"How the Universe Works" Season 2 premier tonight!

By Phil Plait | July 11, 2012 12:00 pm

I’m very pleased to let y’all know that the second season of The Science Channel’s show "How the Universe Works" premiers tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. Check your local listings, etc. etc.

I’m pleased about this because I’ll be in all eight episodes! I did some talking head stuff for the first season, and the producers contacted me last year and kindly asked if I’d do more. I agreed, and we had a lot of fun filming them. I traveled to a lot of fun places like Big Bear and San Diego, California. We also went to Yuma, Arizona where it hit — no kidding — 55° C (130° F), and I thought a couple of our crew members were going to die. The most fun was probably filming in Estes Park, Colorado, an hour from my house. We were at 12,000 feet, which is righteously high up. In fact, we were above 1/3 of the atmosphere there, and lugging the equipment to the top of the pass was… interesting. But talk about a dramatic background!

The first episode, "Volcanoes", is airing tonight and should be fun. If you want a glimpse into the show, here’s an episode about black holes from the first season that features a familiar face…

You may need to refresh this page to see the video. And the next few videos have more of the black holes show too.

I hope you’ll tune in tonight and give it a look. Let me know what you thought!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science, TV/Movies

Comments (68)

  1. Infinite123Lifer
  2. Trebuchet

    A familiar voice, too. Mike Rowe is the best narrator in television.

  3. Lee from NC

    One of my favorite shows so I’m looking forward to new episodes. :)

  4. Jeff Schwarz

    I just set it to DVR. Looking forward to it.

  5. Jim Johnson

    Don’t get Science Channel, so I’ve been catching up to season 1 via Netflix. I must not be burned out on it yet – I still say, “Hey, there’s Phil Plait!” whenever you pop up in an episode.

  6. Keith Bowden

    “Premiere”, not premier. “Premier” means best. [sorry, pet peeve] =}

  7. Mike

    Keith,

    Come on now…it’s both. :)

  8. Buxley

    Hmm. Just saw the trailer above for the episode “Death of the Universe” and it was talking about how scientists don’t know if the universe will end with a big crunch or expand forever. I thought that question got answered a decade ago with the discovery of dark energy causing the universe to not only expand, but to expand at a faster and faster rate.

    Now I’m confused….

    -Bux

  9. Rachel

    I am so excited! This has been one of my favorite documentary series since it first premiered. I can’t wait to see the new shows!

  10. Martin

    Never been a fan of these kind of shows. Very “americanized” in the sense that they keep repeating the same stuff over and over again after each ad break. Most of these programs could be compressed to ten minutes of information. Why don’t treat the viewers as intelligent beings? Most of us aren’t in the first grade anymore.

  11. steamer

    No Mike Rowe on this one. Bummer.

  12. Tricia

    Love the show, but disappointed that Mike Rowe is not narrating!

  13. Joey

    Not impressed with the new narrator. Great show, but there must have been someone with a better voice to narrate.

  14. Martin (10): You’re entitled to your opinion. But I’m curious: have you seen this show? Have you seen this particular episode of this show? Because otherwise I’m not exactly sure why you wanted to leave that comment here when I’m clearly excited and happy about this.

  15. Rachel

    I agree about missing Mike Rowe. The show was great, but the narrator wasn’t as engaging as Mr. Rowe. Overall though it was just as interesting and enjoyable as the previous shows. I’m looking forward to the rest!

  16. Grand Lunar

    As good as it is to see a second season, it’s even better to know that you’re in it for all the season, Phil!
    We need more of you in the media, given all the nonsense that is out there.

    In the video that shows VY Canis Majoris, they show it as blue.
    Shouldn’t it be red, since it’s a red hypergiant?

  17. B

    Can’t believe it’s not narrated by Mr. Rowe… Very dissatisfied. Will not be watching the remainder of the series

  18. KREinstein

    Grand Lunar, which episode are you referring to? The Extreme Stars episode shows VY Canis Majoris as red.

  19. RAF

    I just now “discovered” this…the show is half way over…DOH!

