Richard Hammond’s Journey to…hell

The new Richard Hammond show “Richard Hammond’s Journey To…” has two USPs (Unique Selling Points).

1. CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) – special effects to pre-digital consumers
2. Richard Hammod – a carefully choreographed ‘tongue in cheek, affable’ presenter with bad hair

So to justify using a presenter from Top Gear, whose cheeky, nice boy persona would be much better suited to presenting teletubbies, they decided to use a machine alegory to describe the Earth and its geology. Consequently the script constantly refers to geological processes and the effects of physics as ‘amazing engineering’.

Engineering? The debate about whether TV influences the viewer is an old one, but it is this kind of programming that worries me more than overtly sexual or violent content. Both sexual activity and violence and the situations in which they are appropriate are constantly reinforced with social cues in every active and passive interaction we have. So the influence of the media is usually mitigated by the environment we live in.

How many parents are going to point out that the physical properties of the universe make this possible, not engineering. The boy with the tin foil hat in me keeps shouting “Creationist Agenda”. What better way to spread the feeling that something must have created the world rather than it having emerged from the rules that govern the universe. That doesn’t actually rule out a creator but I’d rather discover one through provable steps than relying on a feeling. This seems like a great advert for the intelligent design crowd.

Personally I retained a lot of ‘factual’ knowledge from BBC documentaries in my childhood, later I discovered that the knowledge base moves on and schools, universities and general media are usually lagging a long way behind published papers.

Anyway it is of course pretty to watch although much of the CGI from episode 2 was lifted straight from ‘Drain the ocean’ (A National Geographic production originally shown on channel 4 in the UK)

Slightly shallow, spectacle oriented, re-iteration of the gross geology of Earth and solar physics. Would be great for kids except for its reliance on the machine & engineering alegories

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