TV: How It's Made
On my travels, I've found it hard to start into the sightseeing and exploration of a new city immediately upon arrival. After what often amounts to a full eight hour day riding in airplanes, waiting in airports, and lugging your bags around, the act of finally checking in at your hotel represents the end of the day's journey, not the beginning. You throw your burdens down, you plop yourself onto the bed, and you turn on the TV.
One show that we happened to see quite a few bits of in this type of interstitial moment is "How It's Made." It's a documentary series on Discovery Channel that shows how ordinary objects are (mass)produced. The setup is simple - you see big conveyor belts or factory workers working on some cryptic item, and an offscreen narrator tells you what is happening. Here's a sample bit to show you what I mean:
Now, this in and of itself isn't very fascinating (I think "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" was doing something similar several decades ago). What really makes the show is the hypnotic quality of the narration - I'm not sure who the above host is, but his matter-of-fact tone combined with the inherently mundane nature of the action on-screen makes for television Zen. "How It's Made" probably won't win any Emmys, but it makes for occasionally curious viewing.