  20. Bryon Thompson

    Glad to see these are back. I about wore out the section of my DVR where the first season is stored. I like to think I know about as much about what is out there as I can without a proper education, but these still don’t seem to get old.

  21. Minos

    Good thing there’s a repeat in the wee hours of Friday morning. I didn’t catch this in my feed reader until partway through the west coast showing today.

  22. Trebuchet

    Just watched the episode. Considering my low expectations for anything from Discovery Communications (mermaids, anyone?) I was pretty pleased. Except for the lack of Mike Rowe, of course. How did I miss the first season?

  23. kat wagner

    Mr. BA, so good to see you on the tv machine! I love this show, set it to record on the DVR and get myself all sciency so I can talk to my daughter about sky stuff. I also miss Mike Rowe and hope he’ll be back for the other episodes. And I liked the mermaid show on Discovery – I’m such a sap I believed it for a good while.

  24. Martin

    Phil: Sorry if I came on as rude, that wasn’t my intention, and I love your work. It’s just the pace of these shows that sets me off. And yes, I’ve seen the shows as in season one. I’ll give it another go.

  25. Harry

    The Science Channel still does shows about science? That is news to me. Maybe I’ll try to catch this one.

  26. JMW

    We also went to Yuma, Arizona where it hit — no kidding — 55° C (130° F)

    I’m reminded of a t-shirt I heard about, on sale in Phoenix:

    cartoon drawing of desert, consisting of a flat line for the horizon, with a saguaro cactus, a few rocks, and the bleached skull of a cow.

    The caption reads, “…but it’s a dry heat”

  27. Sandy

    I miss Mike as the narrator, but still enjoyed the show. Glad it is back!

  28. Jeff Schwarz

    I saw it last night. I’m not so hot on the narrator. Whenever it was just the narrator the pace seemed to slow.

    I loved seeing you on it, Phil. Your enthusiasm is simply infectious.

  29. Lars Bruchmann

    I totally understand what Martin (10 and 24) means about shows repeating themselves. Had not noticed it on Sci or Disc Channel shows though. More on “reality” shows where they saying: coming up.. then show what happens after the break. Right after the break they recap what happens before the commercial break. Infuriates me! Yes the 44 min show could be 20 min! I LOVE ‘How the Universe Works’ though and was wondering if Phil was standing close to home in the Rockies.

  30. Jess Tauber

    Saw the show last night- wonderful animations! Phil was the most lifelike by far! Great improvement over Max Headroom.

  31. TJ

    I agree with B, the new narrator is absolutely terrible. I would have been happier with Sir David Attenborough. You totally get the sense he is just reading a script and that he’s not part of the show like Mike Rowe was. Or better yet, here is a good comparison: Even when I listen to Stephen Hawking’s computer voice I feel more engaged in what it’s saying than I do this new narrator. And even with Hawking’s computer voice you just know he knows what he’s talking about, and I don’t get that with this new narrator.

    Mike Rowe was an awesome narrator and I tried emailing him on his website to ask why he didn’t do this new season, so if I get a response I’ll post it back on here. If you agree and want Mike Rowe back please go to Science Channel’s Viewer Relations website below and submit a request to get him back. I just selected “Corporate Information” and then “Audio/Technical Question”. Come on, let’s get Mike Rowe back!

    http://corporate.discovery.com/contact/viewer-relations/

  32. ChumbleSpuzz

    130° F? Further evidence to my theory that the sun is trying to kill us.

  33. Jay29

    I just watched the show and enjoyed the Plait-i-ness. Ever since reading Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: The Year We Made Contact, I can’t get enough of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. So interesting in so many different ways!

    But I do have to echo everyone else’s sentiments that the narrator was not very enjoyable to listen to.

  34. Josh

    I miss Mike Rowe but I like everything else about it.

  35. Kenny

    Love the series, but the new narrator is pretty terrible. I wanted to mute it every time he started to talk. Hes like that depressing person you get stuck near at a party.

  36. Lunalover2381

    I was so looking forward to this had to DVR it…. Finally got time to watch and no Mike Rowe! So upset!

