Science picks

From awe-inspiring octopi and squid to dramatized Darwin, here's a look at a few science projects due to hit networks in the near future
November 1, 2009


Produced by: MC4 (France) and Ideacom (Canada)

Partners: Science Channel U.S., CBC, Discovery International, France 3. Distributed worldwide by ZED, France

Air date: 2010

Not to be confused with the James Cameron IMAX doc from 2005, this 52-minute science/wildlife one-off focuses on the enigmatic octopus. Directed by renowned wildlife directors Jerome Julienne and John Jackson, this doc follows two teams of marine biologists as they study one of nature’s more slippery (pun intended) creatures. Julienne and Jackson spent two years with the scientists, as they voyaged to the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean to gain valuable knowledge of the octopus’ intellect. As a mother octopus dies after giving birth, no knowledge is transmitted from mother to young. Thus, the typical young octopus has to fend for itself; luckily, it’s one of the smartest sea creatures in existence. ‘It’s an animal that uses tools to hunt and feed itself, and it has an incredible capacity for learning,’ says Celine Payot, ZED’s VP of international sales. ‘It actually learns from its mistakes… it’s an animal that’s always fascinated our imaginations.’ Aliens of the Deep will be delivered by December of this year.


Produced by: Ferns Productions (Canada), ScreenWorld (Australia), Screen Australia

Partners: ABC, CBC and ZDF-Arte, with the support of BC Film, the Canadian Television Fund and Screen New South Wales

Air date: Premiered on CBC in November, airing in November in Australia and the UK

With 2009 being effectively the Year of Darwin (it being the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species), the amount of material produced about the Father of Evolution this year has been staggering, including Nat Geo’s recent entrance into the scripted realm via a Darwin project, Darwin’s Darkest Hour. Ferns exec producer Andrew Ferns says this three-part docudrama, narrated by science superstar David Suzuki, stands apart from the pack as it examines the origins of Darwin’s ‘dangerous idea’ – specifically, the impact his time in the Southern Hemisphere had upon him and the impact of fellow scientists Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Russel Wallace. Each scientist had important experiences in the region, and this series, partially based on the book Darwin’s Armada by Professor Iain McCalman, examines their influence upon the dissemination of Darwin’s controversial, earth-shaking theory.


NHK, NHK Enterprises, Science Channel and Atlantic Productions are teaming up to capture yet another one of the sea’s most mysterious creatures for Giant Squid: Last Mystery of the Deep. The multi-part, multi-million dollar series will follow the efforts to find and film the elusive underwater leviathan, in cooperation with marine biologist and giant squid expert Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera. The doctor has the honor of leading the only team to have filmed the giant squid before, in 2006. But while that squid was sick and perishing on the surface of the sea, this production will try to track a healthy specimen by utilizing submersibles stacked with state-of-the-art underwater filming technology, deep sea fixed-position cameras, and special pressure-resistant cameras equipped with suction cups and affixed to the backs of whales. Sounds downright squid-tacular. Giant Squid: Last Mystery of the Deep is slated to air in 2012.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.