Televisual Documentaries
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People who stand at my window constantly staring at me will know of my passion of watching documentary channels, so I thought I'd start this thread to like talk about them and stuff.

Last night I watched The Secret History of Airports (still on iPlayer now) and it's a fascinating look at something quite mundane by today's standards. One of the best bits was discussing the pictoral signs around the place, with an hilarious clip of an man back in the 50's being asked why all the signs were only in English with no pictures. "Well, for instance the lady in a dress for the women's lavatories, an arab gentleman may mistake what the room was for!" 8) Harems for Heathrow.

Other than that, Deadliest Catch of course. But no fucker ever responds when I use the thread for that.
I dont know if it's still on iplayer, but there was a documentary about the plane that crashed in the andes in the 70s.
Was really good.
I do enjoy the cannibalism docs. There was a good one on National Geographic not long ago detailing the escape of 6 prisoners on Tasmania back in the 1700s. Gruesome.
Documentaries can be a bit poor these days.

I really like this though, it's mesmerising. I have an mpeg copy if anyone wants it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heart_of_the_Angel
The 'Empire of Cricket' series which is on at the moment has been splendid.
I cannot tolerate American documentaries, fifteen minutes of good stuff wrapped up with fifteen minutes of previews of the good stuff to come after the break and half an hour of recaps of the good stuff they just showed you. See also: Mythbusters.
Most 'merican NatGeo docs are like that, aye. One about the methods of execution in ancient cultures promised to be bostin, but was ruined by repeating the same 5 facts for half an hour with shoddy CGI repeated alongside. Deadliest Catch aint''t' like that though.

I used to like Mythbusters when it was less obviously scripted, before Grant Imammrmamrmrhahrhhar was in it. I used to watch a lot of American Chopper and Amercian Hotrod too, but they've sort of waned in my affections.
Thing is, I am attracted to the production values of the highdef stuff on NatGeo and History Channel, but they are the worst for the repeating themselves thing.
First 48 is a very good 'merican docu, for instance. Following homocide investigation teams around during the first 48 hours of the crime investigation. Really good.
I believe I ranted about documentaries a few weeks ago somewhere around here.
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
I cannot tolerate American documentaries, fifteen minutes of good stuff wrapped up with fifteen minutes of previews of the good stuff to come after the break and half an hour of recaps of the good stuff they just showed you. See also: Mythbusters.


Fuck yes.

Starting to effect British documentaries too. Especially any that BBC 3 makes.
I have a guilty secret of liking to watch Cops and other real life police follow-em-around-em-ups.

There, I said it.
Me, in another thread:
All American documentaries wrote:
Hey, coming up next, we show you THIS THING. And now... here is THIS THING. Look at THIS THING. Isn't THIS THING great/bad? Well, we just showed you THIS THING. But next we'll show you THAT THING. And now here is THAT THING. Remember when we showed you THIS THING? Wasn't THIS THING great/bad? Well, THAT THING is better/worse! To recap, we showed you THAT THING, but not before showing you THIS THING, after which you saw THAT THING. Coming up next, ANOTHER THING...
kalmar wrote:
I have a guilty secret of liking to watch Cops and other real life police follow-em-around-em-ups.

There, I said it.


First 48 would be right up your street. Less stupid testosterone "fuck yeah!" type behaviour, thankfully. Plus it actually shows that some people get away with it.
I really, really liked the first series of Chop Shop on Discovery, where each episode showed Bernie, Leepu and co. building another of their dodgy motors, but the second series, where each build spanned multiple episodes, was pap. Admittedly this was largely because I rarely watch any TV and can't be dealing with remembering to tuning in at a certain time each week... unless that TV series is Lost obviously.
One of my favourite documentaries I have ever seen was "Alchemists of Sound". It told the story of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop & how they made all kinds of strange music & noises. It was also responsible for filling my head with ideas & me carrying a dictaphone around for ages in case I heard a good noise :DD

If anyone wants a copy gies a shout & I'll upload it somewhere.
There was a brilliant series on the Hist'ry Channel or somesuch which looked at classic air battles, and recreated them in CGI. Was awesome for a plane nerd. Whoosh! PEW PEW!
Did you all watch Wild China? I liked it so much I put my face on it bought the DVD.
Dimrill wrote:
People who stand at my window constantly staring at me will know of my passion of watching documentary channels, so I thought I'd start this thread to like talk about them and stuff.

