Rob Newman’s History of Oil

Being blissfully bereft of television these days, I do tend to miss the odd nugget of goodness that occasionally drifts by in that stream of sewage. DVD rental serves well for intelligent, entertaining trash. And it seems that YouTube and Google Video, copyrights notwithstanding, are stepping in more and more to serve up bizarre and/or wonderful snippets fished out of the rivers of media putrefaction.

Via the Peak Energy blog, I just stumbled upon an absolute gem: Rob Newman’s History of Oil. Newman zips through oil-related global geopolitics, from the first Mesopotamian oil strike to Peak Oil and beyond, in a vaudeville style that’s hugely engaging. This TV adaptation has some brilliantly done additions, too (watch out for the graph plotting Middle Eastern politics against children’s TV from the 1970s).

It’s probably because I arrived at it via a serious energy blog that I saw it as being as much about learning history as having a good laugh. That said, it’s occasionally side-splitting—especially the inspired vision of Tony Blair as Goebbels. The overall effect, though, reminds me of Michael Moore’s genuine bewilderment at the fact that he’d ended up doing what he saw as the job of journalists: informing people about the important facts of the world situation. Newman’s show is worth at least ten times its duration in TV “news”.

Watch it now.