In my quest to find the best eco programming out there, I endured a green TV marathon, during which I sat through dozens of hours of enviro-themed shows: specials, regular series, network, cable, news and weather channels.
My once-green eyes have turned red, my DVR remote thumb is raw, and my REM sleep is overrun with images of global warming, endangered species and, even scarier, a couple of corny TV “personalities.”
Here, in no particular order, is the best of what’s out there:
1. Big Ideas for a Small Planet
(series, Sundance/SUND) Last year, longtime activist Robert Redford announced a much-anticipated green block of programming on the Sundance Channel, and “the kid” did not disappoint, starting with this gem of a show. Simplicity rules with each episode exploring a single topic like water, kids, work, cities and fashion.
In the gadgets episode, we learn that “electronic gadgets have greatly improved energy efficiency, yet their toxic components can be harmful to the environment.” Local green heroes and activists across America drive each show, giving the series a homespun, accessible feel. Their stories are interspersed with scientists and eco experts but it’s never a lecture…just the facts, ma’am.
2. Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff
(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Anchor Bob Woodruff‘s weekly eco newscast explores everything from climate change impact to world events. In a recent episode Woodruff checks out Sarah Palin‘s environmental track record and delves into how the greening of Wall Street (a green collar workforce and eco-friendly jobs) will affect our future. Packed with facts, debates and interviews, and moving at the brisk pace you’d expect from an ABC News production, this show makes a difference.
3. Living With Ed
(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Props to Planet Green for plucking this show from HGTV, who unceremoniously dumped it. Yes…Ed Begley, Jr. lives! Sure, Ed’s scenes with his “holdout” wife Rachelle can seem contrived as they often wink to the camera, but at the heart of this show is Ed himself, a true eco warrior who deserves all the screen time he gets. Ed is like the uber nerd who grew into a thoughtful Earth daddy and was at it way before many of us even cared. His wife and daughter are fun accessories, but the real story and soul is Hollywood’s green guru.
In this show, celebrities flock to Ed to get secrets and in turn, he puts the spotlight on green stars and their innovative lifestyles. Ed’s rivalry with neighbor Bill Nye “the Science Guy” (see “Stuff Happens”) is particularly fun to watch; one can’t help but believe some of their repartee is actually real competition.