TV, DVD, podcast

The TV show you have to watch

One of the handy little tricks on the Foxtel TV guide is that you can search through it for certain words.

At least once a week, I pick up the remote, go to the search function and type in the word ‘‘beer’’. Most of the time it doesn’t pay any dividends at all but last week was a different story. The search threw up the first episode in the three-part series How Booze Built America, hosted by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame.

It’s too late to see a repeat of the first episode (unless you’re smart enough to be able to use ‘‘the torrents’’ on the internet. Yes, I am very old) but you can definitely catch episode two on Discovery Channel, tomorrow night at 8.30pm.
To whet your appetite, here’s a clip from the first episode.

There’s so much to like about this show. Firstly, it’s full of fascinating facts – like the American revolution was kicked off over rum. See, early Americans loved their rum – they made loads of it. So the Brits decided to tax the bejesus out of the ingredients, including molasses. That got the locals angry and, as they tended to hang around taverns a lot, certain troublemakers like Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson went around turning them against the Brits.

The Americans loved their rum so much that, even though it was the source of much of their angst, they chose to make a stance by chucking tea in the harbour instead (the Boston Tea Party). They simply couldn’t bear the idea of throwing rum away.

Another great thing about the show is the mix of seriousness and irreverence – something host Rowe is very good at. There is a load of historical information here but it’s handled in a light, enjoyable way. I especially like the way the series pokes fun at itself, such as when Rowe is standing in a smoky bar but calms any authorities watching by stating no-one is actually smoking in the bar. He then points to the guy on the floor with the smoke machine. It’s little things like that which make this show very enjoyable.

How Booze Built America is definitely worth watching – because it’s both fun and you might also learn a thing or two.

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