  37. I can’t watch the video yet, but I’d be happy to do the narration for the next season. I know enough about science to sound engaged in the content, and I actually look up new words in the dictionary so that I don’t mispronounce them when thousands of people are listening. I also place emphasis correctly.

    Ten seconds after saving my comment I heard an ad on the radio with Mike Rowe doing the voiceover. :)

  38. Jeff S,

    I am also extremely happy with the return of this show. I have watched the 1st season on Netflix and consider it one of my “comfort” shows. However, I agree with many earlier posters that I miss Mike Rowe’s narrating of the show. The new narrator just doesn’t pull me into the narrative like Mike did. The new narrator’s announciation just drives me nuts….Still, love the show and the visuals. Always a great ride. Maybe if Mike Rowe isn’t available for futuer narrative work, Phil or Michio Kaku would be available. LOL

  39. Steve

    What happened to Mike? I am very disappointed to hear he is not narrating season two.

  40. Chris S

    i was so stoked to hear a new season was airing but just as disappointed when i realized mike rowe wasnt narrating anymore!!!! WE WANT MIKE ROWE WE WANT MIKE ROWE

  41. milton

    I agree with most people that the narrrator is terrible. I loved Mike Rowe. Perhaps someone else might be suitable. The narrator is soooo important. When listening to books on tape it the narrator is bad then so is the program. Teachers in schools must narrate properly or kids will not pay attention or learn.

  42. Dave

    This new narrator is just awful. He sounds like he’s got a cold and a pompous attitude. They must have found him in the narrator bargain bin.

  43. James

    Who is the new narrator? He sounds like Joe Morton from the show “Eureka”.

  44. Michael

    One of my favorite shows, and it pains me to watch it now. I love the content, the guests and most everything about it, but I can not stand this narrator! So mono-tone and boring speaking about some of the most exciting science out there! I agree the Mike Rowe is the best out there. If he can’t come back, fine, but get rid of this guy otherwise this series is going to fail.

  45. Tom

    Too funny. I thought I was the only one that couldn’t stand the new narrator. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that is what lead me here. I love some of the comments though. ;)

    I really enjoy the Dr. Phil Plait segments! Jeff above is correct: Your enthusiasm IS infectious.

    Dr. Michio Kaku is always excellent.

  46. Mcboo

    Love the show. Miss Mike Rowe.

    I’ll still watch but come on fellas, why change up? A mistake in my book but I’m still glad for season 2!

  47. Mcboo

    I just realize something, and now I can’t un-hear it, but this narrator sounds a bit like George Takei trying to impersonate Mike Rowe. :P

  48. Mike

    Mike Rowe has the perfect voice for this show. I was really looking forward to the new episodes, but this new guy is awful, with a voice that just grates.. That said, the new season has been a huge disappointment.

  49. Kyle

    An analogy to the new season would be this: You’re heading to a Rolling Stones concert back in the day. You’re psyched. The band takes the stage, but instead of Mick Jagger on vocals, you get Tiny Tim. What a letdown..

  50. Donna

    Please change the narrator. He is very hard and annoying to listen to. Otherwise, love the show.

  51. Jacob

    I think Dellums needs to put more Three Dog into it! Get into it man!

  52. CMD

    I AM SO SADDENED THAT DISCOVERY SCREWED THIS UP!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THE FIRST SEASON AND BOUGHT THE DVD’S. A TREASURE TO KEEP AND WATCH OVER AND OVER. BUT WHAT THE HECK? MIKE ROWE’S VOICE ‘MADE’ THE SERIES COMPLETE. WITHOUT HIS NARRATION, THIS SEASON FALLS APART. I CAN’T EVEN WATCH AN EPISODE, IT JUST BUGS ME THAT THIS GOT MESSED UP. IF ANYONE FROM THE PRODUCTION COMPANY READS THESE NOTES – SPEND THE MONEY AND GET MIKE ROWE TO REDO THIS SERIES. YOU CAN STILL SAVE IT, STOP BEING CHEAP ASSES AND THINK YOU CAN REDO SEASON ONE WITHOUT MIKE’S GOLDEN VOICE. IT PISSES ME OFF, I WAS SO LOOKING FORWARD TO SEASON TWO – WHAT A LET DOWN! I’M SURE MIKE WAS MORE MONEY THAN THE GUY THEY GOT TO NARRATE – BUT YOU WILL REALIZE NO ONE WATCHING NOW. PLEASE REDO THE NARRATION, GET MIKE BACK – IT’S TOO IMPORTANT OF A SERIES THAN TO LET IT GO TO WASTE. I WILL PUT MY DVD ORDER IN RIGHT NOW IF YOU PROMISE TO REDO THE SERIES BUT WITH MIKE ROWE NARRATING. WHO THE HELL MADE THE DECISION NOT TO USE HIM? FIRE THAT PERSON. GEES!

