Saturday, September 7, 2013
The Water Brothers: Making TVOntario Relevant
With its most popular series ever Saturday Night At The Movies cancelled after more than three decades on air TVOntario must rebuild its bridges to the vast TV audience out there.
A great starting point is the low budgeted series The Water Brothers which is just about the most relevant show on TV this year.
The second season revs up Tuesday September 10 at 7:30 p.m.
The half hour documentary is hosted, written and co-produced by Tyler and Alex Mifflin and for all I know they probably also did the catering.
The subject could not be more timely. And I was thinking all about this up at a friend's cottage where she showed me the shore line which continues to recede year after year.
Without water we're nothing.
First up this second season is a marvelous look at the sacred Indian river The Ganges.
Look, we've all seen images of the multitudes bathing in the river and the funereal pyres floating majestically in the flowing waters.
A billion Hindu people revere this river but the facts are somewhat jarring --here is one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
As it winds through the subcontinent the Ganges and tributaries provide water for 14 per cent of the earth's population.
The tributaries upstream also provide the much needed water for irrigation projects and that's one of the big problems.
Downstream the mighty river is a flow of sludge and toxins, a bubbling cauldron that contributes to high gastrointestinal cancers. The Mifflins get everything right almost all the time. The images are powerfully and horrifying. And the Indian experts consulted on camera agree it is very sad indeed.
Tyler and Alex venture upstream to show the huge tanneries where chemicals like formaldehyde are dumped into the flowing water.
A total of 15 million litres of waste gets dumped every day but only six million is ever treated.
So far governments have shut down 100 polluting tanneries but the shots of the river show decaying bodies floating past the camera. The water seems completely black.
The film makers also visit a religious bathing festival and finds many participants simply do not believe the river is at all polluted. How could it be when it is so holy?
They even take a dip themselves and find the water "surprisingly very refreshing". At about this moment I stopped eating my lunch.
Tests of the water show it contains far more bacteria than should be permitted. The river of death is also itself dying.
The filmmakers may be very young but they're completely accomplished. They know how to hold a TV audience deftly using stunning images to tell their story.
This is the kind of series TV Ontario desperately needs and who cares about the minuscule budget.if the results are so accomplished?
This is TV for the mind and soul. The Toronto production company is SK Films Inc.
Other programs look at "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch" and there's a visit to a salmon farm in B.C.
THE SECOND SEASON OF THE WATER BROTHERS PREMIERES ON TVONTARIO TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 10 AT 7:30 P.M.
MY RATING: ****.