Last night I watched The Secret History of Airports (still on iPlayer now) and it's a fascinating look at something quite mundane by today's standards. One of the best bits was discussing the pictoral signs around the place, with an hilarious clip of an man back in the 50's being asked why all the signs were only in English with no pictures. "Well, for instance the lady in a dress for the women's lavatories, an arab gentleman may mistake what the room was for!" 8) Harems for Heathrow.

Other than that, Deadliest Catch of course. But no fucker ever responds when I use the thread for that.


In a previous life I had to spend time being paid to watch documentaries while encoding them for t'web. Trouble was we had to do it in multiple languages and American Chopper in German or French was quite dull. Amusingly some tapes contained the foreign languages on one of the four tracks you get on Beta so you'd have 4 languages going on at once and would be trying to ensure each one was correct.
Did they dub them? That's.... terrible. Subtitles shirley.
Dimrill wrote:
Did they dub them? That's.... terrible. Subtitles shirley.


Dubbed. Always amusing to see Chris Barrie dubbed by a butch German. It was the Disco(duck-Ed) Channel and it was/is their standard policy for those funny foriegns.
Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
I cannot tolerate American documentaries, fifteen minutes of good stuff wrapped up with fifteen minutes of previews of the good stuff to come after the break and half an hour of recaps of the good stuff they just showed you. See also: Mythbusters.


The Crime & Investigation channel is full of stuff like that. Usually an interest subject padded out to fill an hour and as some of subjects can be going back a few years it's stock footage a-go-go.
Also crime docs with stupid reconstructions in them. Bad documentary makers, bad!
Just me, then!
jonarob wrote:
Just me, then!

Was that the BBC2 nature documentary thingy? Mrs C and I watched that and loved it. The little peeks into rural Chinese life were quite interesting sidelines from the fish and birds and yaks and beautiful mountains.

I was amazed that the BBC had complaints that a nature documentary had not raised the fact that China was run by TEH EVIL DICTATORZ with an appalling human rights record, though. You think you know the depths of idiocy to which the denizens of this counry can sink, and then they go and surprise you again.
We've got the documentary channels with SKY. Which is nice.
I heartily enjoyed "The Secret Life of the Motorway".

Helen mercilessly mocked me, but I found it fascinating. I've driven over the Pennine section of the M62 hundreds of times, so seeing that stranded farmhouse as a remote, cut off location was amazing.
kalmar wrote:
I have a guilty secret of liking to watch Cops and other real life police follow-em-around-em-ups.

There, I said it.


Met too, I love watching Road Wars.

And I do watch a lot of the LA/Miami/London Ink programs..
I can get easily drawn into documentaries on almost any subject, as long as they're well produced and presented with enthusiasm. Nothing is worse than some old bint droning on about semi important dead folk. Nothing better than bringing new stuff to light and the past back to life.
There is a superb drama-documentary about Chernobyl, starring Adrian Edmonson. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Plissken wrote:
There is a superb drama-documentary about Chernobyl, starring Adrian Edmonson. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Yes! It was excellent. No stupid Russian accents, either.
I fell asleep watching Storyville - Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson last night. Made it as far as the last half hour & was fair enjoying it, but too tired. At least it's on the iPlayer till the 3rd of August, so I'll get to see the end of it :)
Ah, nice one. Downloading now.
Great documentary.

Interviewer: You reported that the candidate was on drugs
Hunter: No, I reported that there was a rumour in Milwakee that the candidate was on drugs. I know this as I started the rumour in Milwakee, I am a very accurate journalist.
Just watched the end of it, the exploding Gonzo Monument is awesome :)
Well I'm not so sure this belongs in this thread as such, but just wanted to alert everyone to this, which sounds excellent.

