Bad Universe Episode 3 airs Tuesday April 19

By Phil Plait | April 18, 2011 7:00 am

Well, it’s been a while coming, but I’m pleased to let y’all know that the third and final episode of "Bad Universe" will air on The Discovery Channel tomorrow, April 19, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern (US) time — but of course, check your local listings.

The episode is entitled "Death Stars", and is about the effects of solar flares and nearby supernovae. Like the other two, this was a lot of fun to put together, though the trip to Sandia Lab still haunts me a bit… but I won’t give that away. You’ll just have to see. I actually haven’t seen the final cut since we put it together late last year, so to be honest when I watch it tomorrow it’ll be a bit like seeing it again for the first time.

Speaking of which, my daughter will be in school when it airs, so I won’t watch it until we can see it as a family. That means I won’t be live-tweeting or anything like that.

And to answer the inevitable question: I don’t know if the network is picking it up as a series or not. I expect the ratings of the airing tomorrow may play into that, so tell a friend! Or tell a few dozen.

I hope you like it, and have at least as much fun watching it as I did making it.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Bad Universe, TV/Movies

Comments (53)

  1. 11 AM? What kind of cracked up time is that? I’ll be at work!

    I feel cheated. I hope there’s a second broadcast or some other means to watch the episode. Discovery, I am disappoint.

  2. Mike

    @Davis Murphy –

    You never heard of DVR? Record it! If you don’t have a DVR, have a buddy record it.

    Hope you’re successful.


  3. DVR set to ennovanate! And I will tell everyone!

    BTW, how many times do you say “Holy Haleakala”? ūüėõ

  4. Chris

    I have to teach Earth Science to 8th grade students… The videos that I have used in the past don’t even come close to Bad Universe. I can’t wait to get my pre-order copy! The asteroid impact and Death Stars are exactly what we talk about in class and you not only make the visuals cool (comic book style), but talk like a normal human, which is difficult with science videos! Thank you so much! I have been teaching from Death from the Skies for the last three years, since our textbook is out of date! You are a life saver! Thank you again! I check the blog at least once a day to find any cool astronomy vids and then share them with the kids.

    Using you to keep my head above water,

  5. Aerimus

    Figures, the final episode would air AFTER I cancel my satellite subscription…

  6. Gonçalo Aguiar

    “third and final episode of “Bad Universe””

    3rd and final?? Your book has 9 chapters but your series only will have 3 episodes?? Bummer….

  7. I was wondering when the third episode would air! I won’t be able to watch, since I’ll be at work, but hopefully they’ll repeat at a more reasonable time. I’ll definitely let people know about it, though.

  8. Thomas Siefert

    DVR? What’s wrong with good old VHS.?
    Let’s see. There is only 20 minutes left on tape 56, but if I record it in Long Play I could get 40 minutes. I would have to watch it while I record it to edit out the adds…
    Hmm. What about tape 42 there should be 31 minutes left on that, again I would have to use Long Play.
    If I really like the show and want to watch it over and over, it should really be recorded in Standard Play for the better picture quality.
    That leaves only tape 78. There is about 69 minutes left on that, there will probably be some wasted minutes but I can always fit a Wile E Coyote short into that…

    Aaaaaarggh!!! Who recorded something on tape 79 without updating the logbook?

  9. Rich W
  10. Jackie

    11 AM, really? No DVR here. Please let us know if they decide to rerun at a better time. My kids will be so disappointed. Just the other day, my daughter asked when the next episode will be. :-(

  11. Scott Romanowski

    I’ll set my DVR tonight. :)

  12. Grand Lunar

    Dang it, I’ll be at work! And I have no DVR, or Tivo, or anything like that (did at my previous house in FL).

    Discovery Channel ought to air it at a time when more people are home to see it.
    That can boost ratings for it.
    They also ought to air it more frequently.
    If it is picked up as a series, I want it to replace “A Haunting”; that show is a degradation to them.
    Even better would be for Science Channel to show it. Something else to add to the mix.

  13. Jay Fox

    Why are these shows showing only “once and done?” And at such odd times. I missed the first one, and it has never been rebroadcast-ed. Caught the second one on the DVR at it’s odd airing time. Excellent show. I’ll snag this one the same way, but I’m still waiting for a re-showing of the first show.

