Everything about The Nature of Things, eh?

The Nature of Things explores music in “I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song”

Have I sung in the shower? The car? When I thought no one was listening? Absolutely. We all have at some point and it’s a trait humans share. We’re addicted to music, whether we’re doing it or we’re listening to someone else. But why?

The answer is explored in Thursday’s new instalment of The Nature of Things in “I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song.” Producer-director Connie Edwards and a phalanx of scientists and experts explore the impact music has on our lives.

“Ever since I was young I have always believed that music was an inherent part of being human,” Edwards says in the doc’s press materials. “As a ‘girl singer’ I saw and felt the effect that music had on people but I could never quantify it. Music has moved my soul from the beginning, but it has only been in the last 15 years or so that science appears to have taken a serious interest in why we sing, hum, warble, pluck or blow into instruments. Our team literally travelled around the world to meet with some incredible scientists and researchers who are doing ground-breaking scientific work using music. What was fascinating was how many of the scientists/researchers were also accomplished musicians.”

“I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song” kicks off at McMaster University, where an audience—wired to sensors—listens to a band perform two songs. One is fast-paced and more likely to initiate swaying, and the other more low-key (see what I did there?). It doesn’t take long for some interesting results to emerge. Swaying or bobbing your head to music is contagious, as is experiencing tunes together, like at a concert or public event. It’s a fact scientists have discovered dates back to the Neanderthals, who crafted flutes out of animal bone.

And, it may be that music and rhythm doesn’t just make us feel good or bad emotionally, but it could literally heal. A Gothenburg, Sweden, study explored whether listening to music would help hpatients suffering from stress-induced cardiomyopathy, a.k.a. broken heart syndrome, while another test examines how early babies recognize, react and socialize with others after experiencing rhythm.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m on CBC.


The Nature of Things explores the lives of “Pompeii’s People”

I’ve been fascinated with the story of Pompeii from a young age. A town full of people and animals who were overrun by the ash from an erupting volcano? It set my imaginative mind reeling. It still does, so I was jazzed to learn it was the focus of The Nature of Things‘ season return on Thursday.

“Pompeii’s People” follows host David Suzuki—who first visited the site 43 years ago on his honeymoon—as he is given unprecedented access to the Roman town, exploring the importance of the location to the Empire and the lives of its people buried under volcanic ash in 79 AD after Mount Vesuvius erupted.

Technology plays a huge part in the project, as aerial photography,  dramatic recreations, CGI and other scientific applications peel back the layers of volcanic matter to reveal a stunning, and surprisingly relatable way of life. Handel Productions and Twofour Group do an incredible job not just recreating the story behind the demise of the 12,000 residents located in the coastal town near Naples, but focusing on the well-off and working class folks walking the cobbles. No stone is unexplored, as footage includes an analysis of roadways and a warren of one-way streets and homes are digitally reconstructed to show warmly painted walls, frescoes and skylights in ceilings. Suzuki is welcomed into the former home of a fish sauce merchant, who adorned his property with mosaics of his product, showing a knack for advertising more than 1,500 years before Mad Men.


Next up on Suzuki’s walk is the forum, where public areas offered citizens a place to converse, play games, buy goods from the open-air market or worship at the Temple of Jupiter.

The most interesting part of Thursday’s return for me was the recreation of Pompeii’s people. I think everyone has seen pictures of the plaster casts of the dog, woman and child, and man, all frozen in time and contorted after being buried in ash. Now computers are digitally removing the plaster and x-rays reveal the bones to understand what Pompeians looked like, what they ate and how they lived. It’s particularly stunning to see how the vaguely human form of a dead soldier is transformed by technology into a young man.

Also analyzed: the rearing of animals and livestock, what garbage says about what Pompeians ate and the role of sex in their society. Informative, educational and entertaining, “Pompeii’s People” is well worth checking out.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.


CBC announces fall broadcast dates for new and returning series

From a media release:

CBC today announced premiere dates for its fall 2016 television season, featuring a diverse and uniquely Canadian slate of six new and 18 returning series including premium drama and comedy, cutting-edge news and investigative content, original documentaries and engaging factual, arts, kids, daytime and sports programming.

New primetime series include THIS IS HIGH SCHOOL (6×60), premiering Sun. Oct 2, which will offer unprecedented and unfiltered access to real life at a Canadian high school; comedy KIM’S CONVENIENCE (13×30), the funny, heartfelt story of a Korean-Canadian family running a convenience store in Toronto, premiering Tues. Oct. 4; and political thriller SHOOT THE MESSENGER (8×60), premiering Mon. Oct. 10, which centres on the complex relationships between crime reporters and the police.

CBC’s daytime programming welcomes the highly anticipated one-hour weekday program THE GOODS on Mon. Oct 3, hosted by Steven Sabados, Jessi Cruickshank, Shahir Massoud and Andrea Bain, who will offer playful inspiration and information on home, style, food and wellness; while new Kids’ CBC original series include the Tues. Sept 6 world premiere of animated adventure DOT. (52×11), based on the children’s book by entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg, and photography competition series SNAPSHOTS (6×30), premiering Sat. Sept. 10.

Returning for new seasons are CANADA’S SMARTEST PERSON (season 3); DRAGONS’ DEN (season 11); EXHIBITIONISTS (season 2); HEARTLAND (season 10); HELLO GOODBYE (season 2); MR. D (season 6); MURDOCH MYSTERIES (season 10); RICK MERCER REPORT (season 14); THE ROMEO SECTION (season 2); THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES (season 24); and THIS LIFE (season 2). Also returning are acclaimed news and investigative programs MARKETPLACE (season 44) and the fifth estate (season 42); thought-provoking documentary series FIRSTHAND (season 2); David Suzuki’s THE NATURE OF THINGS (season 56); and weekly CBC Sports series ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES.  THE MOBLEES (season 2) and BIG BLOCK SINGSONG (season 3) return for new seasons on Kids’ CBC.

