The only thing more prevalent on television nowadays than sexual innuendo is stupidity, or in the case of the History Channel, irrelevance…or maybe both? Just when you thought the network may have been turning over a new leaf with scripted dramas such as The Bible and Vikings, and a powerful documentary series, The Men Who Built America, which I find myself wholeheartedly enjoying, the History Channel has gone back to its recent roots of trying to scrounge up the most ridiculous concept not even worthy of a time slot on TLC (remember when that actually used to stand for The Learning Channel?) and turn it into a regular series. If you thought Swamp People was bad, then you are just going to love Chasing Tail, which is, you guessed it, a show about deer hunting, that starts this April! But that would be too simple, wouldn’t it? To be more specific, it is about a group of “blue-collar” hunters in suburban Connecticut who are paid by the wealthy to kill the surplus of deer in the area who wander on to their property—the synopsis for the second episode has them shooting deer from the back deck of a mansion. The one thing this show has going for it, though, is that the “hunters” actually have all their teeth, and appear to be keeping their shirts on for the duration of the show, or at least as far as I could tell in the tiny preview I saw air a few days ago. Of course, my first thought was how is this history? But then I recollected their lineup of regular shows, which includes American Pickers, American Restoration, Ax Men, Big Rig Bounty Hunters, Counting Cars, Pawn Stars, Swamp People, Top Gear, and Ultimate Soldier Challenge, and I didn’t feel so lost.
I’m not even going to bother sliding into my regular shtick about how far the network has fallen, or how I would take the 24/7 Hitler and Nazi Germany program broadcasting of the 90′s any day over this garbage, because it is a fruitless effort. Apparently, I am in the minority when it comes to opinion on programming. I guess I should feel silly for wanting the History Channel to stop putting on shows where toothless red-necks blast alligator brains out with shotguns and then jump up and down in their little boats hootin’ n’ hollerin’ with unintelligible grunts like they just won the lottery. I am amazed, after seeing shows like that, at how surprised people from the Deep South are when they are looked at as being backwards hicks. Do not blame northern ignorance, my friends, blame the media and popular culture that has turned your society into a hole of filth and slime. At least Chasing Tail is going to do something to repair the damage done: it will show that northerners can be hicks too!
I do not know what is even left anymore. H2 used to always be the safe haven when the History Channel started going to hell, but even that is being corrupted with asinine, pseudo-historical shows like America Unearthed, where the host, Scott Wolter, can make an entire episode centered around a microscopic carving on a rock and lead the viewer on a baseless quest around the country to misrepresent far-reaching theories as fact, and then find absolutely no concrete evidence to back anything up. This show, in format and principle, is identical to Ancient Aliens. The latter attempts to say that everything the ancients built on earth was really built by aliens, while the former attempts to say that everything ancient Americans built on this continent was really built by foreigners. Is there a difference? I acknowledge that the history books are wrong and there is more than meets the eye, but without actual evidence, the shows are absolutely useless. Maybe if I carved a cross onto the tree in my backyard I could get the crew to come down to try to prove that the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in Hazlet, New Jersey. Maybe if I find a really big squirrel climbing that same tree I can get Monsterquest to come out of retirement and have a double whammy!
Do you want to know the sad part in all of this? Shows like Swamp People, Chasing Tail, and Ax Men are actually less damaging than shows like America Unearthed. Why? Because even though they are not history, they are also not attempting to prove anything. It’s just like, “Hey guys, we’re full of crap and how do ya like that?!”, whereas the other shows intentionally prey on the paranoid and fanciful in an attempt to sell them “facts” that really do not exist. Is that what television has become? If so, then maybe the History Channel has the right idea after all.