DATELINE: Great Escapes Explained!
For History Channel to bring back a series with such alacrity, you know it is a big winner. So, we are not surprised that William Shatner has returned for another batch of UnXplained.
His delivery is deadpan, hambone, hilarious. He has found another career at age 90—as robust as ever. His latest show opened with a look at “Greatest Escapes,” and the underlying notion is that some supernatural or paranormal power may be at work. Perhaps.
The first vignette put focus on Houdini and his inexplicable escapes from sure death under water. There is no explanation as he took it to his grave, only noting his “brain” was the “key.” Though Conan Doyle, of Sherlock fame, thought it was some supernatural psychic ability, Houdini dismissed that. Shatner raises the issue again.
Another anecdote is about a man who escaped a submarine 200 feet under the Mediterranean in a primitive pressure suit in 1941. No believed him until the wreck was found 50 years later with all the tangible evidence proved him right. And, there is the report of a Cuban escapee from Havana in 1969 who hid in a jet wheel well for nine hours, going into suspended animation, frozen.
All of these incidents are beyond science: and your usual History Channel expert, Dr. Travis Taylor, shows up again and again to tell us how this defies physics.
These relatively unknown, but documented cases, are always the backbone of the series, and they are handled with marvelous re-enactments, or archival footage.
Perhaps the most two fascinating episodes of the paranormal invoke the story of one of four survivors of the Twin Towers on 911. He was pushed to choose the only stairway unblocked to walk down 84 flights. Brian Clark is interviewed and explains how he has no idea who pushed him in the right direction.
And a little-known Alcatraz escape story involves Native American legends about positive spirits on the Rock leading the only 3 escapees to succeed in their plan. It seems gulls only land when the omens are good. And that was when the prisoners made their swim. Who knows?
Shatner is back, and that is all that matters.