The complete CBC fall premiere schedule is as follows:

7:45 a.m. (8:15 NT) — The Moblees

8 a.m. (8:30 NT) — Dot. *NEW SERIES*

8:23 a.m. (8:53 NT) — Big Block Singsong

9 a.m. (9:30 NT) — Snapshots *NEW SERIES*

4:30 p.m. (5:00 NT) – Exhibitionists

7 p.m. (7:30 NT) — Heartland

8 p.m. (8:30 NT) — This is High School *NEW SERIES*

9 p.m. (9:30 NT) — This Life

2 p.m. (2:30 NT) — The Goods *NEW SERIES*

8 p.m. (8:30 NT) — Rick Mercer Report

8:30 p.m. (9 NT) — This Hour Has 22 Minutes

9 p.m. (9:30 NT) — Kim’s Convenience *NEW SERIES*

8 p.m. (8:30 NT) — Dragons’ Den

9 p.m. (9:30 NT) — The Romeo Section

8 p.m. (8:30 NT) — The Nature of Things: “Pompeii’s People”

9 p.m. (9:30 NT) — Firsthand: “Road to Mercy”

8 p.m. (8:30 NT) — Murdoch Mysteries

9 p.m. (9:30 NT) — Shoot the Messenger *NEW SERIES*

9:30 p.m. (10 NT) — Mr. D

8 p.m. (8:30 NT) — Marketplace

8:30 p.m. (9 NT) — Hello Goodbye

9 p.m. (9:30 NT) — the fifth estate

4 p.m. ET (1 pm PT) — Road to the Olympic Games

8 p.m. (8:30 NT) — Canada’s Smartest Person


The Nature of Things delves into the cost of keeping our pets healthy

How far would you go—and how much would you spend—to ensure the health and welfare of your pet? Speaking from experience, a lot. Our previous cat, Scout, was a mixture of Maine coon and other breeds and needed costly surgery to repair a wonky left hip. Six months later, we paid to have the right side fixed. Later in life, Scout needed daily injections to combat diabetes and when he passed away we paid to have him cremated and his ashes put into an urn. I don’t know how much we spent on his health from birth to death, but it wasn’t cheap. The thing is, mine is a common story.

Thursday’s instalment of The Nature of Things, “Pets, Vets & Debts,” explores the billion-dollar industry behind keeping our furry companions healthy. First, a few stunning stats: more than half of Canadian households own a pet. That means six million dogs and eight million cats. In the United States, more homes have cats and dogs than children. And, like their human owners, pets suffer from the same ailments as we do, including top killers cancer and kidney failure for felines and congenital issues, cancer and trauma in canines.

Cameras follow veterinarians and their staff into the high-tech Toronto Veterinary Hospital, speak to owners about how far they’ll go for their animal friends and those who view our beast besties as simply animals we shouldn’t become emotionally attached to. Seeing doctors quickly assess the health of Dexter the 12-year-old golden retriever is impressive, but it’s hard to watch the owners’ process the information and make a hard decision about the dog’s future. As his owners, Jonathan and Melissa state, Dexter is like their first child, a constant companion through the years.

On a more positive note, it’s simply amazing to see what’s being manufactured to help pets lead better lives. Take the case of Oliver, a dog born without front legs. Though he’s doing just fine, Oliver’s owner wanted to improve his life, so she had prosthetic front legs made for him by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care. Oliver was a little reluctant—and shaky—at first, but was soon bounding around on the ingenious apparatus.

Canadians spend over $2 billion on vet bills. Is it worth it? Are we caring too much about our pets? Tune in to “Pets, Vets & Debts” and let me know what you think in the comments below or via @tv_eh on Twitter.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.


The Nature of Things celebrates David Suzuki’s 80th birthday

I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I spoke to David Suzuki. Back in 2010, we chatted about Force of Nature, Sturla Gunnarson’s documentary about the things that shaped Suzuki’s career. Force of Nature marked the longtime Nature of Things host’s 75th birthday; now here we are ringing in Suzuki’s 80th on March 24 with another peek behind the curtain at his life.

Co-written and directed by Daniel and Donna Zuckerbrot of Reel Times Images, “Suzuki @ 80″—airing Thursday during The Nature of Things—not only spotlights the man and his exploits but talks to those who know him intimately.

Rather than re-trace old ground covered in Force of Nature—Suzuki’s childhood, education and lab work—”Suzuki @ 80″ spends the bulk of its time aiming the lens at his family, including daughters Sarika, Severn, Tamiko, Laura, son Troy and wife Tara, who discuss how he inspired them and also poke fun at the man also known as “Suzuk.” There’s a sweet story about how Suzuki spotted Tara in a packed university hall, were married soon after and are celebrating 42 years together. You can’t help but smile watching Suzuki gamely following his pint-sized grandkids along the B.C. shoreline, picking up shells and inspecting small, scuttling crabs. He’s like the cool uncle (or grandfather) you can’t wait to visit because he’s smart, funny and cool.

But the man who has morphed from scientist to geneticist, TV host, author and environmentalist isn’t perfect. One old colleague discusses Suzuki’s strong personality, and his daughter bemoans the fact a 2/3-full coffee cup set down for a moment will be scooped up and cleaned.

It’s ironic that, at one point during the broadcast, Suzuki states memories are his most treasured possession. As viewers, we have decades of them thanks to Suzuki and The Nature of Things.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Help celebrate Suzuki’s birthday by tweeting well-wishes with the tag #SuzukiAt80 on Twitter.