A New Twist on Saturday Morning

I don’t watch a lot of television. I don’t own a proper one – I get what I need by running a cable into the back of my media center PC, and mostly, I’m watching re-runs of quality programming via Amazon Plus.

It’s a grey, chilly weekend in San Diego – a rarity to be sure, but one that makes me want to burrow and hibernate. So after leaving the gym at 8 this morning, I stopped by Jack-In-The-Box for a large coffee, then hurried home to a steamy bowl of oatmeal. For the heck of I turned on the ‘tube.’

I don’t know what I was looking for; maybe a morning news show or something. I remember Saturday morning was always the nearly exclusive bailey-wick of cartoons. As I kid, I looked forward to an hour or two of Buggs Bunny and the Road Runner almost every Saturday. But today, when I tuned into CBS I saw something different.

They’ve aparantly revamped their whole Saturday morning schedule with something called The Dream Team. It is a set of six half hour programs, geared toward teenagers (but of much broader appeal), of an educational and inspirational nature. I saw bits of two of them with a whole episode of Recipe Rehab sandwiched in between.

The first bit I saw was Innovation Nation, which presents fascinating accounts of inventors and inventions.  I saw a clip about the fellow who came up with the first digital camera.  At the end of the show is a segment where a couple of the more difficult words used in the program are defined.  I’m pleased to say I learned the real definition of ‘harbinger.’  I’d always given it an ominous spin because it seemed most often to preceed ‘of death.’  A ‘harbinger of death,’ being a precursor or for-teller of the END.  That’s not correct.  A harbinger is anything that essentially changes the game.  It is an event or moment that impacts everything that follows.  So the invention of the digital camera was a harbinger of present day photography.

Next I watched a whole episode of Recipe Rehab.  Now this was really cool!  It’s a cooking show, kinda, that aims to remake popular but unhealthy dishes into tasty, healthy versions.  This episode started with an normal unhealthy American family talking about Mom’s famous chicken and dumplings.  She starts with 3 cans of Campbell s Cream of Mushroom Soup and ends with canned biscuits.  With almost 4,000 Mg of Sodium per serving, I guess there’s little wonder that Dad has high blood pressure!  Two chefs are challenged to make a healthy version of the dish in 45 minutes.  One takes an Asian route, substituting homemade chicken won-tons for dumplings.  The other sticks closer to the original recipe, using a homemade vegetable soup as a base and using quinoa flour and chia seeds for the dumplings.

In the end the two dishes are ranked by the family – who had to make both from the recipes the chefs developed – on ease of prep and taste.  The show’s experts rated them on nutritional value.  The second recipe won but only by a point . . . and that’s not the point!  It was great fun watching the two chefs mull how to put something together that would approach the original recipe.  I learned a number of things I intend to use in my own kitchen.

Finally, I watched a little of Leila Ali’s show on adventurers.  She’s Mohammed Ali’s daughter, you know.  The bit I saw featured a Norwegian female cliff jumper scaling a 4,000 foot rock formation in the desert in Mali to leap off in a flying suit.  It was thrilling and very well photographed.  A beautiful show.

I am so happy to know that the programming people at CBS decided to take a substantial risk on providing quality programming aimed at young people during a time slot usually reserved for pablum.  It’s really good stuff – and though I doubt I’ll tune in live again, all of the shows are archived at CBS.com, so in my infrequent television moments, I’ll pick them up there.