National Geographic Channel

Einstein: A life of math and music, rebellion and romance and pure genius


At times -- but not too often -- cable TV lives up to its potential. It tries something large and ambitious. The current example is "Genius," a scripted mini-series Tuesdays (rerunning Saturdays) on the National Geographic Channel, Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

There are lives that
seem too large even for Hollywood.

Our minds at work -- creating fire and (a while later) telepathy


Talking to Jason Silva is a whirlwind experience. Ideas and words swirl through his busy brain and out his mouth. He's a technology guy who makes it all sound exciting ... even to a TV reporter who still uses a stupid phone. And now his new "Origins" series is looking way back. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Jason Silva has
spent years talking about the future. “I'm a big technology
optimist,” he said.

He explored Sherwood Forest ... and now explores the world (sort of)


When I first started writing about the iffy concept of cable-TV, some of the first stories were about "Explorer."

The show began in 1981, at a time when made-for-cable shows were rare and cheap; at first, it simply bought and packaged world documentaries. It went from TBS to Nickelodeon (a couple of the earliest channels, created in 1976 and '77) to MSNBC and then found its natural home, on the National Geographic Channel.

At 18, Malala is changing the world


Trust me on this one: "He Named Me Malala" is a compelling documentary. It airs twice -- commercial-free, no less -- Monday on the National Georaphic Channel; here's the stoy I sent to papers:

(TV story about the
compellng “Malala,” which airs twice Monday, commercial-free.)

By Mike Hughes

Sure, pilgrims were thankful ... just to have (barely) survived


It all seems bountiful now -- turkey and football and pie and parades and such. But that first Thanksgiving, in the fall of 1621, marked survival against fierce odds. A well-crafted mini-series starts Sunday, focusing on that. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

When the Pilgrims
had that first feast, almost 400 years ago, there was a good reason
to give thanks.

"Explorer" is back and warlords are a target


There really was a time when basic-cable was kind of empty. It had reruns and wrestling and music videos, but few original shows that amounted to much. "Explorer" entered that turf in 1985, becoming one of the best of a small field; now it returns as a monthly series. It's opener (Sunday, Aug. 30) is dark and grim, but also admirably ambitious. Here's the story I sent to papers:

 

Maybe we should all be sleeping


First, a few personal confessions: 1) I used to average five hours of sleep on weeknights, thinking this was a good thing; 2) I was once awakened by my air bag, after striking six cars; we were all very lucky this happened at a slow speed, while they were at a stoplight; 3) Ever since, for 13 years, I've used a sleep-apnea machine nightly.

A chatty soul savors life alone in the North


As winter nears, we might start to feel sorry for ourselves ... unless we've met Sue Aikens, who spends each winter alone, in weather that sometimes hits 50-below. And yes, she does it on purpose. She's one of the intriguing "Life Below Zero" people; here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

At last: In depth coverage of shoelaces


Let me digress for a moment: For Jewel, there were some culture shocks when she went from being a hard-working Alaskan to being an art-school student. In one class project, she found that she was the only person who knew how to shovel.

Fortunately, such knowledge gaps will now by filled by cable TV. On July 21, we'll learn how to dig a hole and how to flip a coin. Before that, on July 14, we'll learn how to make ice cubes and tie our shoes. That's in a quirky show called "Going Deep"; here's the story I sent to papers:

While skiiers and skaters chase gold, these guys chase tuna


We really have to admire the gumption of any channel that would launch a season of its best show head-on against the Olympics. Last Sunday, AMC did that with "Walking Dead"; this Sunday, National Geographic's "Wicked Tuna" collides with the Olympics and the NBA and all those zombies. Here's the story I sent to papers:


By MIKE HUGHES