Nova (TV series)
The current Nova logo since 2005
|Created by||Michael Ambrosino|
|Developed by||Michael Ambrosino|
|Opening theme||Walter Werzowa,
Ray Loring (additional)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||41|
|No. of episodes||698 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paula Apsell|
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Original run||March 3, 1974 – present|
Nova is a United States popular science television series produced by WGBH Boston. It is broadcast on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the U.S., and in more than 100 other countries.1 The series has won many major television awards.2
Nova often includes interviews with scientists doing research in the subject areas covered and occasionally includes footage of a particular discovery. Some episodes have focused on the history of science. Examples of topics covered include the following: 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 have been praised for their good pacing, clear writing, and crisp editing. Websites accompany the segments and have also won awards.3
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.4 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), Los Angeles or New York.5 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:2
- "The Miracle of Life" (1983) was cited as a "fascinating and informative documentary of the human reproductive process," which used "revolutionary microphotographic techniques." This 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 lauded 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 for editing.6
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:2
- 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 the 2004 Emmys:
- "Mars Dead or Alive"
- "The Crash of Flight 111"
- "The Most Dangerous Woman in America"
Series funding was also provided by the following:
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1974–77, 1991–present)
- National Science Foundation (1974-1982)
- Polaroid (1974-1977)
- Exxon (1978–1981)
- TRW (1978-1980)
- The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (1982-1985)
- Johnson & Johnson (1981–1994)
- AlliedSignal (1985–1988)
- Prime Computer (1988–1989)
- Lockheed Corporation (1989–1995)
- Raytheon (1995–1996)
- Merck & Co. (1994–1997)
- Prudential (1996–1997)
- Park Foundation (1997–2005)
- Iomega Corporation. (1998-1999)
- Northwestern Mutual Financial Network (1998-2002)
- CNET (1999–2000)
- Sprint Corporation (2000-2005)
- Microsoft (2003–2005)
- Google (2005–2006)
- BP (2006)
- Dow Chemical Company (2007)
- ExxonMobil (2008-2010)
- Pacific Life (2009-2010)
- Merrill Lynch (2009-2010)
Non-series underwriting supporters:
- National Science Foundation
- The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
- Dave Johnson Foundation
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Morgan Stanley
- the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
- Volkswagen of America
- George D. Smith
- U.S. Department of Energy
- Marguerite and Jerry Lenfest
- John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- Richard Goldman
- Goldman Environmental Prize
- William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- National Library of Medicine
- Kavli Foundation
- The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
- American Chemical Society
- Solow Art & Architecture Foundation
- the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
- Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
- Invitrogen Educational Foundation
- Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
- Teach Green Charitable Foundation
- Nurture Nature Foundation
- 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.
- "Broadcast Awards Listed by Date". PBS. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- "Web Site Awards Listed by Date". PBS. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- "Ambrosino and Nova: making stories that go 'bang'". Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- "NOVA: From the Beginning (1970s)". Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- "National Television Academy Presents 25th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards". National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 2004-09-13. p. 13. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- Nova's Official Website
- NOVA Labs
- Nova at the Internet Movie Database
- Nova at TV.com
- Nova show on YouTube