Guess what? It’s not boring. Far from it. After hearing that The Sundance Channel was embarking on a three hour block of green-themed programming, many wondered what would keep viewers glued to the screen for that long. After all, isn’t America Idol on?
The good news is, much like other eco-related projects, THE GREEN is a polished, entertaining, and — dare I say — educational piece of television. I’ve managed to consume a few selections from the premiere this coming Tuesday at 9pm. The first was a 90-minute documentary entitled A Crude Awakening. This is a wonderfully well-done introduction to the subject of Peak Oil. Whether it happens in 10 years or 50, oil is a finite substance that will one day be as rare as gold. THE GREEN takes you on a history of the oil boom, its role in shaping our society, and its future in potentially destroying it. Most memorable are the scenes in which the documentary explores oil-boom towns across the world that are now abandoned, eerie landscapes. Once rich and prosperous, the social wealth and people disappeared as soon as nature had nothing left to give. We’re facing a dangerous precipice today if attention is not paid to developing alternative fuels and energy to petroleum. I give praise to the film’s producers for stumbling upon some incredible footage; including rare film of Marion King Hubbert, father of the Peak Oil theory. Props go out to Matt Savinar from lifeaftertheoilcrash for delivering some great dialogue as well.
Turning away from some dark undertones of future calamity, Sundance presents a pick-me-up of sorts in the half-hour show, Big Ideas (for a small planet). This series focuses on the people making changes today to improve the world around them. Dr. David Suzuki, Laurie David, and a host of other notable individuals offer commentary. The premiere, entitled FUEL, showcases a guy who drag races on vegetable oil, a woman who converts classic cars into biodiesel beauties, and an Indy racer who has switched completely to ethanol. It’s inspiring, as well as entertaining. There is even a cameo by everyone’s favorite Saturn EV1 salesperson turned eco-celebrity, Chelsea Sexton.
Intrigued by FUEL, I skipped ahead to April 24th’s BUILD. Covering green building, this episode of Big Ideas is intriguing because I’m starting my own potential green home next summer. We’re offered a look at green modular building, urban sustainable projects for low-income families (something I’m sure Majora Carter was happy to see) and a futuristic home made entirely from trees. Just plant and wait 15 years before moving in.
Overall, I really believe that Sundance is raising the bar on high-value green themed television. The production is top-notch, the people engaging, and most importantly, the content is interesting. You’re not being yelled at, you’re not meant to feel guilty, you’re simply turning off the television feeling empowered and informed. Who needs American Idol?
For more information, check out THE GREEN’s official site. For those without cable, here’s to hoping the series moves to DVD shortly. Catch it this Tuesday at 9PM EST on The Sundance Channel.
As an aside, it should be noted that Sundance shipped screeners of these shows in 100% recycled cardboard holders and included press releases using soy-based ink and recycled paper. Nice move.