- Nova (TV series)
The current Nova logo
Format Science Documentary Created by Michael Ambrosino Developed by Michael Ambrosino Opening theme Walter Werzowa,
Ray Loring (additional)
Country of origin United States No. of seasons 38 No. of episodes 698 (List of episodes) Production Executive producer(s) Paula Apsell Running time 55 minutes Broadcast Original channel PBS Picture format HDTV Original run March 3, 1974 – present External links Website
Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries. It has also won a variety of major television awards, most of them many times over.
Nova often includes interviews with scientists directly involved in the subject, and occasionally footage from the actual moment of a particular discovery. Some episodes have focused on historical aspects of science. Examples of topics include Colditz Castle, Drake equation, elementary particles, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, Fermat's Last Theorem, global warming, moissanite, Project Jennifer, storm chasing, Unterseeboot 869, Vinland, and the Tarim mummies.
The Nova programs are praised for their good pacing, clear writing, and crisp editing, with a website accompanying each segment. Nova's websites have also won awards.
Nova was created in 1974 by Michael Ambrosino, inspired by the BBC 2 television series Horizon, which Ambrosino had seen while working in the UK. In the early years, many Nova episodes were either co-productions with the BBC Horizon team, or other documentaries originating outside of the United States, with the narration re-voiced in American English. Of the first 50 programs, only 19 were original WGBH productions, and the very first Nova episode, "The Making of a Natural History Film", was originally an episode of Horizon. The practice continues to this day. All the producers and associate producers for the original Nova teams came from either England (with experience on the Horizon series) or Los Angeles or New York. Ambrosino was succeeded as executive producer by John Angier, John Mansfield, and Paula S. Apsell.
Nova has been recognized with multiple Peabody Awards and Emmy Awards. The series won a Peabody in 1974, citing it as "an imaginative series of science adventures", with a "versatility rarely found in television". Subsequent Peabodys went to specific episodes:
- "The Miracle of Life" (1983) was cited as a "fascinating and informative documentary of the human reproductive process" which used "revolutionary microphotographic techniques". The episode also won an Emmy.
- "Spy Machines" (1987) was cited for "neatly recount[ing] the key events of the Cold War and look[ing] into the future of American/Soviet SDI competition."
- "The Elegant Universe" (2003) was cited for exploring "science’s most elaborate and ambitious theory, the string theory" while making "the abstract concrete, the complicated clear, and the improbable understandable" by "blending factual story telling with animation, special effects, and trick photography." The episode also won an Emmy and a Peabody Award.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (responsible for documentary Emmys) recognized the series with awards in 1978, 1981, 1983, and 1989. Julia Cort won an Emmy in 2001 for writing "Life's Greatest Miracle". Emmys were also awarded for the following episodes:
- 1982 "Here's Looking at You, Kid"
- 1983 "The Miracle of Life" (also won a Peabody)
- 1985 "AIDS: Chapter One", "Acid Rain: New Bad News"
- 1992 "Suicide Mission to Chernobyl", "The Russian Right Stuff"
- 1994 "Secret of the Wild Child"
- 1995 "Siamese Twins", "Secret of the Wild Child"
- 1999 "Decoding Nazi Secrets"
- 2001 "Bioterror"
- 2002 "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens", "Mountain of Ice", "Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance", "Why the Towers Fell"
- 2003 "Battle of the X-planes", "The Elegant Universe" (also won a Peabody)
- 2005 "Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge"
Three episodes were nominated for 2004 Emmys:
- "Mars Dead or Alive"
- "The Crash of Flight 111"
- "The Most Dangerous Woman in America"
Funding for Nova is provided by Franklin Templeton Investments, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Viewers Like You. Funding was also provided by the following:
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting (March 3, 1974-April 24, 2001, October 2, 2001-March 25, 2005, April 19, 2005-present)
- viewers/stations (March 9, 1974 1974-1999, 1999-March 25, 2005, April 19, 2005-present)
- National Science Foundation (September 9, 1997, November 21, 2000-January 10, 2006, October 3, 2006-present)
- Polaroid (March 3, 1974-December 15, 1974)
