Sunday, November 30, 2014

Previewing Sleepless in America

A couple weeks ago, National Geographic Channel highlighted a task we all do and many of us take for granted when their aired their mini-series for eat. When it comes to eating, it seems like most of us do too much or too little of it. Tonight, the channel takes another deep dive in another task many of us think as mundane but everyone does it. But unlike eating, there are not two extremes, it seems like Americans only getting not enough sleep each night.

Sleepless in America takes a look at why forty percent of adults (and seventy percent of teenagers) are considered sleep deprived, some times with fatal consequences. It is theorized that not enough sleep led to the Exxon Valdez tanker cash, the Three Mile Island Meltdown, and most recently the Walmart driver who rammed Tracy Morgan's limo leaving one passenger dead and the comic in the hospital in a month and who is still undergoing treatment for traumatic brain injury.

Morgan is not the only one, the two hour special starts out with the story of a family torn apart by a doctor coming home from a lengthy rotation and veered across four lanes hitting a family of six head on with half not surviving and the other half spending months and years worth of rehabilitation. Drowsiness is not the only result of not getting enough sleep and it is also believe to cause mental health problems, as well as diabetes, heart disease, and an increase risk of cancer and Alzheimer's.

If you are in the forty percent, or have a school aged kid, Sleepless in America may be the most important special you watch on television this year. Over the course of two hours, it will give you warning signs that you are not getting enough sleep and more importantly how to get a good night's sleep if you are one of the millions of Americans dealing with insomnia.

Sleepless in America premieres tonight at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Previewing Eat: The Story of Food

Food: some think about it too much while others it is nothing more than fuel, something to power us through the day. But no matter who you are, you eat it and need it to survive. For me, I am more on the latter side of the equation and really have no interest in all the television shows on the subject. I never understood what the enjoyment of a cooking show is if you cannot eat the finished product at the end of the episode and watching other people "judge" the food even more cruel.

While watching other people cook food may not pique my interested, I am a bit fascinated by the science and history behind food. The National Geographic Channel is looking into those this weekend with their six part seriesEat: The Story of Food starting tonight at 9:00. The series conducted interviews with nearly seventy chefs, authors, food experts, and food scientists including Padma Lakshmi, Rachael Ray, and Anna Boiardi (her family's famous product is spelled more phonetically).

The first episode deals with the "Food Revolutionaries" from Julia Child to Christopher Columbus, yes the guy credited with discovering America. What is sometime forgotten is the very reason he sailed the ocean blue was to find an easier way to transport spices from India but ended up discovering a new spice in the new world: the chili pepper. Food historians also credit food with the creation of capitalism, New Amsterdam becoming New York, and World War II inadvertently launching Chef Boyardee into grocery shelves everywhere.

The second episode will hit close to every grillers heart (and will want to be avoided by vegetarians), "Carnivores." The hour looks into why we eat the meats we do and why we avoid some others most Americans would find disgusting unless maybe they were avid watchers of Fear Factor. The hour also delves into some "meats" me may be better off not knowing about like the hot dog and chick nugget.

Other episodes include "Sugar Rushes" looking at the history of one of our dietary obsession dating back 10,000 when the sugarcane was first farmed. "Sea Changes" looks at the food we fish out of the oceans. "Guilty Pleasures" at processed food and why we just cannot eat one Pringle at a time. The series closes out with "Staffs of Life" looking at the rise of grains that helped up ditch the hunter / gatherer era to a more stationary age.

Eat: The Story of Food airs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9:00 on the National Geographic Channel. If that is not enough food on television for you, the National Geographic Channel is premiering two new series this Monday, Eric Greenspan Is Hungry at 10:00 followed by Chug at 10:30.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Previewing Live Free or Die

For the last fourteen years I have watched Survivor an thought to myself, sure, I could live on a deserted tropical beach for about a month living off fruit and rice for the chance of maybe getting a million dollars. Worst case scenario I get a bunch of nasty bug bites (well, that or fall face first into a fire). Then last year saw the premiere of Naked and Afraid and just the title alone made me think to myself, nope. Nope, nope, nope... no way. Since then a cottage industry of survivalist shows have popped up on the dial including Fat Guys in the Woods (another self explanatory title) and the O.G. survivalist Bear Grylls taking celebrities out into the wild.