    Meanwhile, reality shows with no plot or interesting subject matter keep getting shown over and over. I can see why the above poster canceled his satellite subscription. He’s seen it all already. Over 200 channels and nothing new or interesting. And the good stuff, what little there is, is shown only once, at a time when no one is watching.

    The ratings for this showing will be poor due to the time of airing. No one will see it during the broadcast time slot. Those who do see it, will do so on their DVR, and fast forward every commercial. So a lot of viewers will have no idea who the sponsors are. Talk about no bang for your buck.

  14. Tom

    Spread the word people, it’s a reality show that’s got hot young stars and lots of flare-ups and explosions!


  15. OtherRob

    Looking forward to seeing it. Though, like a lot of the other commenters, I’ll have to DVR it.

    Speaking of upcoming shows, I’m kinda surprised that Phil hasn’t mentioned another little show that’s premiering this week…

    And, Thomas Siefert #8: You may be joking, but that’s exactly how my wife and I videotaped the final season of Angel. Only without as much organization. We didn’t get our first DVR ’til a few months later.


    Hey, you guys! You can get all three episodes of Bad Universe on DVD* at from May 31, 2011.

    *(Unfortunately, it’s only available in the inferior NTSC format; it would be much better on the superior PAL system!) ūüėČ

  17. Cancelled my cable two weeks ago.

  18. Dark Jaguar

    Worse part is Discovery is a cesspool of reality shows lately, so I tend to watch the Science channel where this show apparently isn’t, only now the Science channel is showing reality shows, and, oddly, Firefly. I’m sure that’s a great series, but it isn’t science, it’s science fiction, and belongs on the sci-fi channel. Oh wait, that’s the SyFy channel and it’s all about pro wrestling, ghost hunting, and “CGsploitation” movies now…

    Yeah I don’t have a DVR either…

    Sorry Phil, but it looks like poor scheduling and no repeats is really hurting you right now, and from everything I’ve heard, that really shouldn’t be the case. I really want to catch an episode of this somehow.

    Being realistic, I don’t know anyone that’s a Nielson family. Even if I did watch it, I wouldn’t contribute to your ratings one way or the other. The entire Nielson rating system is broken.

  19. The Beer

    @13 Jay Fox…. Dang, I missed the first 2 and was wondering if they would rebroadcast them at the same time.. I guess Not! That’s annoying since they do rebroadcast almost everything else.

  20. S

    I’m looking forward to the episode, but I don’t think it’ll get a series, unfortunately. The network wouldn’t put any show at that time if it wanted it to succeed. The time between episodes was also far to long.

  21. You know, if I were a TV exec wanting to test the waters with a new show, I’d actually, you know, show it when people can watch it… and show all three shows in a row, like once a week or maybe over three nights… so people could actually see it. But then I’m just someone who actually works for a living, not an executive, so clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Phil – the DVR is set to record, and I will watch it that way in the hopes that somehow someone is tracking that data. But honestly, network and cable TV are dinosaurs these days, and the execs can’t see the asteroid that’s bearing down on them.

    I can’t wait until it’s all internet based and appointment-based entertainment is just a memory. Hulu, Netflix streaming, and their descendants are the future.

    Oh, and the DVDs are pre-ordered. I always buy things I think are worth keeping.

  22. Ryan

    Hmm, I’ll be at work when this airs. At an electronics store. I think I’ll put it on the 70″ tv we got hooked up to the satellite.

  23. @IVAN3MAN

    You were a Betamax fan, weren’t you?

  24. Margaret

    I’m glad I double-checked my DVR. I have it set to record new episodes and it was planning to skip “Death Stars” because it wasn’t labeled “New.” But I’m looking forward to it!


    @Todd W.,

    Actually, during the 1980s, I was a fan of the Video 2000 system, which was superior to both the Betamax and the VHS formats.

  26. Trebuchet

    I’m surprised no one else seems to have mentioned this — now we get to see the (in)famous tatoo!

    Phil, I’m sorry to say this but there’s about as much chance of the series being picked up as of homeopathy being proven to work. That’s why there showing it at that bizarre time. You’ve got no ghosts, UFO’s, Bermuda Triangle, idiots yelling at each other, or any of the other stuff they want to show. The only things worth watching on Discovery are Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs, and even they are only so-so any more.