- Exxon (March 3, 1974–August 25, 1981) (long before its merger with Mobil to form ExxonMobil)
- The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (some years including 1982, and sometimes sponsors later on for a couple of shows.) (October 6, 2009)
- Johnson & Johnson (September 27, 1981–April 19, 1994)
- AlliedSignal (October 8, 1985–April 5, 1988) (with Allied Corporation as its precursor; it was bought out by Honeywell in 1999)
- Prime Computer (September 6, 1988–March 28, 1989) (before being renamed Computervision in 1999)
- Lockheed Corporation (October 3, 1989–May 23, 1995) (before merging with Martin Marietta to become Lockheed Martin in 1995)
- Raytheon (October 10, 1995–April 16, 1996)
- Merck & Co. (October 11, 1994–April 15, 1997)
- Prudential (October 1, 1996–April 15, 1997)
- Park Foundation (October 7, 1997–2005)
- Iomega Corporation. (March 31, 1998-July 13, 1999)
- Northwestern Mutual Financial Network (January 6, 1998-May 9, 2000, October 24, 2000-November 26, 2002)
- CNET (October 5, 1999–May 9, 2000)
- David H. Koch (February 1, 2000-present)
- Dave Johnson Foundation (October 21, 2000)
- Sprint Corporation (October 24, 2000-October 30, 2001, November 6, 2001-May 7, 2002, September 3, 2002-February 22, 2005, March 29, 2005)
- EarthLink (April 23, 2001)
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (October 2, 2001)
- Morgan Stanley (March 26, 2002)
- Microsoft (April 1, 2003–February 22, 2005)
- the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (October 28, 2003-January 10, 2006 October 3, 2006-present)
- Volkswagen of America (October 28, 2003-November 4, 2003)
- George D. Smith (October 28, 2003-present)
- U.S. Department of Energy (October 28-2003-November 4, 2003-present)
- Marguerite and Jerry Lenfest (April 20, 2004)
- John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (April 20, 2004)
- Richard Goldman (April 20, 2004)
- Goldman Environmental Prize (April 20, 2004)
- William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (April 20, 2004)
- NASA (September 28, 29 2004)
- National Endowment for the Humanities (October 12, 2004)
- National Library of Medicine (October 12, 2004)
- Kavli Foundation (January 25, 2005-present)
- Google (April 19, 2005–December 26, 2006)
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (April 19, 2005–present)
- American Playhouse (November 15, 2005-present)
- BP (2006)
- The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation (February 6, 2007)
- American Chemical Society (February 6, 2007)
- Dow Chemical Company (October 9, 2007-present)
- Solow Art & Architecture Foundation (January 29, 2008)
- the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund (May 20, 2008)
- Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (May 20, 2008)
- Invitrogen Educational Foundation (May 20, 2008)
- Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (May 20, 2008)
- Teach Green Charitable Foundation (May 20, 2008)
- Nurture Nature Foundation (May 20, 2008)
- Pfizer (June 25, 2008)
- ExxonMobil (October 7, 2008-2010)
- Pacific Life (October 6, 2009-2010)
- Merrill Lynch (October 13, 2009-2010)
- NOVA scienceNOW (a spinoff of this program airing from 2005–present)
- Equinox - Channel 4 popular science series, last aired in 2001.
- Horizon (BBC TV series) comparable BBC2 strand, on air since 1964.
- Q.E.D. (BBC TV series) more populist BBC1 science documentary series, which ran from 1982 to 1999.
- ^ "About Nova". PBS. Archived from the original on 2006-02-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20060203033508/http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/about/.
- ^ a b c d "Broadcast Awards Listed by Date". PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/about/tvaw.html. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- ^ "Web Site Awards Listed by Date". PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/about/weba.html. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- ^ "Ambrosino and Nova: making stories that go 'bang'". http://www.current.org/doc/doc808nova.html. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- ^ "NOVA: From the Beginning (1970s)". Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20071005120646/http://www.wgbhalumni.org/essays/1970s-nova.html. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
PBS Television Documentaries Drama Music & Fine Arts History News and Public Affairs How-To and Special Interest Science and Nature Networks See alsoPBS Kids shows · PBS network shows · PBS member networks · PBS member stations(list) · Public Broadcasting in the USA · State network 1Defunct network, continues as a programming block · 2Defunct network
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