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Bill Nye makes much-needed return to television with ‘Bill Nye Saves the World’

Bill+Nye+the+Science+Guy+speaking+at+the+2016+Politicon+at+the+Pasadena+Convention+Center+in+Pasadena%2C+California.
Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Bill Nye the Science Guy speaking at the 2016 Politicon at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California.

If anyone can save the world, Bill Nye can. Luckily for us, he has now returned to television. Well, technically he has now entered the online streaming world of Netflix, but that seems just as good as television these days. He has triumphantly returned in his new Netflix series “Bill Nye Saves the World.”

Nye, a well-known science educator and television presenter, is, of course, best known for the children’s science education series “Bill Nye the Science Guy” which aired during the 1990s. Ever since then, the show has served as the go-to method for lazy science teachers to get out of doing any work. Just pop in a Bill Nye video for class that day, and you’re good to go.

The new series differs from his older one in a number of ways. The first and foremost difference is that “Saves the World” is not necessarily a children’s show. It’s more of a science show for adults, as Nye admits during the opening episode. He retains the sort of crazy, over-the-top tone of “Science Guy” in this new series, but to a watered down degree. 

Another key difference is that this time around, he uses science to discuss what many would consider controversial topics, unlike his show in the ’90s, which revolved more around explaining scientific concepts in an entertaining way. Still, Nye has an almost irresistible presence on screen that has not changed in the past 20 years.

Nye begins each episode by introducing the topic, which has included things like climate change, artificial intelligence, alternative medicine, genetically modified organisms and other similar topics. He then sends a correspondent into the field to do some field reporting on the issue. Then, he hosts a panel of experts to discuss the topic further, which marks another difference with this series. It has a talk show segment built into each episode. The panelists have ranged from university professors to actors and comedians, so Nye makes sure to include a range of individuals and makes sure to hear their viewpoints.

However, the panel segment sometimes comes off as awkward and strange. Nye does not have much experience as a talk show host and this occasionally becomes apparent because it does not seem like he really knows how to run a panel and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak.

In each episode, Nye unapologetically shares his views on the issue in question. As a result of this, the show becomes rather biased. He discusses controversial issues, but it sometimes feels like he wants you to simply believe what he believes instead of offering a well-rounded perspective on the issue and trying to understand other viewpoints. Nye is now on Netflix though, this is not network television anymore. He doesn’t have to play by the rules

via GIPHY

Still, the show does what Nye does best, it brings science to a larger audience by making the presentation of scientific concepts and ideas funny and entertaining. He retains the charisma of his younger years on his former show and continues to make science fun.

You certainly do not have to be a science nerd or anything in particular to enjoy this show. It successfully mixes the scientific aspect with enough humor and other entertainment value to keep members of all sorts of audiences engaged. Zach Braff even shows up at one point, and other celebrities make cameo appearances as well.

“Saves the World” may not be a kid’s show, but this does not mean that kids cannot watch it. It’s not inappropriate for children or anything like that, it just is not geared toward kids the way “Science Guy” was.

If nothing else, it simply feels good to have Bill Nye back on television, where he belongs. If anyone can save the world, he can.

via GIPHY

The first season of “Bill Nye Saves the World” is now fully available for streaming on Netflix.

Grade: B+


Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter

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