  53. Peter

    This new narrator is truly terrible.

  54. HM

    I really like the series. However, the current narrator has a distinct lisp that is so distracting that it takes the joy out of the experience. Mike Rowe is the man to hire.

  55. Martin

    This focus on the narrator I believe misses a more important difference between Seasons 1 and 2. I agree that Season 1 was the best thing in the genre since Cosmos, but now that we have several new episodes under our belts, it’s clear that there has been a profound change in tone from a serious and reverential attitude about the beauty of the workings of the universe to a sensationalistic and infotainment-oriented approach reminiscent of the garbage on the History Channel or TLC.

    While the guest scientists retain their dignity, the scripting of the narration seems better suited to a monster truck rally commercial or a show about UFOs and Bigfoot. I didn’t actually count the number of times we heard the guttural, drawn-out word “HELL!” in Episode 3, but by twenty minutes in I felt like throwing a shoe at the TV every time it came up. My wife and I made a game of predicting “HELL!”, until it became way too easy.

    The other episodes, especially “Megastorms,” seem far more obsessed with how the universe wants to make us die than with striving for the lucid and explanatory style of Season 1. Gawd how I miss Season 1. Gawd how I miss Carl Sagan!

  56. Martin

    By the way, not the same Martin as in (10) and (24)

  57. Nick

    I agree with most everyone else. This was one of my all time favorite shows, now it is almost unwatchable because of the narrator. I don’t think I’ve made it through a single episode without getting bored and annoyed at the narrator’s voice and turning it off. Maybe they can have Mike Rowe do the narration over before they release the DVD sets!

  58. Gail

    My God, who is this narrator?! He sounds like HAL, the computer from A Space Odyssey.
    “Dave……Dave….what. are. you. doing, Daaaaave?”
    Ditch this guy! He is truly awful.

  59. Rebel521

    I also hate the new narrator. His high toned lisping monotone ruins the show for me. Why did Mike Rowe not do the narrating?

  60. FarPlanetFan12

    Erik Dellums’ narration is beyond annoying. From his painfully slow over-enunciation of. every. single. word. to the pompous affectation of his inflection, his delivery is so distracting as to make the show nearly unwatchable. My wife and I were great fans of the series, but are about to give up on it — the only way we can stand to view it is with the audio off and the closed captions on.

  61. Barbara Appelbaum

    I am confused about the conclusions stemming from the discovery of so many planets too hot or too cold to harbor life. Since we are seeing planets many light-years away and are looking at them as they were a long time ago, is it possible that the too-hot ones could have cooled down to earth-like temperatures? Couldn’t there be life too far away for us to be able to look at it?

  62. Jim e

    Have to chime in with another thumbs down on the new narrator. He sounds like Mr. Rogers in slow motion. Incredibly grating and distracting.

  63. rdbrewer

    Can’t stand the narrator either.

  64. first off, love the series. to me, it’s documentary television production at its best. that said, i do have my criticism.

    just caught “planets from hell.” i despise the “if this happened to humans, it would be dreadful” tone (also noted by martin in 55). our earthly, religious judgments and attachments mean nothing to these planets and i don’t care how “hellish” they are. pointing out uninhabitability steals time from hard information, what are these planets like and how do we know (there was plenty of that, but i thirst for more). forcing science through this anthropocentric lens is the scientific equivalent of political pandering. but, then again, given the propensity of comments about the narrator rather than the content here, maybe this specious drivel is essential to retaining the audience.

    since phil asked martin 10, here are some specific points about that episode i would have changed. these are just the ones that bothered me the most. i’m sure there would be more if i took notes.