Quote:
Serious TV biographies of serious people are thin on the ground, so bless BBC4 for this sturdy examination of Nobel prize-winning chemist Professor Howard Florey. Australian Florey (The Wire's Dominic West) picked up and ran with the work of Alexander Fleming to develop penicillin in industrial quantities, thus saving millions of lives. Yet he always refused to patent his discovery and exploit it commercially. West is a commanding presence and Breaking the Mould: the Story of Penicillin paints Florey as a quiet, decent man, overshadowed by the starry Alexander Fleming (played here by a suave Denis Lawson).
They've ruined The First 48 midway through the 10th season. Utterly ruined it.

Steadfast and sensible voiceover man has been replaced with a hideous gravely voiced man. They've added horrible computer generated reconstructions of the murders which simultaneously look terrible and also show incredible lack of respect for the deceased. The 911 calls are accompanied by a winamp style 3D waveform graphic. Every scene is a fast cut edit nightmare catering to the short attention span. And most damningly of all some of the investigation is obviously acted instead of just filmed as it happens.

I am incredibly upset by this.
Besides all the other issues mentioned here, my pet bugbear is the use of (usually totally inappropriate) music in documentaries and other 'factual' programmes - it drives me up the wall.

Well chosen music CAN enhance a documentary, but even then it's often better to simply hear the normal sounds.

The BBC's output has been getting noticeably worse in this aspect of late - too much music, most of it poorly chosen and too damn LOUD.

Makes me mad.
While clearly no-one on this forum supports the illegal downloading of television programmes, I've become a big fan of docs4you.org. It's a huge depository for old documentary series, sorted by channel. The BBC section of the forum contains (at the moment) 1,712 threads, with some of them containing multiple shows - one thread alone contains pretty much everything Adam Curtis has ever produced. Splendid stuff.
Plissken wrote:
There is a superb drama-documentary about Chernobyl, starring Adrian Edmonson. I can't recommend it highly enough.


I know this was mentioned on here before (or maybe even on WoS a couple of years or so back), and just recently I managed to see it as they're repeating this series on the History Channel or one of those.

Anyway, yeah, it was very good stuff.
Bering Sea Gold (or Gold Divers on the UK Discovery.) Dead good. It's loike they's suckin up gowld off of the sea floor or sutin!
Dimrill wrote:
Bering Sea Gold (or Gold Divers on the UK Discovery.) Dead good. It's loike they's suckin up gowld off of the sea floor or sutin!


This is ace. Cheers! Every single one of the machines looks like it's fresh out of Scrapheap Challenge.
If'n you like that, Gold Rush is also bloody good.
Dimrill wrote:
If'n you like that, Gold Rush is also bloody good.


Ace, I’ll check that one out. I love all of these documentaries.
Make shooah you start with season one of that, it's quite a narrative rather than a dip-in.
Dimrill wrote:
Make shooah you start with season one of that, it's quite a narrative rather than a dip-in.


I will do now Sickbeard makes it so easy.
Dimrill wrote:
If'n you like that, Gold Rush is also bloody good.


I'm two episodes into this, and Colonel Sanders is doing my head in. But it's pretty good so far. Also: stop calling it a Glory Hole!
I ended up rooting against them. Todd in particular is just a bully who's only capable of pressing the "this is the greatest country in the world" button to motivate the team, and thanking jesus for the opportunity to not find gold. Whereas I love John Schnabel who runs the Big Nugget Mine over the river.
Dimrill wrote:
I ended up rooting against them. Todd in particular is just a bully who's only capable of pressing the "this is the greatest country in the world" button to motivate the team, and thanking jesus for the opportunity to not find gold. Whereas I love John Schnabel who runs the Big Nugget Mine over the river.


There doesn't really seem to be anyone particularly likeable, or even memorable, does there. But John is certainly awesome.
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