I hope students would be able to do a detailed critical study of the science in this TV drama, and to discuss this with their families. Dramatic presentations of issues can be very effective, but as with any other information source, a critical eye is needed.

There are websites, such as the bad physics site, which point out the often humorous errors in TV and movies.
http://www.jal.cc.il.us/~mikolajsawicki/bad_physics.htm http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/BadScience.html

Bird flu hitting TV screens May 9, ANDREW BRIDGES, Associated Press, Posted on Fri, Apr. 28, 2006

WASHINGTON – Bodies piling up so quickly it takes dump trucks to haul them away. Barbed wire to keep whole neighborhoods quarantined. It’s Hollywood’s version of bird flu, a blur of fact and fiction that some scientists say could confuse the public.

“Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America,” an ABC made-for-television movie, airs May 9, just as scientists are to begin testing of wild birds in Alaska that could herald the arrival of bird flu in North America. …

Bird flu expert Michael Osterholm said the movie realistically portrays the shortages of goods and services, and some of the ensuing panic, that could occur in a pandemic. But Osterholm frets the blurring of information and entertainment could do the public a disservice….

Dr. Bruce Gellin, director of the National Vaccine Program office, praised the movie’s timeliness in raising public awareness of bird flu, as well as its portrayal of “a number of potentially realistic scenarios.” Those include the limited availability of antiviral medicines in a pandemic, the months it could take to develop an effective vaccine and in turn how the United States could be dependent on other countries – yes, that means France – to provide vaccine. The movie’s stressing of the importance of planning also won kudos from the department….

ABC will broadcast the movie during sweeps, when networks often trot out scare fare to boost the ratings that help determine local advertising rates. The network isn’t pushing “Fatal Contact” hard but has played up the bona fides of the movie, which it claims was “meticulously researched.”…

“I have some problems with it,” Barry said. “It’s certainly not a documentary.”

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/ entertainment/gossip/14454432.htm