Race To Escape

Discovery’s sister network Science, having idly glanced over the sort of stuff The History Channel gets away with every day, has announced a new slate of shows exploring the scientific principle that people really like game shows, YouTube clips, and exploding spaceships. Rita Mullin, general manager for the network, has assured viewers that the network’s goal is to “make learning about science fun,” a line as convincing now as it was when your old science teacher mumbled it while glumly pouring baking soda and vinegar into a badly painted papier-mâché volcano.

First up on the network’s new Regime Of Fun: Race To Escape, a game-show version of the increasingly popular real-life room escape trend that’s set to debut in July. Hosted by comedian and podcaster Jimmy Pardo, the game will pit two teams of three against each other to solve a series of clues and escape a locked room, thus demonstrating Newton’s Third Law Of Thermodynamics. (If we’re remembering our old high school science texts correctly, that’s the one that says it’s really hard to crack a giant cartoon safe while Jimmy Pardo is telling you to go suck on a muffler.)

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Race will be joined by another game show, Geek Out Or Freak Out, described as “Mr. Wizard meets Wipeout.” But although that description conjures a lovely image of a stream of nondescript children visiting a cranky shut-in and getting repeatedly bludgeoned by giant foam blocks, it seems the show will actually be a combination of science trivia, stunts, and “unusual science experiments.” Presumably that last bit means most of the program’s budget will go toward things like securing a vast cache of Diet Coke and Mentos and paying for the Will It Blend guy’s travel costs, all in the name of human innovation.

And while exploring the laws of probability through game shows is all well and good, the network isn’t forgoing the direct instruction of scripted programming, either. Short Attention Span Science was also announced, the perfect show for anyone who watches Cosmos on fast-forward, happily giggling while the universe explodes. Explicitly modeled on YouTube web videos, the show will delve into the great mysteries of the universe, including the Big Bang and the origin of life, in the two-minute blocks that the topics both deserve and demand.

Other new shows in the works include Secret Space Disasters, which will probably feature fewer clips from Star Wars and Armageddon than one might hope for, and Outrageous Acts Of Psych, a spinoff of the network’s popular clip show, Outrageous Acts Of Science. All told, an impressive stable of new programs, all threatening to make Science so gosh darn fun that it doesn’t seem like science at all.

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