Discovery Channel’s Curiosity: Episode 2, “Alien Invasion: Are We Ready?”
Early in 2010, I was called in as one of five initial consultants on an “alien invasion” TV show for the Discovery Channel, which they assured us would be “airing in September, January the latest.” But I worked in TV, so I knew better.
At the time, they did some screen tests of us, and then sent us on our way. I was ultimately tapped to work as on-air talent, and ultimately was given the “last word” in the show (eke-ing out no less a person than Michio Kaku for that coveted slot!). I continued to work with them on plot and plausibility issues as they hunted about for something that would both make for a credible show, but also appeal—and be easily understood—by a wide audience. For anyone who’s worked in SF media, those two objectives are often—even usually—diametrically opposed.
It was no different in this case. Close to my initial airdate prediction of April 2011, “Alien Invasion: Are We Ready” first aired in the Uk in May 2011 as a two-hour documentary with “docudrama” elements. The one-hour version edited for the States, and hosted by Michelle Rodriguez (of Hollywood fame), showed the stresses of the tug of war between hard SF plausibility and popular sensationalization even more clearly. Overall, I thought they achieved everything they could in terms of keeping an eye on real science while still achieving the kind of appeal that would satisfy the gatekeepers at Discovery and non-specialist viewers of a wide audience. It’s a fun show, and reflects more genuine, hard sf considerations than most.
More information on this program: Are We Ready?