I have seen the future. It's all Netflix all the time, no commercials and the entire Canadian TV industry has collapsed, except for the CBC, which features a 99-year-old Pastor Mansbridge still coaxing baffling pronouncements from the At Issue panel, which is on daily.
Kidding. I have seen the future, courtesy of CBC and you can, too. It seems that in the future we'll be getting a spare ear, thanks to 3-D printing. Also, we will motor in driverless cars to the forest to engage in a doctor-ordered session to help cure something called "nature deficit disorder." The weather, mind you, will be atrocious. It will be bucketing down rain all day and all night. Not kidding. Sound like hokum? Some of it is.
The Nature of Things – Dreams of the Future (CBC, 8 p.m. Thursday) is one of those special N.O.T. shows hosted and reported by the eternally effervescent Dr. Jennifer Gardy. It's all about new technology and exploring fresh ideas. Like we all need to do. Before Gardy turns up to make the future sound terrific, our old friend David Suzuki appears momentarily and says, "It can be a challenge keeping up." More true words were never spoken.
Then it's off to New York and a showcase for the 3-D print racket. Gardy gazes upon a dress created by the one such printer and says, "Cool!" Just in case we get the impression that being a scientist and all, a molecular biologist, no less, she's not into schmata. That's the way TV works.
Anyway, apparently if these printers were around when van Gogh lopped off his ear, he could have got a replacement, easy-peasy. The next step in the glorious vista that is 3-D printing, we are informed, is 3-D-printed prosthetics for kids in emerging nations. That's just great. And it seems that everybody featured is sincere. And yet, there's something that's just too "oh wow!" about this picture of the future. I'll believe it when I see it.
Gardy says "oh wow!" a lot. And no wonder. The technology is vastly impressive. "Keep an eye open for 3-D printers in operating rooms near you!" she declares with an implied "oh wow!" Yes, yes, but while watching this I mused (like you do) that this promise of help for kids in emerging nations in Africa won't be of much use if Ebola is decimating vast populations. That, too, is a vision of the future.
Then it's driverless cars. "Driverless" is a misnomer, Gardy informs us, but she's still having fun. Oh, the future is loads and loads of fun.
The really interesting segment takes her to Japan, where a condition called "nature deficit disorder" is taken seriously. It's all about "the art of letting Mother Nature in through all of your senses." Which sounds like hippie cant. A scientist guy puts a hat on your head that allegedly measures your relaxation and stress. Gardy is the first non-Japanese person to take the test. She looks very fetching in the hat, truth be told. But it all seems less about science than common sense. Gardy is measured while walking in the forest and measured while walking around a busy section of Tokyo. Guess where she is less stressed? Right. You don't win a prize.
One supposes that there is merit in the assertion "memory and mood improve after just looking at nature scenes." But it does seem rather obvious.
Moving along, on the matter of the future, Doc Zone: Weather Gone Wild (CBC, 9 p.m. Thursday) is an hour-long weather forecast from hell. Wild weather, the result of climate change, is inevitable. There are elements of weather porn to the program. We see a lot of footage of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, tornadoes in Oklahoma and the deluge in Calgary in 2013. And that day in July, 2013 when Toronto was hit by flash flooding is given lavish attention.
The point of the program, though, is to explain to us what measures are being taken to help deal with the destructive weather of the future. From old-fashioned diversion of water in Alberta to gee-whiz technology used to protect the Whitney Museum in New York. None of it comes cheap.
The upshot of the two programs is this – the future will be brilliant, but there will be flooding. The first is hokum, the second is sobering. Really, those who made The Nature of Things – Dreams of the Future should have seen the Doc Zone program about wild weather. They might not have been so giddy. You and me, on the other hand, can see both programs and make up our own minds. That's an "oh wow!" for us.