Saturday, June 14, 2008

Another Green World

I never watched the Discovery Home channel very much. It seems like the only time I ever watched it was when Kylie Kwong's cooking show was on. But as you probably already know, Discovery Home has recently changed its name to Planet Green, and it also changed its programming to reflect its new focus.

I'm all for environmental awareness, and even though I'm not a fanatic about it, I used to do environmentally friendly stuff way back when it was still relatively difficult. For example, I was recycling stuff in the early '80s, and back then, most cities didn't have a curbside recycling program, so you had to load up your car with old bottles and newspapers and drive to a recycling center, provided you could find one.

So I was looking forward to seeing what kind of programming Planet Green had to offer. I was hoping it would be like some of the shows on the Sundance channel. I really like some of the Sundance shows. They profile backyard inventors who are living off the grid using generators of their own design, or people who have designed conversion kits to allow cars to run on used cooking oil, or architectural and city planning firms that specialize in sustainable architecture using renewable resources. There's a lot of useful and interesting information in shows like that, and I was hoping that that's the kind of thing Planet Green was going to offer.

But based on what I saw last Wednesday, it doesn't even come close. Admittedly, I only watched for about 30 minutes, which might not be enough to form an educated opinion, but on the other hand, 30 minutes was about all I could stand to watch.

I don't know the name of the show I was watching, but it was hosted by Adrian Grenier, who is billed in their advertisements as "one of Hollywood's top stars" or something like that. But don't feel too bad if you've never heard of him -- I only know of him because I've seen countless promos on HBO for its show, Entourage. I've never actually watched that show, but from what I've seen of the promos, I can tell I'm not actually missing anything.

Anyway, on his Planet Green show, Adrian Grenier doesn't have an entourage, but he does have a "posse." From what I saw, he and his posse just act hip and trendy and cool and congratulate each other on how "eco" they all are. Well, there's a little more to the show than that -- they also go to trendy boutiques and buy things made out of recycled materials. I don't know what they do with those things when the show is over, but I guess it doesn't matter, since by buying the products, they're demonstrating to us that they support the green movement.

And apparently, from the show's perspective, the reason for supporting the movement is to feel better about yourself. As a matter of fact, Grenier was interviewing some woman who was doing something "green" -- I forget what it was but maybe she was growing vegetables in her backyard using compost produced from leaves and grass clippings or something -- and he said something like, "I bet this makes you feel good about yourself." Fortunately, she had more sense than he did and she replied, "You don't do this to feel good about yourself -- you do it because it's the right thing to do." It was the only moment of truth in the entire show.

The other show was called Hollywood Green or something like that, and from what I could tell from the 15 seconds or so that it took me to find the remote and turn of the TV, the show just highlights the various "green" activities that famous movie and television stars have engaged in. I've never understood celebrity worship -- probably because I formed a lot of my core beliefs between the late '60s and mid '70s, and there was a pretty strong backlash against celebrity worship back then. However, even though that probably sounds like a reasonable explanation to you, it may not be the correct one. As it turns out, I know plenty of people who are a lot younger than I am and they don't seem to care much about celebrities either. So even though it might have something to do with how old you are and when you grew up, it probably has more to do with how smart you are or how much common sense you have.

But whatever the reason, since I happen to think that famous people aren't necessarily any more interesting than anyone else, I don't particularly care about some actor who put hardwood floors made from reclaimed wood in his expensive oversized mansion. That's just a hypothetical example, of course, and using reclaimed wood is the right thing to do, but there's no need to advertise it on TV.

So those are my initial impressions of Planet Green, where the focus is on entertainment at the cost of information. And just to make things clear, I'm all in favor of entertainment, as long as it's actually entertaining. But if it isn't, then it's just a waste of time. And if it's annoying, that's even worse.

But to be fair, I watched the channel again a few days later and the show I was watching was actually somewhat interesting. The host was mildly annoying, of course, but that's to be expected, whether a show is on Planet Green, HGTV, or sometimes even the Food Channel.

So I haven't written off Planet Green for good -- I'll probably tune in every now and then, just because the potential for it to be an interesting and informative channel is so great, and once the channel matures a little, it may get on the right track to meeting that potential. So I haven't given up on it completely. But I do sort of miss Kylie Kwong, even though all her shows were reruns.