DATELINE: Best Series on TV?
William Shatner is in wry form again as the series UnXplained actually tackles another unusual subject with some interesting insights. This time the show’s topic deals with how several individuals have made up for a lack of one sense (blindness, deaf, etc.,)with enhanced other senses.
This is more than someone learning to rely on what’s left when Nature has denied them the full range of sensory perception. The handful of interview subjects are not your usual subjects—and that gives the series yet another fresh approach.
A blind man who lost both eyes as a child to cancer make clicking noises, a form of sonar, to locate objects around him—and can makes a drawing or map accurately as to what is in his world when he walks around or ride a bicycle. It’s called echolocation, and some may disparage it as luck, he clearly has a new sensory approach that is nothing short of paranormal.
Another example, from the deaf world, is called synesthesia or synesthetes, people who may not hear noise or sound, but experience colors, and strange noise, to make up for their lacking. It is amazing to think that sound has color to define it.
Old-hand experts from our usual History Channel shows, Dr. Michael Dennin and Dr. Travis Taylor, are around again to discuss the physics of cross-connected senses. And, it is ground-breaking when it comes to these show topics.
Another victim of lack of senses, who feels no pain, explains the dangers of daily life when there is no pain sensitivity, which is called a genetic malfunction. He also explains he has so many injuries since childhood that it is now a blessing to be pain-free. To have it restored would mean he would not function at all.
Another premature infant named Eric Paravicini given oxygen in abundance to survive turns into a musical maven who at age 5 had memorized thousands of songs and now can play the piano like a virtuoso. The drawback and price for these “talents” is that forms of autism deny a full and satisfying existence.
Shatner is clearly in awe of this episode’s subjects—and we have to admit this was a startling and fresh approach, again putting UnXplained at the top of the heap of History series.
DATELINE: World War II & Big Three
Leave it to History Channel to bait and switch its viewers yet again.
It seems after weeks of calling Race to Victory a three-part series, it now appears it is multi-part series. Worse yet, History Channel simply tagged on the nextepisode after the third (now penultimate episode). But, wait, there’s even more!
Events superseded individuals in the first two episodes, but we wanted to see more about the interpersonal and psychological ties between the Big Three. This is a glaring omission in an otherwise excellent series. Now it appears this may be coming in the unknown fourth and fifth episode of the show.
We still have no idea what the “race to victory” of the title means. No explanation seems to have been offered, and self-evident strikes us as ridiculous.
This is still fascinating stuff: starting with Germany trying to break up the new alliance of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt, by revealing mass graves of Stalin’s victims. It didn’t work because the Allies needed the lesser of the two evils.
The first meeting of the Big Three didn’t happen because Roosevelt was too sick to travel to Asia where Churchill and Stalin actually became friendly. Stalin wanted aid to Leningrad, but Churchill was set on fighting in Africa to protect the Suez Canal.
The States were also preparing to take on the Pacific campaign to regain Midway. Both Brits and Americans were breaking Axis codes—and that was the real turning point, but it didn’t hurt to have General Patton show up to give the Nazis a headache.
There are likely many tidbits in this series that only diehard buffs of World War II will know. For the rest of us, this is illuminating and intriguing.
DATELINE: No Re-enactors!
FDR & Winnie
History Channel’s new series Race to Victory started off shakily in the second installment by suggesting that both Stalin and Roosevelt were surprised by the attacks on their countries. Putting the drunken bender of Stalin in line with philatelist FDR. It seemed bad taste, and outright preposterous.
The excellent photo footage is most remarkable in its selection and usage. The second episode began in early 1941 well before Pearl Harbor to show how much Churchill tried to entice FDR to give up isolationism and convince America to fight with the British Empire.
FDR was a capitalist against empires, and Churchill was the epitome of the colonial mentality. Though they met and personally liked each other, there was no agreement on this sticking point. And, both were reluctant to accept Stalin, but his massive country was important if they were to stop Hitler.
The series skips with balletic care the idea that Pearl Harbor was a deliberate set-up to bring America into the war. However, we know from our father, a Naval officer in the war, that he and others believed it firmly.
The end of 1941 was Hitler and Japan’s run to victory on both fronts. The Japanese immediately took hold of all the key ports of the Pacific, making America’s requirement for two fronts. It undercut Churchill’s plans for the US to fight strictly in Europe.
However, this compelling series manages to pull together extraordinary historical film and pictures to make this a a refreshing and powerful series that depicts the Big Three in ways you may not expect.