    1) include some explanation as to how pulsars form. i think this was covered in season 1, but warrants repeating. something as simple as “the inner core of a star already gone supernova” would have sufficed. “rotating due to the leftover momentum from its pre-supernova days” would have been even better.

    2) keep the possibility of very exotic forms of life open. geoff marcy, who i generally find a bit self-important, was the only one to attach “as we know it” to his comments about feasibility of life. maybe something out there thrives on the regularity of pulsar-driven radiation, maybe even something left over or descended from the pulsar’s main-sequence time deep in the rocky core.

    3) entertain alternate explanations of some things. ok, so we’ve seen starless planets. is ejection by a hot jupiter the only explanation? i don’t think astronomers have that narrow a view of the phenomenon, but i’m not an astronomer. however, it did cross my mind that perhaps not all protostars reach fusion. also, the visuals seemed to indicate all these starless worlds were in relatively close proximity to each other. are they?

    4) planets have internal heating. could this fuel some sort of tectonic or volcanic activity?

    5) it’s a bit of a strange coincidence that more than one planet mentioned always has the same side facing the star, too much of a coincidence not to discuss.

  65. just caught “comets.”

    much better all around. it’s much more fitting of the anthropocentric lens since it has direct relevance to life on earth. and, unlike planets, i don’t think we’ve observed comets outside our solar system yet so we can’t really talk about comets devoid of earthly context.

    i did have one question that seemed to go unanswered. at one point, phil says the cloud surrounding the comet can be hundreds of times larger than the solid core of the comet. how does a comet hold on to this gas cloud? it seems the gravity of a comet wouldn’t be sufficient to keep that gas in place. does the comet continuously replenish the cloud since its internal gases keep fracturing the surface? or maybe the gas has similar enough inertia that it just follows the comet?

  66. Charles

    Love the earlier episodes with Mike Rowe.
    I have them all recorded on DVR and plan to buy them in Blu-Ray.

    However, as many have mentioned, I can’t watch the new series anymore. The narration is just not fun to listen to. I’m not drawn in. I’m not enthused to pay attention with the new Narrator.

    Seriously…listen to the end narration and music to the season 1 “Supernova” episode.

    “…in the ashes of dying stars.”
    that music and Mr Rowe’s narration makes How the Universe Works, well, WORK!
    Not to mention all the scientists/astronomers providing commentary and explanations.

    I’ve tried to give the new Narrator a chance. I really have. I just can’t watch this new season. I keep going back to the older episodes.

    Shame really. I rank Mike Rowe’s narration right up there with Brian Cox in Wonders of the Universe and Solar System.

    This new guy doing HTUW…I just can’t do it. Fingers on a chalkboard irritating to me.

  67. Sandra

    I loved watching and DVR’d the first season. Then I bought it when my recordings were accidentally deleted. I have the 2nd season on DVR and find the content fascinating. That said, the new narrator just does not work! He’s not enthusiastic about his narration. He’s not interesting in his narration. And he just sounds false. His voice is very irritating. Please find someone else. I saw on Mike Rowe’s site that he would have done the series but wasn’t asked. There are several others who would do well. I am very disappointed that the current narrator takes so much from the content of the show that it is difficult to watch. I do hope there will be a 3rd season, hopefully with a return of Mike Rowe or at least someone who is his equal as the narrator.

  68. Terry Chambers

    The new narrator, also an actor, must have been crushed by this lost opportunity. I was an actor and I “feel his pain.” Perhaps he will find roles more suited to his voice, like Clifton Webb or Vincent Price. Also the writers probably thought they were writing for Mike Rowe. A professional writer has the ability to write to an actor’s voice. My favorite narrator of all time sounded like a young amateur but his voice was full of honest emotion; the guy on Victory at Sea. Edmund O’Brien and Walter Cronkite were also terrific.

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