a diagnosable condition.
New episodes of MythBusters Jr. continue on the Science Channel (and rerun on the U.S. version of the Discovery network).
The year goes out like a whimper where science and technology guests are concerned. That’s true most years, as programs are often in repeats, and the MythBusters megamarathon is typically the only thing going in this space. But 2018 has felt particularly soft in this regard, and the dearth of bookings at the end amplifies that feeling for me.
The listings last week were so meager I feel I have to mention an animal expert, which I am loath to do since their segments often have little to no meaningful animal content. Coyote Peterson was on the January 2 repeat of Live with Kelly and Ryan. Peterson is best known for his YouTube channel, where he mostly suffers the bites and stings of various insects and small creatures.
The biggest thing of the past week was not a late night booking, but the prime-time U.S. premiere on the Science Channel of MythBusters Jr. While the return of Adam Savage is a major selling point (and was heavily used in the promotion of the show), the program really does focus on the efforts of six young MythBusters who range from 12-15 (at least at the time this was taped in the summer of 2018). Returning along with Savage are many of the San Francisco area locations used in the first 14 years of MythBusters (the most recent season of the series had decamped to the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles). Much like their adult counterparts from MythBusters:The Search, each young MythBuster brings their own set of skills to the program. If the pattern of the first episode holds true, each show will feature two myths, with Savage guiding/coaching a team of 3 young MythBusters as they do their work.
The series has a 10 episode order, though it’s worth noting that the Science Channel has still not run all of the episodes it ordered with hosts Jon Lung and Brian Louden (nor did their episodes air during the megamarathon). Should the ratings and reception meet Science Channel expectation, a second season may be greenlit to shoot this coming summer.
As expected with the Christmas holiday, late night programs were in repeats, if not pre-empted, this past week. Of the repeats, one of note is Jeffrey Wright on the December 28 edition of The Real. Wright was promoting a documentary he produced, but he also plays a robot on Westworld.
The MythBusters megamarathon continues on Science Channel. While not *every* episode will be aired (the 2017-2018 episodes with hosts Jon Lung and Brian Louden will not air, but are available through the Science Channel website with a cable log-in), you will be primed and ready for the new series MythBusters Jr. when it premieres January 2nd. First generation MythBusters host Adam Savage is mentoring a crop of teen and pre-teen MythBusters in this series.
Last week was the last week most shows aired all new episodes in 2018. Regrettably, none opted to book science and/or technology related guests.
As I write this, the Science Channel is running its annual megamarathon of MythBusters episodes. New for this year is a slight deviation from airing the episodes in order. Each night the megamarathon will run several episodes along a common theme (holidays, duct tape, myths from movies and television, etc.).
The megamarathon will run until January 2nd, when MythBusters Jr. premieres. Adam Savage returns to guide a group of young people (teen and pre-teen) as they bust myths and such.
Where science and technology on late night are concerned, 2018 is looking to go out with a whimper, and certainly not a bang.
For this past week I can find little to note in this post. Ken Jeong, a former physician and current comic actor, makes two appearances. He was on the December 11 editions of The View and Late Night With Seth Meyers.
I had assumed that with a new edition of COSMOS coming early next year that host Neil deGrasse Tyson’s other television show, StarTalk, was on a break. The program is on a break, but it is likely due to an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Tyson. I say that because prior to the investigation being announced, StarTalk did air 3 episodes of its 5th season. They are available to view online in the U.S. if you are part of a participating cable company. Featured guests to date have been:
- Chef Anthony Bourdain
- Simon Helberg and Bill Prady from The Big Bang Theory
- Joe Rogan, a mixed martial arts analyst and commentator
As the investigation is still ongoing as I write this, I don’t know when (or if) StarTalk will return. The same is true of the next series of COSMOS.
The past week was, regrettably, yet another loser for science and technology content on the late night programs. The one note of merit is Jeff Goldblum’s appearance on The Late Late Show on December 3. While most of his time on the program was focused on music (either his own or a parody song focused on him), Goldblum is playing a medical doctor in an upcoming project called The Mountain.
Given the dearth of content, it’s worth bringing up that once again the Science Channel will run a mega-marathon of MythBusters episodes in the U.S., starting on December 22. It will run until early 2019, and serve as a lead-in/promotion for the new program MythBusters Jr. Hosted by Adam Savage, the show will focus on a group of six young makers – all under 16 at the time of taping – as they seek to test conventional wisdom, sayings and myths. The 10-episode series will begin on January 2nd in the U.S.
(presumably that puts a final note on the version of MythBusters that ran late last year with Brian Louden and Jon Lung). Not all of the episodes they taped were aired during that run, so I would tune in during the later days of the marathon to see if viewers have a chance to watch them.