DATELINE: Original Big Three
In an age of re-enactors playing historical figures and onerous narrators, History Channel has gone against its own monster: we have World War II: Race to Victory, a three-part examination of the Big Three of the greatest war in history.
World War II: Race to Victoryis a throwback to the grand documentaries of CBS back in the 1950s and 1960s. It is purely informative and uses rare footage to enhance the lessons.
With a plethora of newsreels, photos, and historical documents, it seems that History is drawing on this goldmine of records, news films, and interviews. And, they are not colorizing the brilliant black and white footage.
The series starts with an examination of Winston Churchill and his nemesis Neville Chamberlain. On the same side, they were bitter opponents, but had to live with the other in their cabinets.
Churchill’s rhetoric still makes him transcend all others in the 20thcentury. His persuasive powers were made for an age when behind-the-scenes patricians ran the British government. And make no mistake, the Brits did not have a democracy in the American sense.
While Churchill uses his techniques to great advantage, he falls short with his counterparts: Franklin Roosevelt will not be drawn into the war before he was ready, and Josef Stalin didn’t believe anything Churchill told him.
If there is a revelation in the first episode, it is that Chamberlain’s appeasement was a misnomer. He was buying time for a country not ready for war; to Churchill, that meant nothing.
Race to Victory plays on the rivalries and mistrust among the original Big Three, and we hope future episodes are of the same high quality.
DATELINE: A Barrel of Lunacy?
We know that History Channel is utterly shameless in its promotion of other series on the channel. This week another show from the producers of the Oak Island treasure show will start their examination of Skinwalker Ranch.
So, of course, Ancient Aliens cannot let the opportunity pass without horning in on the sensation.
So, we have yet another hour-long commercial announcement for a new series from the producers of the Cure of Oak Island, and lo and behold, that old History Channel staple, Dr. Travis Taylor will be host.
UFOs. Weird creatures. Poisonous ground. “Disneyland of the Paranormal,” according to Giorgio. Skinwalker Ranch is named after an indigenous shaman who was Navajo. The natives were driven out in the 1860s by the U.S. military. Yep, we are talking about an evil force in the world. Not exactly the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Heavily armed guards take care of the property. It sounds like Area 52.
Of course, Skinwalkers are tricksters too. They shapeshift into something else or even invisible and interdimensional. There is rock art in the canyons to show creatures from another world. Many drawings show them coming out of vortexes.
It’s also known as UFO Alley, so we have here a smorgasbord of paranormal treats. Fireballs fly overhead. There are 100s of reports.
Others have seen a Dire Wolf, which has been extinct for 10,000 years, likely meaning time and space is traversed.
Another weird billionaire, Robert Bigelow, bought the place to support his ET searching efforts. He put surveillance everywhere, including security. He won’t reveal his findings.
Ancient Alienstheorizes that there are rips in the fabric of space, allowing odd and dangerous things to enter.
Are there underground space portal bases? Bigelow bailed for unknown reasons. Well, everything is there except the kitchen sink, but maybe the new series will show us that.
DATELINE: More of the Same Again!
$ Cash Down Logo!
To whet your appetite for season seven of the Curse of Oak Island, the series is beginning the season with early-bird specials. Fans cannot get enough of the Lagina Brothers and their motley crew of treasure hunters.
Tonight is a count-down of the group’s accomplishments over the past six seasons. And, you better believe they give credit to no one except themselves.
What have we got here? Well, it’s the same old wine in a semi-recycled bottle. Yes, the clever producers of the show have found yet another way to repeat, ad nauseum, the same events we have seen repeatedly, over six seasons.
Never let it be said that the Lagina brothers don’t know how to beat a dead horse. This is marketing at its most brazen. By packing the two-hours in the guise of a count-down, you have a way to introduce the show to new viewers. And, if you are an old hand, you should avoid these two hours, lest you are bored, bed-ridden, and/or your remote control is broken.
What’s more, the ever-irritating, fawning Matty Blake is your host, on the Lagina payroll.
To start, the show deals with 25 great discoveries over 220 years. So, you have to include all the historical data: like boys finding a hole and digging in pre-1800. You must include the reasons why Marty Lagina and Dan Blankenship had to move to Oak Island (after reading a Reader’s Digest article), and then you have to list the appearance of the Restall family, and on and on.
Forget those “bobby dazzlers” found by Gary Drayton. Those are at the end of the show.
What emerges of interest is the stuff the producers never think is interesting: like the fact that Oak Island is now a big tourist attraction, or that it has a money-making museum with unusual artifacts (TV props included).
You see throngs of tourists being led by some of the TV show personalities in walk-arounds. You begin then to see the mammoth scale of this money-maker for History Channel, and the Lagina family.
