CBC’s ‘Doc Zone’ puts “Magical Mystery Cures” to the test

The documentary, airing Thursday night on CBC and hosted by beloved Canadian radio host Bob McDonald, takes a look at various "nutraceuticals" and the claims their manufacturers make.
March 9, 2011

As the long-running host of the CBC radio science show Quirks and Quarks, Bob McDonald has made a career of explaining headline-hitting science to Canadians.

Magical Mystery Cures, on the other hand, directed and produced by Nick Orchard and written and hosted by Bob McDonald for the CBC’s ‘Doc Zone,’ mesmerizes not by translating science, but parodying our culture and its obsession with youth.

“Our purpose wasn’t to expose,” explains Nick Orchard of Soapbox Productions.

Instead, the CBC doc entertains as science guy McDonald tries out the varied pills and potions claiming miraculous results, and lets the audience ultimately decide whether their claims of being scientifically proven are valid.

“Some things do work, in a limited way. A lot of the skin treatments, you have to go back and redo six months later. Some of them were very questionable. And so that was the approach to the show, to get behind products and their claims,” Orchard said.

Of course, many of the products featured in the CBC documentary are bogus, meaning Health Canada considers them neither drugs nor pharmaceuticals, but “nutraceuticals” deemed safe only because they do no harm.

Headline-hitting science can be extremely complex for the layperson. To get around that obstacle, Magical Mystery Cures puts McDonald, a known and respected science translator for Canadians, front and center.

“I’m sure science programming for mainstream TV can be boring. But if you have a David Suzuki or a Bob McDonald, who makes it so easily understandable and engaging, it can work,” Orchard argued.

Magical Mystery Cures airs Thursday at 9 pm on the main CBC network, and repeats Friday at 10 p.m. on CBC News Network.

(From Playback Daily)

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