  27. Nemo

    Phil, don’t kid yourself — they wouldn’t be debuting it at 11 am on a Tuesday, months after episode 2, if they had any thought of picking up the show.

    Curiously, my TiVo claims that this episode first aired on December 6th.

  28. Emily

    Is there someone we could get people to email in support of the show?


    Dr. Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System and the recent Wonders of the Universe were/are shown during prime-time on BBC TV; therefore, Phil, next time ask the BBC to do your TV show!

  30. Kitty

    Echoing others Phil, you’re not getting any support from Discovery. This reminds me of how FOX handled Arrested Development in its second and third seasons: no advertising, frequent, unpredictable breaks between air dates, jumping it around on the schedule, preempting for other shows of no quality…

    What you need is viral momentum. You are probably doing the best one person can manage but you need your peeps to promote the heck out of it across social media. Some good clips “accidently” loaded to Youtube or somewhere until they get yanked doesn’t hurt either. As long as someone else is doing it!

    But cable TV is dead, it just doesn’t know it’s a zombie yet.
    Most BBC science shows are awesome, why can’t we get shows of that quality made in the USA?
    Other than the zombie-TV reason, I mean?

  31. Hopefully somehow it works out, I really enjoyed the first two episodes. It would be great to actually see more science on the Discovery Channel! My fear is the the channel is slowly going to become like TLC is now, with little science content and little to set it apart from the 100 other channels doing mostly reality programming anymore. And not to mention that monstrosity of a show “49 Kids and Counting”, or whatever the number is now!

  32. Viking

    Used my smart phone to set my DVR to record it. Gotta love technology.

    For some reason it wasn’t showing up as “New” for me either.

  33. Matt B.

    Whew, I still have the Discovery channel. I got Extremely Basic Cable when I moved into my apartment, and it’s TLC I’m missing.

    They should put you on after Firefly; then you could call your show Bad ‘Verse.

  34. M.K. Oestby

    I’m looking forward to the third episode. I also hope to see more of this show, it is good.
    The fact that the show is quite good is the problem here. It needs to be crap if it is going to have staying power, with few exceptions this certainly seems to be the case nowadays.

  35. Liisa

    Awesome, hope it’s on in Canada soon as well :)

  36. I haven’t caught the first two episodes, and wont be able to catch tomorrow’s episode due to work. Hopefully it airs again sometime soon.

  37. Childermass

    They waited this long to air the 3th episode and then will air it during business hours?

    Sadly I will be shocked if they pick up more episodes. When they are airing it is a fairly clear answer. There is no way it can get good ratings at the time slot it was given. And that lack of ratings will be used against it. I suspect a case of “well, we paid for it so we might as well air it but lets wait until a bad time slot opens up.

  38. Jeff

    I hope this is just the last one for this season!

    I’ll have the recorder running. I hope Discovery makes a commercial version that I can show my classes.

    Keep up the good work.


  39. RAF

    I have to agree with those who question “if” it’s going to be picked up as a series…I looked through my TV listings and this is “apparently” the only time it will be aired, so if anyone was expecting a series, this is certainly not the way Discovery would “handle” it.

  40. runawayuniverse

    Just watched and enjoyed the episode. Hopefully there will be more.

  41. SteveInMI

    Curses! I saw the 4/19 date but missed that it was a morning airing… so no DVR. :(

    Here’s hoping for reruns soon!!!

  42. Sledge

    Bad Universe episode 3 drinking game

    “Holy Haleakala”: one shot

    That’s all. You’ll easily be wasted by the end of the show :) So set your DVR to record it so you can watch it when you sober up.

  43. Number 6

    Too bad for me that I read this too late to catch the show….I was looking forward to it.

    Put me down big time with the others who’d like your shows to be repeated. I don’t see why the Discover Channel can’t.

    Here’s today’s schedule after Phil’s show:

    All shows are one hour in length except for Cash Cab (30 min.).

