Nova ScienceNow: grotesque, tantalizing

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“Take a little of the grotesque, a lot of the tantalizing and a heavy dose of friendly analogies, and you have Nova ScienceNow, a science program in a newsmagazine format that will leave laymen of almost any age feeling smarter and better informed,” writes New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger in a review of tonight’s episode on the leech’s return to the medical field, scientists’ search for extraterrestrial signals, creating stem cells without the use of embryos, and a new deep-sea camera. [Episode website.] “Pretty much everything gets an analogy, apt or ridiculous,” says Genzlinger. “Stem-cell treatments would be like putting fettuccine in a blender and making a cheesecake out of it. Yes, [host] Dr. [Neil deGrasse] Tyson puts some fettuccine in a blender.” The info is all “served up brightly, and at a level that a child can grasp but that doesn’t bore an adult.” NOVA, the mothership of this newsmag spinoff, isn’t exactly shining–the show’s ratings have been decreasing since 2004 (Current, May 27, 2008).