Much has changed in the world since 1998, when Bill Nye’s American half-hour live action science program came to an end.
But the on-air personality affectionately known as “the science guy” to most millennials certainly hasn’t.
“Hey Bill, fix the bow tie!” executive producer and showrunner Michael Naidus yelled to Nye at an October taping of his new Netflix show Bill Nye Saves the World.
“The most important thing!” Nye joked back, adjusting his signature bowtie before the camera began rolling.
Three, two, one, action.
“Hi folks, I’m Bill Nye you may remember me from the Science Guy show,” Nye says, half reading from a teleprompter half improvising his lines. “Well I’m back, talking science again with a new show and a new lab. I’m loving me some Netflix on the electric internet machines that all the kids are using.”
Cue the millennial nostalgia.
Bill! Bill! Bill!
Nye said he’d always wanted to have another show. The trouble was finding people who “for lack of a better phrase, get it,” he said in a recent interview with Mashable.
Once Naidus was on board, he said everything else also fell into place, including a “network” for the show to call its home.
Netflix, a streaming giant, has long been building its library of originals. Nye’s show became the perfect addition because it catered to the cord-cutting millennials who grew up watching the scientist.
“As you’ve probably guessed, we’re not really making a kid show,” Nye says in the introduction to his first episode. “It’s for you grown up kids all over the world. We’re going to be talking about important, perhaps even controversial, issues from scientific points of view and we’re going to make it a lot of fun along the way.”
Even Netflix’s promotional efforts seem millennial-focused. A recent tweet from the show’s account featured Nye explaining how to nurse a hangover. The clip ends with Nye dropping the mic.
It’s already working. At the taping, the audience was made up of many millennial fans, who chanted “Bill! Bill! Bill!” (from the theme song from Science Guy) in between takes.
Though the turnaround for the taping was tight it started at 4 p.m. and was supposed to wrap by 6 pm. Nye made sure to give audience members the chance to directly ask him questions.
“You’ve been my inspiration my whole life,” one audience member, who was sporting a bow tie, said when Nye called on him. “I just wanted to say thank you.”
New lab, who dis?
Thanks to Netflix, the show’s set also has a big upgrade.
“In many ways, doing a show for Netflix is easier because we have the resources,” Nye said. “Science Guy was shot single camera, in brick warehouse in Seattle. This was a real soundstage. One thing to get used to was the set being really brightly lit. When I started out in TV, you couldnt have it that bright because it would overwhelm the camera. Now you can see much more detail.”
The show minus special pre-taped segments was filmed live on the Sony lot in Culver City. The stage is divided into various areas, which Nye bounces between during the show.
In the middle the main stage is Nye’s lab. The ceiling design looks like DNA. Front and center is a table, with a lab, for Nye to do experiments. There’s also two giant screen and white boards for Nye’s explaining.
There’s also an area for when Nye has a panel discussion with guests related to the episode’s topic and a library area (with giant bookshelves).
The series features a slew of guest correspondents, including supermodel Karlie Kloss, science communicator/YouTuber Derek Muller, Australian comedian and actor Nazeem Hussain, and Xploration Outer Space host Emily Calandrelli.
“Working with Bill this year was a dream come true,” Kloss, who has also made a name for herself in the tech world with her coding camp, said in an email interview with Mashable last year. “As a child of the ’90s, I watched Bill Nye The Science Guy growing up and was always a big fan of the show. He has this incredible ability to use simple experiments to help show complicated concepts. At a young age, he really instilled in me a passion and curiosity for science.”
A handful of celebrities including Tim Gun, Rachel Bloom, Zach Braff, Joel McHale and Steve Aaoki also make appearances. At the October taping, Gunn was there to help Nye host a “runway show” featuring designer babies and their parents.
Nye said the show has a staff of about 8 writers, four who have backgrounds in comedy and four who have backgrounds in science.
“I think I have a message for the world and I like being on television,” Nye said of his return. “I want to influence people and change the world.”
Bill Nye Saves the World debuts on Netflix on April 21, the day before Earth Day.
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