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ISSUE 120 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/17/2006

Discovery Channel offers viewing alternative

By Jean Mullins
Executive Editor

Friday, November 17, 2006

As a busy college student who rarely has time to watch TV, I find that I am alienated by the serialized nature of most TV shows on the major networks. If I miss one week, I miss plot unfoldings, major deaths, small revelations and new storylines. When I tried to keep up with shows after missing episodes, my conversations with friends usually went as follows: “What happened on 'The O.C.' last week? What?!? I am so confused!” There is just something missing from secondhand accounts.

My alienation from major network television has driven me into the loving arms of the Discovery Channel. Sometimes I want to be coddled, educated, scared and amazed. Oh, Discovery Channel, you are matronly television. No more will I rot my brain with the hot bodies and drama on shows like “Lost.”

Reader, I know what you are thinking: St. Olaf doesn't provide cable TV in the residence halls, so how am I supposed to watch the Discovery Channel? To you, I would say that if a true basketball fan can find a cable TV when their favorite team is playing, you can find a TV if you miraculously have half an hour to spare.

There are a plethora of shows on the Discovery Channel: crime dramas like “F.B.I. Files” and “48 Hours: Hard Evidence” (real crime dramas, no fake “C.S.I.” business here!); the very popular “American Chopper” and “American Hot Rod,” featuring tattooed and intimidating-looking men; documentaries about climbing Mt. Everest, such as “Everest: Beyond the Limit”; shows on submarines, engineering, mega-mansions and so much more. I think I know where I will be when “Science of Christmas” airs Nov. 22 at 1 p.m.

I have several favorite shows that bring me back to the Discovery Channel again and again.

“Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe” was possibly the best television I watched all summer. Rowe does a new “dirty” job every episode and explains all about it with his own comments (often semi-inappropriate but always funny). I watched Rowe shuck oysters, farm mussels, make pig slop from the leftovers of Las Vegas buffets, clean bird cages for magicians, put on a new roof and shear alpacas. And I was entertained every time! It helps that Rowe is the hottest 40-something I have ever seen (I have small crush on him). You can watch Rowe in all his glory as a sewer inspector Saturday at 11 a.m.

And I am not the only one who thinks Rowe is amazing: The Discovery Channel honored him by letting him host this year's “Shark Week,” which leads me to my next favorite.

“Shark Week” is not an actual show, but makes for an excellent week of television. Sharks have such mystery surrounding them: Are they scary ocean predators? How ancient are they? What about whale sharks? Are they whales or sharks? All of these questions are answered in this amazing week of television.

Sadly, “Shark Week” is over for this year, but you can catch Mike Rowe's contribution to the lineup, “Dirty Jobs that Bite… Harder” Nov. 21 at 9 p.m. or Nov. 25 at 11 a.m.

The final show that I love is “Mythbusters.” Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, (two men who rock the goatee) and their staff test myths such as “you cannot use cell phones near gas tanks because they will light fires.” They scientifically test each myth to determine its validity. I have watched them shoot large compressed air canisters through cement walls, test gun powder engines, spin themselves sick in desk chairs and so much more. Watch them build an earthquake machine Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. or shatter a subwoofer at 8 p.m.

Ah, the Discovery Channel. I don't watch TV often, but when I do, this is my channel of choice.

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