Decemberween: The Curiosity Show

Something weird that happened in my life the past few years is just how much the stuff I’ve been watching and reading lately has been contemporary. I’m used to a childhood where everything I saw was five years old, where the music I listened to was at most recent from just before I was born, where you saw one new movie a year. Thanks to this, now, I tend to watch media that’s either relatively new (like the last ten years) or well beforehand, before I was even born.

Back when I was a kid, things that got shared in the cult were either old (especially in the case of books) or several years out of date. Television was never really new stuff that I could watch, it was mostly reruns – just the nature of the beast. I didn’t really think anything of it, I mean, I was seven, what new content am I going to be yearning for?

One show that I watched on the rerun loop through the 90s was The Curiosity Show, a show that I was surprised to learn was not a universal touchstone amongst my peer group. Turns out that Fox didn’t like anything that wasn’t a cartoon (not even the Muppets), and most of my other friends had more up-to-date stuff to watch or did things like ‘hang out with friends’ on the weekends.

When it stopped being a thing that happened on Saturday mornings though, on the boring channel that didn’t get the cartoons that I wasn’t allowed to watch, The Curiosity Show or sometimes just Curiosity Show faded from my memory mostly only sticking around as one of those shows with a really awful theme tune that I thought deserved to mention in complaining about awful theme tunes.

Anyway, turns out the show ran from 1972 to 1989 which is ridiculous. It was a show about a pair of dorky scientists in bad sweaters talking about home-makeable experiments, and while I love the charm of it in hindsight it’s so incredibly weird to look back on it. They filled hours of programming with this? Really? And why is it so engaging? And why do I keep watching segments of it, if not just to make fun of the sweaters?

Curiosity Show is on Youtube – not in its entirety, but piecemeal, and seemingly, officially. It was Youtube before Youtube, a series of five minute videos on something being presented by someone who probably made the video in his shed. And it was lovely and charming. I’ve watched a bunch of it this year and some of it has been wonderful to see how science has moved on, and some of it just presents good or clever arts and crafts. It’s great stuff!

I am kinda bummed out to learn that one of the hosts, Dr Deane Hutton, is a Christian Scientist, a horrible religious organisation that gets babies killed. Bit of a downer to end on, but hey, I learned it, so I guess so do you now. That’s what curiosity’s all about.

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