Discovery+ Series ‘Six Degrees With Mike Rowe’ Gets a Showing on Cable Discovery

Discovery+ Series ‘Six Degrees With Mike Rowe’ Gets a Showing on Cable Discovery January 25, 2021

Mike Rowe stands next to an American flag in front of a tent
‘Six Degrees With Mike Rowe’/Disocvery+

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Mike Rowe fans who haven’t yet signed up for streaming service Discovery + can get a taste of what they’re missing, when “How a Civil War Soldier Produced This Show,” an episode of Six Degrees With Mike Rowe, airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

With all six episodes launched on Discovery+ on Jan. 4, Six Degrees With Mike Rowe is the Dirty Jobs host’s take on a favorite British show from his youth in the late 1970s, Connections, with science historian James Burke.

While both shows trace the strange and often circuitous path of personalities, technologies and discoveries through history, Rowe’s is, shall we say, a bit more idiosyncratic.

“Bad puppets,” says Rowe, “bad recreations, suspicious wardrobe, wigs that don’t quite fit; my old buddy Chuck from high school who plays 35 different characters.”

“People try to out-Burke James Burke,” says Rowe (who’s become quite a Facebook presence) in a phone interview, “and you can’t. He’s a brilliant Oxford professor stalking through the English countryside in a white leisure suit explaining with great enthusiasm, ‘Why is it the tracks left by the first Roman chariots are of an identical dimension to those tracks left on the moon by a lunar lander?’

“I’m thinking, how the hell are you going to land that plane? But, of course, he always did. I did a show a couple of years ago for Discovery called How Booze Built America, which was my first attempt to do a version of Burke.

“I didn’t want to imitate Connections, because everybody I’ve ever seen who’s tried to do that has smashed themselves to pieces on the rocky shores of derivativeness.”

So, instead, Rowe decided to start with what appears to be a silly question — like, can a mousetrap cure a hangover? — and then traces a roundabout way through history to an answer.

Six Degrees also features Rowe’s longtime pal Chuck Klausmeyer (who works for Rowe’s mikeroweWORKS Foundation), playing a panoply of characters. There are also animations and some really shoddy puppetry.

“Bad puppets,” says Rowe, “bad recreations, suspicious wardrobe, wigs that don’t quite fit; my old buddy Chuck from high school who plays 35 different characters.”

When Rowe started the show in 2019, he didn’t have a network, so he found a sponsor in the oil and natural-gas industry. He shot six half-hours but thought they’d work better as hours, so he wanted to go back and shoot new material in March  2020 — but then COVID-19 shut down everything.

It wasn’t until July that Rowe could go back into production (with daily virus testing) and finish the work in Georgia (he also did another Discovery show, Dirty Jobs: Rowe’d Trip, during 2020).  And a lot of the money for Six Degrees came out of Rowe’s own pocket.

Says Mike Rowe, ‘Today, more than ever, especially with a topic like history, it’s really important not to be out there saying ‘Take it from me,’ or “This is the way it really happened.’

“So,” he says, “suddenly, I’m like, ‘What the hell? How did I turn into a financier in nonfiction TV?’ If you want to do the shows you want, and if you want to write about the things you want to write about, then in some way, shape or form, you’re going to have to assume a level of risk that maybe you didn’t do before.”

Luckily, Rowe’s old partner, Discovery, took a look, liked what it saw and picked the show up for its new streaming service.

What Rowe learned on Dirty Jobs — where he was a perpetual apprentice to all kinds of hands-on workers — were the values of humility and authenticity. Unlike Burke, he doesn’t stride onto the screen as a know-it-all expert. Instead, Rowe comes with questions, honest curiosity and a willingness to be taught new things.

“With Six Degrees,” he says, “it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s got to be a truth cam. We have to be honest with the viewer, and we have to try to shoot the show in a way that makes them feel like they were there with us as we did it.

“So, if that means non-traditional bumps and recaps, great. But you have to give something up in order to get to that level of trust. Today, more than ever, especially with a topic like history, it’s really important not to be out there saying ‘Take it from me,’ or “This is the way it really happened.’

“I’m trying to do something Burke didn’t do, which is infuse an honest level of humility into the show. Not because I’m artificially modest, but because I’m nowhere near as smart as James Burke, and I’d get crucified if I pretended otherwise.”

As for Dirty Jobs itself, Rowe hints that we might see more of it yet, especially since the “essential” workers it often portrayed have kept the country going for the past year.

Watch this space.

Image: Discovery+

Don’t miss a thing: Subscribe to all that I write at Authory.com/KateOHare

About Kate O'Hare
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is a veteran entertainment journalist, Social Media Manager for Family Theater Productions and a rookie screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
"I think you're making an apples to oranges comparison, Each universe operates under different rules ..."

Women and Power: Buffy vs. Scully
"Black Catholics number 3 million, and are a larger group than the entire AME Church, ..."

PBS Surveys ‘The Black Church’ — ..."
"I am a priest in Savannah, Georgia. The Black Catholic history here is very rich. ..."

PBS Surveys ‘The Black Church’ — ..."
"The Evangelicals trademarked "Christian" in the 1980s. That's what Catholics get for voting for Reagan."

PBS Surveys ‘The Black Church’ — ..."

Browse Our Archives