With Netflix, and other services, TV series have never been so widely available, and the temptation to binge watch a whole season of Breaking Bad in one night can be overwhelming. May contain spoilers.
Professor Brian Cox, formerly of the band D;Ream, who had a number 1 hit single with Things Can Only Get Better, has been described as the natural successor to the BBC's scientific programming by David Attenborough, has been involved with television since 2005, most recently with his a few series such as Wonders of The Solar System, Wonders of The Universe and Wonders of Life. Unsurprisingly, given that he is a professor in Physics, these are documentaries about, well, Physics.
These programmes don't assume much prior knowledge, meaning that they are accessible to almost everybody, although some of the concepts explained are quite complex, as well as having lots and lots of very big numbers, but they come with the territory. A wide range of topics is covered well by someone who clearly both enjoys and thoroughly understands what they're talking about.
Once you get around the seemingly endless artistic time lapses, dramatic shots and Cox gazing at the stars, which become slightly tired after a while, you can appreciate the beauty of both the Physics being explained and the striking consequences it has, at the tiniest scales and at the grandest of scales, as minute forces create phenomena that have mystified and amazed humanity for millennia.
Cox himself is brilliant, as always, conveying confusing concepts with his typical style of easy going, smiling manner that allows the viewer to understand the consequences of some areas of Physics, but more importantly, where they come from and how they were developed, improved and refined over the years. It feels less like a documentary, more like being told a story, one that unfolds and unfolds until it is all encompassing.
However, with his newest series, Human Universe, it feels as if the BBC have coerced Cox into another series, which covers much of the ground already discussed in his previous programmes. That is not to say that it is a bad series, not at all, and, at the time of writing, it is still a new series, with only a small number of episodes aired. The camera work, is once again sublime.
An accompanying series of books is also available and these are exceptional. they take in all the Physics of the shows, with a bit extra information and explanation, that really makes the concepts come alive, and I would certainly recommend them to anyone with an interest in Physics.
As a whole, the Wonders of... series is a high quality Physics show, that feels as if its purpose is to entertain, rather than to explain. It provides well thought out explanations and demonstrations that make complex ideas spring to life for people with all levels of prior knowledge, giving it a 7 out of 10 rating.