A Fantasy Made Real
The Evolution of the Subjunctive
Documentary on U.S. Cable
Science Channels

by Anneke M. Metz (Montana State University)

The need for drama in the contemporary television science documentary, coupled with
the advent of computer-generated imaging (CGI) technology, has led to the develop-
ment of increasingly fiction-driven science documentary, specifically on cable outlets
such as the Discovery suite channels and National Geographic. While subjunctive doc-
umentary shows such as Walking with Dinosaurs initially used CGI technology to illus-
trate scientists’ best understanding of Earth prehistory, the use of CGI has quickly
escalated to the animation of purely fantastical life forms. This trend has resulted in a
baroque subjunctive documentary form that has evacuated any possibility of serious
science documentary on cable channels devoted to science programming. (download)