There is never a discussion of cost of security, or other requirements to protect the island. It must be steep: Oak Island is no longer a forgotten speck off the coast of Nova Scotia. You are looking at a Grand Canyon of Mysterious Tourist Traps.
DATELINE: Old Hat Re-lined?
Having the tenacity to stick with the weaker opening episodes, we found the series hit its stride in the third showing. Of course, yet another member of the “team” is introduced, a former Chief Petty Officer named Cahill.
We continue to question how and why Luis Elizondo was ever put in charge of a top-secret project at the Pentagon. It is a bigger mystery than the presence of forces more powerful than any country on Earth.
What’s more, we discover that the Trump evangelical generals in the Pentagon regard any investigation of UFOs as placating the demonic. Yes, they oppose any investigation on religious grounds. These people kept any reports from reaching General James Mattis who was Trump’s most respected Secretary until he wasn’t.
These guys are not exactly Annapolis types, and only Chris Mellon comes across as a true patrician and of a high rank in government.
This week they follow the UFOs to an isle about 150 miles off the coast of Mexico where they allegedly dived into the ocean. Talking to fishermen (with a translator) is interesting because universal whoosing noises and hand gestures speak volumes about describing the unknown, unidentified tic tac craft.
What is a bit of a shocker: Americans are not allowed on the island of Guadalupe because of its environmental protections! Hunh? Well, apparently, this location is one of the hotspots for great white sharks: more here than anywhere in the world. This surprises us as we thought the Australian Great Barrier Reef was their favorite spot.
A wildlife expert notes that the sharks come here because of magnetic anomalies near the island—perhaps caused by the submersed UFOs.
The show focuses on the Nimitz sightings from 2004, and its infamous video released by the Pentagon for reasons unfathomable.
DATELINE: New Series About Military UFO Video
Leave it to History Channel to find a new bottle for old wine. This is almost as funny as Leave It to Beaver 50 years ago. Each week we have a crisis in the universe with the bickering mid-life crisis teenagers as observers. Laugh till you cry.
You may not want to call them UFOs or USOs, because that is old hat. Today’s dudes of the Air Force hotshot top gun types call them “Tic Tacs” to use a dull metaphor.
It seems that shape wins the day. If you recall the past year, the Pentagon released a few videos about these aircraft and closed down a program that studied them.
The man in charge quit. His name is Luis Elizando, and now he is the main host of the series. So, he has found, like Stanton Friedman, a budding career for the rest of his life. Our first thought is why was this tattoo’ed military man in charge of anything, let alone an important secret project.
Well, the government also gave us Edward Snowden and Bob Lazar, so you needn’t think any more about it.
Two other notable men (team members as they call themselves) share the investigation honors. One is a former minor rock star from Blink 123, named Tom deLonge. The other is one Christopher Mellon (of the rich people in Carnegie-Mellon) who worked as an assistant undersecretary in the Defense Department (shades of Nick Pope with ready cash). We presume he is underwriting the programs.
The show spends some time introducing these men (there are seldom women, other than Linda Moulton Howe). They interview former service men and women. One is billed as a first open interview with the woman pilot in shadow. So much for truth in advertising. Another pilot is retired and ostensibly living in seclusion to hide from government agents.
All this leads us to hear one expert opine: it’s already too late. They’re here and they’re way beyond us. If they want to take over, they can in an instant.
There are four more episodes of this stuff, and we’ll be there.
DATELINE: Curses Again & Again!
Suspicious Hackley House!
Curse of Civil War Gold has become an off-shoot of Curse of Oak Island. It’s not even a spin-off, just a continuation like the other show History has developed, Digging Deeper on Oak Island. The formula of two middle-aged brothers on a quest is a gold mine.
If you have a hit show, you might as well milk it to high heaven. Kevin Dykstra may know this more than any of us. Whatever hostility he might have harbored to having his gold hunt show hijacked by Marty Lagina, has given way to obsequious sucking up.
This second episode had Dykstra asking people in his crew to step aside to let Alex Lagina look at the sonar findings under Lake Michigan. Yup, the bread is now buttered up.
We cannot fault Alex who is who he is: the youngest one on the series, and clearly the star with drawing power. So far, Gary Drayton has not made his appearance to bolster the Civil War Gold series.
A couple of thrusts dominated the second episode: there was the return to the lake, looking for a sunken box car that reportedly was witnessed by a nameless death bed lighthouse keeper. Okay.
