Picks and Pans Review: Secrets of Technology

updated 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Learning Channel (Saturdays, 10 p.m. ET)

B +

What sets us apart from the beast? What has allowed our puny, all-but-defenseless species to dominate and transform this planet? Technology—that is. our ability to imagine, create and refine tools and products.

This British series, modestly refashioned for American audiences, looks at the developments that have taken us from hunkering in caves to exploring the cosmos, the daring advances that have culminated in America's Funniest Home Videos. The program argues that it is technology, not art, that provides most of the meaning and symbolism in our material culture. And it delves into how we shape technology and how, increasingly, it shapes us.

The show incorporates archaeology, aesthetics and pure science to weave together the primitive and modern, and it employs film-montage techniques quite effectively. On the other hand, the focus tends to be rather capricious.

But watching this, you will learn at least one new thing every week, and how many TV shows can you say that about? Next week (July 9), for instance, you can find out how a supermarket scanner works. Somebody make sure George Bush tunes in.

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