Documentary tips & hot air balloons

Dear PBS producers,

My wife and I were watching an enlightening program you produced, a program on the series NOVA, which, unfortunately, has nothing at all to do with Chevy.

This particular program featured the history and science behind the hot air balloon and the gas balloon. However, there was a lack of pizzazz in the program, especially since of all the gas used in its production, none of it exploded. I suggest you hire Michael Bay as a creative consultant.

Instead of trying to attract people with orange, fiery balls of death, you tried to attract people by dropping Ben Franklin’s name over and over. It was even called “Ben Franklin’s Balloons.”

But I’m not sure that Ben Franklin would have been pleased. For example, consider these two facts you pointed out:

  1. Ben Franklin did not have anything to do with the invention of the hot air balloon.
  2. The only connection Ben Franklin had with the hot air balloon was that hot air balloons and Ben Franklin were both in France at the same time.

So I’m sure Ben Franklin would be confused about why you kept referring to him, and why his picture kept popping up. He would even wonder why you didn’t get a real picture of him instead of scanning the $100 bill. It just might be that the $100 bill was the most expensive part of making this documentary, but I’m not sure Ben would understand. He’s sensitive that way.

The second way you tried to attract people was by saying you would build and fly an exact replica, using only 18th century tools, of the first hot air balloon. This was an exciting proposition. Unfortunately, halfway through the documentary, you realized that the building of the first hot air balloon took crazy amounts of time and money, even back in the 1700s, none of which you had. And also you had no idea how they built the first hot air balloon. This was a little disappointing.

You also realized the level of danger in flying the first hot air balloon made flying to the moon look like a walk on the beach. You realized these guys were absolutely crazy, no matter how many sheep and geese and chickens they sent up beforehand.

So instead of an exact replica, you had a modern balloon that looked kinda, sorta like the first one, but without open, straw-fed flames or sponges on sticks to put out fires. And even then, the French government wouldn’t let you fly it. All the excitement of the program disappeared, like, well, air out of a balloon.

No, if you had filmed in America, instead of France, the government would not have intervened. This is how addicted we are to crazy stunts on TV. The FAA highly regulates hot air balloons, but even government agencies like publicity in America, so I’m sure they would be on hand to wipe up your guts had anything gone awry.

And it might have been a good idea to show what happened to the two guys who got lost in a balloon and ended up in Belgium. That one line was way more interesting than the rest of the show.

To recap: next time make it in America. With explosions. And if someone gets lost, follow them.

Thank you very much.

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1 comment for “Documentary tips & hot air balloons

  1. Willis Williams
    July 5, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    You spent several hundred words trashing out and nitpicking a PBS
    NOVA documentary. Good waste of time and frankly who cares? It’s just like our local yokel newspaper is Scottsboro, Alabama spending half of a page describing an improved nuclear reactor that will replace the outdated, never fired, unit at the Tennessee Valley Authority Bellefonte unit. Who cares?

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