‘Strip the City’ reveals urban secrets
MANILA, Philippines - In a way, “Strip the City,” a Discovery Channel exclusive that premiered this week on local airwaves, is a travel show: the program takes viewers to various places, pointing out via visuals, interviews and voiceover narration what’s interesting, if not amazing, about its featured locale.
The difference is, where a typical travel show usually explores a given setting’s tourist attractions, cultural idiosyncrasies and culinary delights, each “Strip the City” episode zeroes in on how awesome certain cities are in terms of efficient infrastructure and effective urban planning.
The show is akin to unscrewing some compact, all-purpose gadget to unveil its innards and see how they function in unison. Yet “Strip” is all the more engrossing, even for non-engineers, -architects or –geologists — the program able to rouse the general audience’s curiosity by fashioning its episodes like mini-movies.
That is, each “Strip” edition is replete with an ominous, gripping musical score; narration by veteran Thom Kikot, who talks on big-screen blockbuster mode; computer-generated imagery that “peels” the man-made skin off buildings; and, best of all, high-stakes questions that challenge an array of construction specialists, and their resulting, often magnificent solutions.
In an episode dubbed “Desert City: Dubai,” “Strip the City” exposes that famed desert metropolis in terms of how its millions of people and many buildings — including the ultra-expensive hotel Burj Al Arab — manage to thrive despite Dubai’s arid temperatures, furious sandstorms and sandy (as opposed to soil-rich) landscape. Given Dubai’s wealth of oil, this “Strip” edition also reveals how all that black gold is siphoned from under thousands of feet of multi-layered earth.
The other “Strip the City” episodes are likewise a gold mine of metropolitan revelations, dissecting how each city’s outer and inner mechanisms comprise a vast network of infrastructure that is dizzying yet dazzling, hulking yet humming.
In “Earthquake City: San Francisco,” focus is given to Golden Gate city’s vulnerability to destructive quakes as it rests on the San Andreas Fault, and how engineers and geologists have nevertheless kept San Franciscans safe, their skyline intact and the threat of raging fires at bay. In “Harbour City: Sydney,” Australia’s capital is cited as sitting on Earth’s driest inhabited continent and we get to see how the city’s skyscrapers and streets continue to function, along with how its public works experts manage to store water underneath it all.
Through “Ice City: Toronto,” Canada’s largest city is showcased for how it has managed to flourish, towering skyscrapers and all, despite a frigid environment, one whose winters attain arctic temperatures and create savage snowstorms. “Underground City: London,” for its part, burrows deep to show its vast, basement-level intricacy, and presents Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Europe’s reputed tallest skyscraper, the Shard, beyond what is visible to passersby.
With “Ancient City: Rome,” we behold the ingenious technology behind the so-called eternal city, with all its engineering masterwork that has stood the test of 2,000 years, along with a bonus glimpse at how a new Metro line is being built there.
Watch the trailer for the debut episode of ‘Strip the City’ here:
In sum, “Strip the City” aims to fascinate viewers everywhere — not just through CGI that recalls the constructing-cities-out-of-memory conceit of the Christopher Nolan movie “Inception” but more so with how people have figured out the answer to the most daunting of urban dilemmas. The hour-long show thereby suggests that, when it comes to metropolitan problems, if there’s a will, there’s definitely a way.
On that note, “Strip the City” should prove inspiring and motivating to us who have managed to withstand the flood, pollution, traffic and overall chaos of “Infernal City: Manila.” - Rappler.com
‘Strip the City’ airs every Wednesday, 8pm, on Discovery Channel. Replays are on Thursdays, 12mn and 1pm; Saturdays, 4pm; and Sundays, 7pm.