The other angle was the continued character assassination of Charles Hackley, a banker and noted Victorian citizen of Michigan who is accused of evil and greedy wrong-doing.
This time the gang wants to prove he had a tunnel from his house to the bank to the railroad station. As they conclude, it was for the worst possible motive.
Who knows? These guys act as though they do.
The show’s high-point for us was when Alex insisted he must return to Oak Island because they are short-handed in Nova Scotia. This is after we witnessed 500 workers and heavy machine operators all season. Daddy Marty’s payroll is bursting at the seams.
The producer decision to abandon the first season approach for a sequel to Oak Island is not to be disparaged. It seems to be working out.
DATELINE: Sleeping Trillion Bucks
More gold and art treasures hidden by a rapacious Japanese general? Yes, and this time it’s somewhere on an island in the Philippines where nutcases go hand-in-hand with gold-diggers. We did not see any Laginas associated with this History channel’s latest example of a series bit by the Goldbug.
The first episode is called “Death on the Mountain.”
The optimists at History Channel are calling this Season 1. Or, perhaps they are pessimists who expect multiple season frustrations. In any case, the betting is that we will have hit the mother-lode of ratings. So, gold in the logo is running downhill like lava.
General Yamashita of the Emperor’s army buried all kinds of goodies with booby traps that only American experts can discover and disarm. Well, if that isn’t hubris, then what motivates the diggers on Oak Island?
Ostensibly, there is a trillion dollars in modern terms of loot. In the first episode, they do find a tunnel and poison gas bottles ready to crack open with a feather’s touch. Previous treasure hunters unwittingly set these off and died.
The Lost Gold of World War II has only been missing for 75 years or so, unlike the Oak Island treasure that clocks in at 200+ years. Yet, there is clear evidence that the Luzon treasure is priceless.
The hunters of loot are Americans of different generations and races, but lifelong seekers who seem to know about something most Americans never heard of. They insist Roosevelt, Truman, and Churchill, all knew about it, as does the CIA.
They locate a “witness” named Grandpa, for the obvious reason he is ancient. He is the parallel to the late Dan Blankenship of Oak Island: Grandpa is a witness who saw the activity as a boy in the 1940s. He points to dangerous expanse that might take ten seasons to traverse, which is great if the series is a hit.
We are indeed in the territory of one proverbial needle in a haystack. The island has nearly 200 reported treasure sites.
Old film clips are nicely colorized, and there is much history here to learn, and that makes this program at least worth additional attention.
Action is fairly fast-paced initially, with modern equipment and technology enhancing the search: the cast also has a researcher at Stanford, finding old maps and matching to satellite views of the terrain.
This series looks like a goodie! We are hooked already.
DATELINE: Faux History?
History Channel occasionally veers off the reservation of truly documentary-style films with re-enactors, to dabble in actual fictionalized history. Welcome to Fake History that brought you fake Vikings from 1000 fantasy years earlier.
Project Blue Book is some kind of docudrama about one of the government’s hacks, Dr. Alan Hynek, who was brought on to cover up UFO activity, but became (so they theorize) a true believer, not a debunker.
So the new series will show how this progressed as Hynek begins to lose faith with his monolithic government and its attempt to stifle information to the public.
In the first episode the most compelling moment was to show MJ-12, the secret government overseers, watching The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951. It’s the best scene in the movie from Robert Wise’s brilliant sci-fi classic. It could only go downhill from there.
A pilot of an aircraft claimed to have been in a dogfight with some kind of light force UFO. Well, you have some hotshot firing at will at something he cannot identify. Hmmm. This may be a series about idiocy.
If this is meant to be convincing truth from the annals of UFOlogy, then they have pulled a rabbit out of their anal area.
Hynek (Aiden Gillen) is paired with a young, handsome, all-military obstructionist co-star (Mike Malarkey). That’s compelling if you like ratings beefcake. We cannot fault the actors (Gillen of Game of Thrones and Malarkey of Dracula Diaries, both of whom play American in reel-life only). We will resist the urge to say this show is a bunch of Malarkey.
Neal McDonough is our favorite villain from Justified. Here he plays some kind of MJ-12 lackey. The stars surely deserve their paychecks from the government in script, or from the cable giant for on-air performing.
We are not sure that this mini-series can be sustained over the long haul, if that is even the intention of the producers. History Channel dabbles before diving into any new series, and this could take-off or it could be submerged into a USO.
We shall see if we will see another episode. There is no point in being hooked if History will leave us dangling. This limited series is scheduled for ten episodes.
DATELINE: Bring On Dr. Travis Taylor!
Gary & Peter.
