DATELINE: UnXplained Makes Dead Speak Again
After several dull weeks, the series UnXplained now gives Shatner some outrageous narration—and he delivers as only he can. From his opening warning that the show will depict mummification and viewers are advised to be ready for the horror.
Mr. Shatner is never more amusing than when he must play archly ironic. Discussing bringing the dead back to life seems to energize him.
This wild episode casts a wide net. It begins with the most famous ancient mummy, King Tut, found in 1922 by Howard Carter, recapping that legend. It shifts to the self-mummification practice in Japan several hundred years ago when living Buddhist monks slowly poisoned themselves, in a drying out process, to become mummies.
Shatner’s onerous tones warn us several times about “disturbing imagery,” but it is likely the enhanced, colorized photos of the alleged mummy of John Wilkes Booth that might be rather startling.
Recounting the tale of how Booth escaped, and how he was mummified by arsenic by a local undertaker, his body was taken by Finis L. Bates, now called a carnival barker, who showed the body at the St. Louis World’s Fair. After that, it was displayed for twenty years before disappearing.
Other notable mummies are not to be outdone. Take Bernadette, born in 1844, who saw the Virgin Mary 18 times before she died. Once dug up, she was perfectly preserved to become a saint. However, they had to coat her body with wax and put her in a hermetically sealed glass coffin.
The same for Lenin is explored. He is systematically “recharged” every few years by scientists who make him look younger for public display.
Shatner takes some pleasure in explaining about cryogenics, or freezing dead remains for later reanimation. He also notes that an Egyptian mummy recently had its voice box enhanced to create his “voice” 3000 years after the fact.
All in all, this remains one of the most death-defying of all shows in the UnXplained series.