Bill Nye The Science Guy: The Early Years

I brought up the show Almost Live! in an earlier post; that was mainly a way to promote the launch of the fansite, but I'm impressed how solid a show it was, especially considering it was a local production by Seattle's NBC affiliate KING-TV, andthat so much of the humor was based on the western Washington/Seattle stereotypes.

The show was also notable for launching the careers of Joel McHale and Bill Nye; I thought I'd post links to some of Nye's earlier "Science Guy" bits as well as some of his more notable sketch work.  Mandatory safety goggles on!

Pre-PBS Science Guy (1989-92): There isn't a lot of his earliest, earliest stuff due to the first five seasons (the talk show years) not being in the KING rerun rotation, but Nye would appear in his Science Guy persona several times a season when he was a regular on the show, with show host John Keister (who would appear on the PBS show in the Billy Quan segments) as his foil.  He didn't make any Science Guy appearances during the 1992-93 season (whatever sketches he did appear in were holdovers from the summer's Comedy Central package shoots), but here's a good collection of many of Bill's pre-PBS work.

  • Elevator Safety (September 30, 1989): Bill answers the question "Will jumping right before you touch bottom save you in an elevator crash?" with an egg and greenscreen.
  • Newton's Third Law (November 18, 1989): Bill tries to demonstrate conservation of momentum and ends up killing a few balloon people.
  • Playing With Bubbles (May 12, 1990):  With the help of some show sponsoring cola products and balloons, Bill has some fun with carbon dioxide.
  • Air Vortex (October 20, 1990): Bill has a vortex generator and he demonstrates wind power.
  • Firepower (March 23, 1991): Bill adds a source of heat to different fuels; the resulting liberation of gases is powerful indeed.
  • Vacuum Science (October 26, 1991): Bill has some eggs, some balloons, some bottles and some fire.  Some sucking is involved.
  • Hot Air (February 8, 1992): Bill demonstrates lift and shameless promotion.
  • The Mechanical Advantage (May 16, 1992): Bill shows John how some simple machines can help him move more with less effort.

The Guest Appearances (1994-99): After Bill Nye The Science Guy premiered in 1993, Nye would make an annual return to his old stomping grounds at KING-TV and demonstrate that he no longer needed to enter to "She Blinded Me With Science" because he had a theme song of his own.  The experiments are bigger to match Nye's star power.

  • Simple Machines (May 21, 1994): Bill demonstrates some levers and the Catapault of Science.
  • Stored Energy (May 13, 1995): Bill has John Keister go outside the King 5 Studios to be the counterweight in the Drainage Culvert of Science.
  • Airbag Safety (April 26, 1997): Bill demonstrates how airbags work with Crash Test Egg, Crash Test Cantaloupe and Crash Test Keister.
  • Implosions (May 9, 1998): Bill tries to collapse several things and does battle against his nemesis, the Oil Drum.
  • Explosions (May 22, 1999): Fresh off his Emmy win, Bill uses two-part fuels on what turned out to be the final episode of Almost Live!

Other appearances: Because Bill was a regular sketch performer on the show, he wasn't limited to science experiments...

Speedwalker: The power-walking superhero in those short shorts that leave very little to the imagination (check out that bounce) stops crime around Seattle.

  • Debut sketch (no date available, I think this is from around 1988): Several vignettes demonstrate how he uses his superpower.
  • Kingdome Bomber (November 4, 1989): Someone threatens to blow up the then-stadium.
  • Rose Bowl Trophy Thieves (February 22, 1992): Those darn Canadians took the trophy.  Beware of comically crying football players.
  • Espresso Thief (May 2, 1992):  Someone skips out on paying for Seattle's Best coffee.

Hi Five'n White Guys: Bill Nye, Steve Wilson, Ed Wyatt and Bill Jeakle are the demographically-desirable, enviable, palm-slappers.  After Nye left the show, they did a few more installments (including one with Joel McHale and the guys catching Mariner Fever).

  • Debut sketch (October 28, 1989):  Everybody loves the hi-five'n white guys.  Dave Huddleston (future anchor for the CW Philly's Eyewitness News at 10) wishes he could be one of them.  Bill Stainton gets to join them just by begging "Pleeeeeeeeeaaaassssseeeee?".
  • Big Adventure (November 18, 1989): The guys go to the mall, get hideous jackets and reject perpetual tagalong John Keister for the first time.
  • Go Sight Seeing (March 2, 1991): The guys visit Seattle landmarks and avoid a pounding.
  • In The Pouring Rain (November 23, 1991): The guys decide slipping on sidewalks isn't worth it and decide to go home to watch Almost Live!
  • In Ballard (February 15, 1992): The guys journey to the land of elderly Scandinavians and bad driving.  A sequel of sorts to the classic Ballard Driving Acadamy.
  • In Canada (May 9, 1992): The guys discover the joys of Canadian beer and mounties in Vancouver.

Miscellaneous Nye

  • Maturity or Stupidity (February 1989): You be the judge.
  • Bill Nye is William Shatner (September 23, 1989): The one-man show coming to Tukwila.
  • You Can Hear A Pin Drop (October 21, 1989): Nye attempts to show how clear his new phone carrier's signal is.
  • Flyin' Low (May 12, 1990): Flanker and Dawson try "Flyin' High" for a change.
  • Johnson Family News (October 20, 1990): Nye only has a small part as the uncle, but I figured I might as well post this because it features an appearance by a 13-year-old Anna Faris.
  • The Kicker (November 17, 1990): The product that picks up where the clapper leaves off.
  • The Worst Girlfriend In The World (December 8, 1990): Nye, Wilson and Keister each end up having their lives ruined by Jill (Tracey Conway).
  • Date With An Engineer (January 19, 1991): Great bit of casting; Nye is a former Boeing engineer.
  • Shoe Commercial (April 4, 1992): There are shoes for men and shoes for women...Nye demonstrates a third option.
  • Studs from Microsoft (April 11, 1992): Tyrone (Nye) just wants to see a bra.  Up close.  A real one.