One thing all these survivalist shows have in common is that at the end of every episode everyone goes back to their homes with central heating that are withing driving distance to grocery stores with packaged meats and beverages. When the cameras turn off on the new show Live Free or Die, the cameramen may go home to their warm homes, but the castmember stay out in the wilderness where they have lived for years without the trappings of modern technology. Well except for one who brought out his coffee machine out to the cabin he built by hand in the woods.

Live Free or Die, premiering tonight, follows five Americans (which includes one married couple) as they escape to the mountains and swamps of this county to live without electricity or running water. These are former schoolteachers and financial advisers who have left the buzz of the big city for a simple life which is not that simple without electricity and an easy place you can drive to to get food.. And the show has caught some of the survivalist in some hash conditions like the drought in California which is making wildlife scarce (no wildlife, no food) and single digit temperatures in the mountains of North Carolina.

Just because these people have left modern society does not mean they still do not have ties to that world, in episode two we meet one of the survivalists five year old daughter who spends every other week with her father. And just because they are living in the middle of nowhere, that does not mean they are immune to disaster as one of them learn very well at the end of the second episode that may very well threaten their survivalist lifestyle forever.

Live Free or Die airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Previewing American War Generals

As we gear up for yet another war in the Middle East (not that you will hear anyone in the Obama administration actually use the word "war") the National Geographic Channel is airing a very timely new special tonight entitled American War Generals. the two hours will feature new interviews from ten living generals who served during war time with names we have all become familiar with like Colin Powell, Stanley McChrystal, David Petraues, and Wesley Clark.

Those all of those generals severed during one of the wars in Iraq, the specials starts back in Vietnam where all but three of the ten generals got their start in the United States armed forces even if just part of basic training and never set foot in the foreign country. But many of those that did see time in the jungles saw eerie parallels to how the second Iraq war was ran.

Throughout the two hours, all the generals, especially the retired ones are very candid about their time on the ground and their time leading troops into battle; seemingly no topic off the table. General Petraeus talks about the "General Betray-Us" and while General McChrystal delves into the Rolling Stone article which led him to the Oval Office where President Obama said he would except the general's resignation.

They are all also very forthcoming on the failures in Iraq (Donald Rumsfeld looks really bad after multiple stories by the generals). One even goes as far to suggest that it was very possible that we could have last that war. Most of it had to do with the leadership trying to fight the way we should against an army, not an insurgency. Hopefully as we reenter the country, we finally learn from our mistakes.

American War Generals premieres tonight at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Previewing 9/10: The Final Hours

Everyone remembers where they were on September 11, 2001, we have all told the story and herd others over the past twelve anniversaries from the first responders to people who were supposed to be in the World Trade Center that day before fate intervened and have even heard President George W. Bush tell his tale of that fateful day. But here is a question that is a little harder: where were you on September 10, the day before our way of life changed? For me and I am guessing many others it was just like September 9, and 8 and many other days that preceded it.

One of the commenters for National Geographic Channel's 9/10: The Finals Hours describes the twenty months after the Y2K scare a "blissful ignorance." Really we lived in a world of blissful ignorance since the fall of communism with the occasional irrational panic over silly things like Y2K. The special features interviews with many New Yorkers talking about the calm before the storm and even finds some people in Portland, Maine who came into contact with suspected ringleader Mohammad Atta on his last day on Earth (his last meal: a vegetarian pizza).

Some of the people interviewed includes a bartender who worked on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center,a New York City newscaster (the big new on 9/10: all the rain that day) Mayoral candidate Mark Green (primaries were supposed to be held the next day), artists who worked on the 91st and 92nd floors, an NYU student who bought her first video camera that days and ended up using very frequently over the next 24 hours, and many others. As many of the interviews focus on the mundane and foreshadows the event to come it is interesting that the biggest event in New York City that night, Michael Jackson's all star tribute at Madison Square Garden is barely mentioned.

