First off, let’s begin by remembering that the next three days are a very important part of our nation’s history, as it is the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. So how does the History Channel decide to commemorate this event today? An all-day marathon of those two giggling fools on American Pickers. But rest assured! H2 is picking up the ball and running into the end-zone by re-broadcasting the Emmy-winning, cringe-inducing masterwork of lunacy, Gettysburg, from 2011, which was excoriated by every single historian on the planet…except those who worked as historical advisers on the project. This wonderful documentary, which ignores Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Little Round Top entirely, as well as illustrates a relatively unknown Confederate general, Joe Davis, leading Pickett’s Charge all by himself, was so atrociously bad that the only reason people like myself even watched the whole thing was so that we could write about it the next day. And who could forget the narrator pronouncing Morse Code as “Morris” Code, and General Barksdale’s jet-black, Elvis-like sideburns? Civil War mayhem aside, what else is going on with our beloved History networks? Keep on reading to find out!
- Well, I finally got a chance to catch an episode of the highly advertised All You Can Eat, a brand-new series on H2, which is supposed to take a more lighthearted approach at exploring the history of American foods. Being that the History Channel has actually produced very good food-related shows in the past, such as Food Tech and certain episodes of Modern Marvels, I was excited for this one, even though the host seemed a little annoying in the commercials. As it turns out, I was wrong. John Pinette, the host of All You Can Eat is not a little annoying, he is unbearably annoying. The series, which is a good idea, in theory, decides to go the route of Tosh.0, in cutting back and forth between video clips and a host standing in front of a green screen with a small monitor up to the side. Only problem is, Tosh.0 is funny, this show is not, though it tries very hard to be. Pinette’s jokes, hard-forced one-liners, colorful observations, and mannerisms are almost painful to watch (made even worse by the fake laugh track that cackles each and every time he says something stupid). One can easily gather that he has built a career, for lack of a better word, out of being a frustrated comedian. Maybe some people enjoy his type of its-so-bad-its-actually-funny humor, but I do not. Fact is, the video footage of food production and interviews with factory workers and chefs in their restaurants was actually very interesting (especially the segment on macaroni and cheese pizza), but by the time it goes back to Pinette and one of his stupid blurts, we forget all about it. The only thing this show has going for it is that it is only a half hour, meaning you won’t be watching long enough to develop suicidal thoughts or destroy your television. I want a food show here, maybe a little bit of history thrown in, not a stand-up routine befitting that of a first rehearsal of new, poorly written material. If I want to waste my night on bad comedy, I’ll watch Jimmy Fallon instead.
- Speaking of food shows, is it just me or are their just too many of them? Isn’t Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives really all we need? Even though Guy Fieri can get annoying and repetitive, that show still became the current model for how food shows should be formatted. All You Can Eat attempted to mix in a little bit of it and failed, because only a certain type of host, one with an actual personality who lets the guests do the talking, can pull it off. Al Roker also did an excellent job with the same type of thing for Roker on the Road. Then we have food history shows, another type of mini-genre which All You Can Eat failed at. Modern Marvels (of which they used stock footage from) was again, all we needed. Food Tech, hosted by Bobby Bognar a few years ago, also did a great job, because Bobby was a genuinely nice guy who never encroached too much, nor did he try to steal the spotlight from the food at hand. He was what he was supposed to be: the host, not the star. It is a very fine line, and Pinette has bumbled all over it.
- Now for some [hopefully] good news: did anyone else catch an ad for a new show coming to H2 titled Haunted History? Could it be that the series of the same name, which ran from 1999-2002 (nearly 30 episodes) is coming back in a more updated rendition? In case you never saw an episode of the original, let me tell you that it was just the perfect show for lovers of both history and ghosts. The chilling voice of narrator John Glover helped us delve deep into the myths and legends surrounding both private homes and major historic sites, in episodes broken down by city or region (e.g. Gettysburg, Baltimore, Hawaii, Caribbean, London, etc, etc). It was a program, with both tours, reenactments of events, and interviews with witnesses and historians that completely avoided the cheesiness that current shows suffer from. The way the ghost stories were illustrated and told to us were done in a very tasteful, believable way—even non-“ghosties” could watch and enjoy it because of the amount of information and history present. While the special effects may be a little mundane and dated today, content-wise, Haunted History still maintains solid integrity, and I watch as many re-runs as I can, because they take me back to when I was little, when the show actually scared me. Is it possible that they are bringing it back with the same style and format? I certainly hope so, because it is about time that a ghost-related show will actually have some degree of respect to the paranormal field, not turning it into an unbelievable spectacle.
- As a ghost hunter, I am very finicky about the types of paranormal shows I watch on television, which means that I hardly watch any of them. This is because very rarely do I actually see something that is believable. Whether it is a reenactment of a ghost story where there are demons or a type of demonic possession involved, or a reality-based ghost hunting show where they get a plethora of audible EVP’s, video evidence, and physical contact with ghosts, I just sit there in awe that people actually fall for these shows. As a veteran of more than 50 investigations, I can say that most have never been anything like these shows…ever! The fact that they can take a muddled recording of a supposed ghostly voice and then try to convince you that it is the spirit of Abe Lincoln reciting the Gettysburg Address is insulting, and mind-boggling that people actually believe it! And how come every time something major happens, like a “ghost” pushing or attacking a crew member, it always happens in the fleeting seconds before a commercial break? Very convenient, isn’t it? Destination Truth and Ghost Lab (a.k.a, dumb and dumber) are very guilty of this, and then there are reenactment-based shows like A Haunting, where every story involves a sinister demonic presence or exorcism—how utterly ridiculous! At least Destination Truth is entertaining, though, even if they are hacking their way through an Asian jungle searching for “tree people” or other monsters. Hey, it keeps me watching, but I just want them to know that I don’t believe any of it. As for the other shows? I’ll pass, including the now super-boring, desperately-faked Ghost Hunters, which I believe used to be a credible show, when they first aired. And don’t even let me get started on the psychic-based shows which are mounting by the season. Is there anyone more annoying on television than the Long Island Medium? Sure there is: the cast of Jersey Shore, but at least they don’t take themselves seriously. Again, it angers me at how stupid people are, and how easily they can be sucked into believing that this lady is seeing things around her (unless she’s on acid). While we’re at it, we might as well rename BIO “The Ghost Channel”.
- And here’s a piece of advice for anyone starting up a new “ghost hunting” show: when in doubt, have your ear flicked. That seems to be the most popular form of physical contact with spirits. Whenever you go to a location and find absolutely nothing, tout something that no one can prove or disprove. As an added bonus for excitement, throw yourself down a flight of stairs. The bright side if you don’t survive? You may become a ghost yourself!