We’re back to Oak Island with a two-hour extravaganza called “Rock Solid,” but there is quicksand everywhere as 2019 starts.
The million-dollar boondoggle at Smith’s Cove has sprung multiple leaks. Was this not foreseen? It’s so bad that the two nephews, Alex and Peter, are sent by Uncle Rick to go to the outside and use silicone sealant along the seams of the steel barrier. Young and dumb always wins the dirty work.
We saw that TV commercial where the guy sprays sealant on a screen glued to his boat bottom and he sails with the sharks visible underneath. Alex and Peter have to work quickly, lest the tide and time take them.
With Gary Drayton finding another hole filled with goodies, they bring back the drudge government archeologist Nivens, who immediately takes a garden trowel to the site. Come back in a few years to find out what’s there.
Alex Lagina and Charles Barkhouse return to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to look in an old business for the Rosetta Stone of the pirate treasure. Guess what? Two years ago they couldn’t find it in the dingy basement tunnels of a city business.
However, this time, eureka is not just a Latin word. The long-lost stone with odd hieroglyphs from the original dig has been located: 200 pounds that needs laser treatment to recover the messages once on its surface.
So, they called in the big gun: fresh off his series on History that was canceled about Nikola Tesla, the notable PhD star, Travis Taylor enters. He immediately shakes up the team with a new theory.
You never know what will eventuate when History Channel transports old stars to a new setting. Dr. Travis Taylor notes that the island is actually a star map—and blame those pesky Masons yet again.
We seem to be revving the engine for something in the coming weeks. Curse of Oak Island has never looked more promising.
DATELINE: Call him Zak, not Spock.
“I am not Spock.”
Leave it to History Channel to take a clever idea and run with it.
The old Leonard Nimoy series about oddities in the world has been revived. There is new wine in old bottles. In Search of… is back! Its first episode is called, “Aliens.”
Leonard Nimoy had won fame in the 1970s as Spock on Star Trek, so History went to the next generation: they have beamed up Zachary Quinto, the new Spock of Star Trek, to be narrator of the newly minted series. He will be far more hands-on and in person.
If you recall, Nimoy kept his face out of the old shows: relying on his marvelous voice. This new host will be in the picture.
For the first act of the first season: aliens.
Quinto is the executive producer of the series, which means he likely wanted to do interviews and try out various stunts. In the first show he goes to the top of a satellite dish and later is suspended by wires to parallel floating up into a spaceship.
Great stuff, but what hooked us were the interviews. The first man named Kyle claimed he was abducted by aliens since childhood.
Given a polygraph, he failed: he apologized, but this is not something you see. However, we were not impressed with this inarticulate and ungrammatical person. Why would aliens take him as an example of the human race?
The second person was a chemist with an implant he removed from his foot. He claimed it was made out of a meteorite, but testing was inconclusive. This also made the show a tad different shade of your usual ancient aliens on History Channel.
We’ll be back to see Zak, as he introduced himself to various people.
DATELINE: Tireless Wireless
Camera Shy Drew Eby
The Tesla Files continue with a second episode trying to locate dozens of lost trunks of experiments and notes. One expert has already questioned the show’s veracity, as the stuff was supposedly taken from Nikola Tesla’s storage facility upon his death in 1943 by agents unknown.
Dr. Travis Taylor, beau hunk of academia, and star of other cable adventure shows, including Ancient Aliens, exerts his formidable ginger presence and scholarly credentials to dominate this series.
Few of us with doctorates have a website with adoring fans, effusing over a ten-year old photo. Indeed, we are noted for posting a picture with our head in a bag with an eye hole. We won’t be hosting any History Channel documentaries. Our former students are loath to watch or to listen to our pontifications.
Taylor surrounds his investigation with fellow boyish assistants who look like former students. At least one, Drew Eby, will likely give Alex Lagina a run for hot supporting character in a limited series. As the show’s Vanna White, he pushes electrical buttons and lets the charge rip.
A secondary journalist/investigator goes to a local museum to learn that Tesla’s possessions went up for auction in 1906 for failure to pay his electric bill. Talk about poetic justice.
Upon locating a copper ball that allegedly sent out vibrations to ancient aliens, he discovers it likely is not genuine. It’s the stock-in-trade of shows like this: whet your appetite and feed you to the critics.
Meanwhile, we are intrigued with leaked material from unnamed sources, and name-dropping of Trump connections.
There are many colorized pictures of young Tesla, which may be worth the price of historical History Channel viewing.
We will continue to watch the series and wireless experiments on our wireless smartphone, to keep in the spirit of Tesla.