As the thirteenth anniversary approaches it is interesting to look back at the time before 9/11 and how hard it is to remember as it has turned into a dark and fading memory. Of course the special does not stay entirely on that Monday in September as all those New Yorkers eventually tell they stories on where they were when the towers fell, including a couple who just missed being in the buildings when the planes hit. But the first half of the special is just as powerful as we lived those last couple hours of blissful ignorance.

9/10: The Final Hours premieres tonight at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Previewing Dallas: The Second Half of Season Three

It is rare when I am truly shocked by a television show these days, but there was my jaw on the floor when Pamela surprised JR Jr. and Emma in their hotel room only to ask the party, not interrupt it. Things made a little more sense when Pamela started convulsing and it became clear she was overdosing and possibly wanted to implicate the adulterers. Hers was not the only life in the balance when Dallas went on hiatus back in the spring when a more tried and true soap opera cliffhanger of a fire left many under the roof in peril (as well as those that went in to save them) as well as leaving us with the question who started the fire.

Dallas returns tonight to finish off the last seven episodes of season three and though I cannot say who started the fire (other than the fact I can declare with complete certainty that it was not Billy Joel) I can say that by the end of the hour you will know who started the fire. There is even a flashback to confirm what exactly happened that started the blaze. And though I cannot say who it is, I can also say one person who was alive at the start of the last episode will no longer be breathing at the end of tonight's episode (okay, I can also confirm that this is not Billy Joel either).

Though the fire and Pamella's overdose were the bi cliffhanger from the last episode, there were a couple of little plots from the last episode that will shake up Southfork. There was the kiss between Ryland and Ann (which Judith saw, fact she will no doubt use to her advantage). Emma was banned from Southfork (granted no one will be living there was a while). There is the ranch hand's wife Christopher is hooking up with and is a prime suspect to be the arsonist. Then again Drew Ramos is still n the loose somewhere. Though most of tonight's episode takes place at the hospital, we do learn more about just why Nicolas is so ken to take over Ewing Global, and it is not just about helping Elena.

Dallas airs Mondays at 9:00 on TNT.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Previewing Wicked Tuna: North vs. South

When I first reviewed Wicked Tuna the majority of the post focused on my dislike of the city of Boston and how their accent boils my skin. The only thing that rivals my hatred of Boston is the enjoyment I get when I can watch them lose (unfortunately member of the city are prone to cheating leading numerous tainted championships in the past decade or so). Since the majority of the city's population are doushebags (or as they are commonly refereed to:massholes) I was not at all surprised when Wicked Tuna announced a spin-off where the massholes from the original series would sail south after the season on Boston was over to invade North Carolina to loot the tuna from local fishermen.

Wicked Tuna: North vs. South opens up with us getting to know the local fishermen , three boats that features one with a crazy first mate, another with a pair of brothers, and a third with a religious captain. But not long after the introduction they spot two rouge ships off in the distance a pair of boats that sailed down from Gloucester, Mass: the Hot Tuna lead by TJ Ott and Captain Dave Marciano of the Hard Merchandise (Tyler McLaughlin will complete the northern aggression when the Pin Wheel finally arrives in the second episode of the season). Making the invasion even worse have two more boats to fight fish for, North Carolina has a twenty-three ton yearly quota, which comes out to about two hundred bluefins.

Of course the massholes are on foreign turf and will have to learn a different way to reel in their catch. Back home they would sit in one spot waiting for a bite, but in southern waters the best way to catch a fish is greensticking, where you use an artificial squid on a thirty-foot pole in hopes to entice the bluefins to the surface. Then again the Boston guys will probably fin a way to cheat before the quota is filled.Here is hoping that when the twenty-third ton is reeled in, the south finally rises again, at least in the waters of North Carolina.

Wicked Tuna: North vs. South airs Sundays at 10:00 on the National Geographic Channel.