    12PM….Deadliest Catch
    American Chopper
    American Chopper
    American Chopper
    American Chopper
    Man, Woman, Wild
    Cash Cab
    Cash Cab
    Deadliest Catch
    Deadliest Catch
    Deadliest Catch
    Hogs Gone Wild
    11PM…Deadliest Catch

    Now, couldn’t they sneak a rerun of Phil’s show in there next week or next month when most of the shows are similar to the above and those shows are repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated….?

  44. Andy

    11am!?? Looks like I missed it. :-(

  45. Bobbar

    Blast! I thought it said 11:00 *PM*! Missed it :(

  46. Ze Kraggash

    My DVR was set to record all new episodes. This worked previously for the first two, but not for number three. I guess, as others have mentioned, the Schedule Gods did not list this episode as “new”.

  47. Wayne on the Plains

    My DVR got it, which was actually the first I knew about it airing, since I was out of town over the weekend and am just now catching up on the BA Blog.

    I agree that it seems like a pretty pointless way to “gauge interest” since they were so spaced out and at odd times, you need to already be a fan of Dr. Plait to keep up, and everyone should expect that regular readers of this blog would watch.

  48. DVR issues. Not listed as “New” so the DVR skipped it. You know, I think I’m just going to get rid of the thing, and the cable box. Aside from shows like Phil’s there’s nothing I want from appointment based television.

    Oh well, it looks like I’ll just have to wait for the DVD to arrive.

  49. Gonçalo Aguiar

    Just watched it and all I have to say is:

    Phill, you’re an awesome astronomer but not so good at electrical engineering. Right now we do protect our electrical grid from atmospheric lightning. We have shielding wires in all power lines. Most of the high power transformers are built within faraday cages and the capacitor idea is just plain silly. The amount of capacitance you would need to harness those amounts of energy is immense! You just have to somehow dissipate that direct current into the ground, which is what basically that guy dressed in chain mail was doing.

    And btw I counted 2 Holyaleakalas.

  50. Julesmaine

    While I am all for science related programming, why are all American based shows aimed at four year olds?

    I hate to say this but your show came across as something you would teach to a kindergarten child

    Can you tell us why it is so dumbed down? Is the target audience children or just simpletons with no knowledge of Astronomy?

    Even if it is for people with no knowledge of the universe or for armchair astronomers, I think it is a disservice to treat people as idiots, I am all for making science fun but to make it so dumbed down misses the point completely of teaching people.

    The blog sometimes can feel like that, however it is often educational. The root cause of todays lack of respect for scientists is not because of peoples enthusiasm for new media and scientists lagging behind, it is because science has been turned in to a circus with the clowns running things and i blame Discovery and their ilk for this.

    DONT DUMB DOWN. Enrich people dont try to enable them.

  51. Fabio Sadoch

    It’s the first time I ever write on a blog, (mostly because i hate writing, I’m more of a numbers guy…. and am shy on my own) but i just wanted to tell you guys even though you won’t see me write here much, I support you guys.
    Sorry for Mr Plait’s show… I can’t even believe they waited this long to air the 3rd episode(more than 6 months?!?!?! are we $@&&√ß@¬ß kidding?!?!?! Who’s even gonna remember what the show’s about?!?!?…….oh well), I thought I simply could not find a link on the internet. But I found out today that it’s simply because it’s so recent….(Yes, i’m sorry but i haven’t watched tv in general for the past 4-5 years, I prefer to mingle on documentary site’s like “” and “”, or to watch the occasional episode of “Mythbusters” or “Bear Grylls” on Youtube. I’ve lived in Italy almost all my life and tv here was…..well……just THAT bad).
    And all this said I must admit that the idea of proposing your show to the BBC is actually fairly reasonable. The British station is constantly churning out documentaries, but are missing some “fun/youth inclined” content. I wouldn’t be surprised if, with a bit of “American to British” slang translation, they actually picked it up as a series.
    I sincerely mean what I have said, and kindly ask you to consider the option.
    My recomendation to all that follow this blog is…..if you have the internet, why still use tv? Why listen to mainstream media? Just watch things for free on the internet and support the shows that actually need supporting by buying their DVDs, or giving donations.

    Keep up all the good logical reasoning and discussions guys….
    Fabio Sadoch

  52. Ken

    Just thought I would let you know. Episode 3, Death Stars is finally airing in Canada. Tonight (June 19th) at 9pm


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