I think I'm seeing double here...four
Turns out I was in fact seeing double, but two new UFO shows premiering on
the same night--with the same title no less--is certainly an unheard of
event. For The History Channel, UFO Hunters' premier was a continuation of
that network's successful campaign to combat the stigma of 24/7 Hitler
programming. For the Sci Fi Channel, their UFO Hunters was yet another
attempt to bring in ratings with something other than wrestling or anime.
With two similar shows competing for your viewership, you're probably
wondering which one is worth your time. Read on and find out...
Back in the day, there were two shows that I credit for sparking my interest
in the paranormal. "In Search Of..." and "Unsolved Mysteries" provided a
virtual smorgasbord of esoteric enlightenment on everything from historic
conspiracy theory to cryptozoology and ufology...well before such terms were
even invented. For my young, impressionable mind, they were topics that
would develop into a personality-defining hobby for me. And while the format
and subject matter of these two shows lives on every night in the realm of
talk radio, it saddens me that a true successor to either has yet to be
formulated for television audiences.
But that's not to say no one has tried.
Almost eight months ago, Coast to Coast AM host George Noory showed
us his vision for an all-encompassing paranormal television show with the
much maligned pilot of "Into the Unknown." I'm not going to write any more
opinion of the show than I already
have, but to summarize, let me just say that it was an altogether cheesy
product that suffered from a severe lack of emotion save for viewer
embarrassment. So although a general purpose paranormal television show has
yet to capture a deserving audience, a slew of more specialized,
reality-type shows and documentaries have managed to deliver entertainment
and information in a well polished package.
When I use the term 'polished', I have The History Channel's recent lineup
of paranormal mini-docs in mind. I teased in the opening paragraph that The
History Channel has gained somewhat of a reputation for perhaps focusing too
heavily on World War II; there was a time when 'The Hitler Channel' seemed a
more appropriate name. Over the last several months, however, the network
has been doing an excellent job mixing up their programming to include more
science related shows. This includes programs like the excellently crafted
"The Universe" series, but also a bevy of hour-long documentaries focusing
on UFOs, Area 51, and 9/11 conspiracy. Featuring many notable figures these
areas, the production value and informativeness of these docs are nothing
short of top notch.
If only I could say the same thing about both of the new "UFO Hunters."
As I sat watching them, I couldn't help but be reminded of two other shows
in the genre--neither of which are complimentary. First off, it was obvious
The History Channel's "Hunters" was an attempt to get in on the success of
the Sci Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters" program. For those that have seen Ghost
Hunters, you're probably well aware of its 'sound and fury, signifying
nothing' approach to wasting everyone's time. Sci Fi's Hunters follows the
same mold, but then I was more expecting a simple port and name change with
it. In other words, Sci Fi had already set my standards pretty low.
Considering the goods they've been dishing out in this field lately, I
expected so much more from The History Channel.
The second show I was reminded of when watching these was, quite
unfortunately, George Noory's Into the Unknown and its scripted, robot-like
presentation. Not so much Sci Fi's version--which came off to me as a much
more spontaneous affair--but History's version felt about as 'real' as a
sitcom. Obviously scripted, the final product smacked of insincerity that
could have been easily avoided were they to have gone with a format the cast
and crew would feel more comfortable with. Like Into the Unknown, it had
that unmistakable sense of amateurish production coupled with a complete
lack of vision.
Maybe I'm being too hard on these shows, but ultimately I feel they were
really nothing special. To answer my original question, for now I'm going to
say neither is worth your time. Like two hornless bulls trying to fight it
out, I think it's best we let this Hunters vs. Hunters duel tire itself out
before jumping in and declaring a winner.