TV REVIEWS : ‘Countdown’: A Look at Living and Working in Space

People of a certain age--say, those who know who Digable Planets is--can look forward to the opportunity to live and work in space. Some scientists believe that we may begin colonizing the moon within 10 to 15 years.

A fascinating look ahead to that adventure can be seen tonight (at 8 on KCET-TV Channel 28, at 7 on KVCR-TV Channel 24) in “Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun.”

The program features Jaime Escalante, the former Garfield High School math teacher now living in Sacramento, as--surprise--a teacher 25 years in the future who is reading a letter from a former student now working in space.

As he reads sections of the letter, dramatic and humorous vignettes of life in space are interwoven with down-on-Earth interviews with today’s space scientists. The vignettes include such personalities as Kathy Bates, Pat Morita, Jackee, Weird Al Yankovic and wrestler Jesse (The Body) Ventura, who tells viewers at the beginning of the show: “Relax, you’re still watching PBS.”


The special could use a little more such humor, but it does give a comprehensive look at the problems that must be solved before mankind can exist for long in space: Where will the water come from? Where will the food come from? Think hydroponics. What do we do about clothes? Think transferable pockets. And how do we take a shower or go to the bathroom in space? The program gives us a hint.

The conquest of space is the last great adventure left to mankind. “Living and Working in Space” offers an interesting peek into an era that’s just around the corner.