I have a love-hate relationship with alien/UFO shows on television. Some are credible and leave you pondering what is actually out there. Others make you want to grab a tin-foil helmet and lock yourself in the closet whilst sucking your thumb in a fetal position. Some of the old History Channel stuff was pretty good, such as UFO Files. Destination America even boasts Unsealed: Alien Files which can be a bit crazy but is actually entertaining. The show is only a half hour, so it’s over before you want to want to board the spaceship to Sinmorfitellia.
It has been a few years since the History Channel actually wanted anything to do with history. They swapped out serious programming for Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Swamp People, Ax Men, and the like a long time ago. However, their sister network H2 still remained with a tiny shred of credibility, as most history-oriented shows ended up on there, even the farcical Ancient Aliens—yes, that’s just how bad the History Channel became when that insanity ended up on the better of the two networks. With a line-up of reality garbage and rednecks, and seemingly anything but history, a recent article in TV Guide noted how much the network was struggling with ratings. They also announced that H2, beginning in February, will cease to exist, and be changed to a new network called Viceland. Any history programming that we have come to know will be gone, in favor of shows that better represent the current generation’s interests, which according to Deadline Hollywood, are as follows:
It aired in 2001 and maybe only a couple of times immediately after. Its not available on DVD, streaming, or even uploaded to YouTube. It was a simple episode of Al Roker’s old Food Network show Roker on the Road, where he visited historic Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts to give viewers a taste of what an 1830’s Thanksgiving would look like. As a 10 year old who was really into history, it captivated me. I recorded it onto VHS (remember those days?) and proceeded to watch it every year as a sort of tradition. Maybe five or six years ago, I had a friend burn it onto a DVD for me so that I may preserve it forever…and also use as a historical resource for when I teach. For all I know, I could have the only copy on this planet. Just last week, I showed it to the class I am currently interning in, and they enjoyed it. Even now, all these years later, it is not Thanksgiving in this house without a viewing. My love of history and food aside, it simply is just wonderful programming. You will learn plenty in this one hour show, and Roker’s goofy tongue-in-cheek humor will have you giggling from start to finish (with quips such as referring to ladies undergarments of the time as “Queen Victoria’s Secret”).
Read the rest at Greg’s new food blog by clicking here.
It appears that Destination America has taken it upon themselves to become television’s Ghost Channel. They already had a plethora of paranormal programming, and they are expanding even more by the week. Some of these are decent, while others are downright awful. This write-up is to give you the information you need to decide which shows you might want to try, and of course, which ones you should run away from screaming. Previous posts and reviews may not exactly be glowing, but not all the network has in store is atrocious. Continue reading below to find out more. All the shows mentioned have either aired in the last week or will air shortly.
I watched the Zapruder film 30 times the other day. Not the entire 26-second clip in its entirety, just focusing on the parts where President John F. Kennedy was visibly hit by bullets. I thought maybe after all these years, I would finally see something I never noticed. I took out a notebook and began writing things down. Before long, I had moved on to several lesser-known but equally important home-movies which documented the assassination in Dealey Plaza, the ones filmed by Marie Muchmore and Orville Nix. These films were shot almost opposite of where Abraham Zapruder was standing, so it helps to paint a more complete picture of what went down that fateful November morning. As I started jotting notes, I started to think to myself, “Why? What am I doing?”, and stopped the research. The reason is that there are just too many books, articles, documentaries and other research projects looking into the conspiracy aspects of the JFK assassination. Could a writing project of mine, if completed, actually add something new to the case? The answer is probably not.
No aliens, rednecks, rusty cars, Bigfoot, or swamp rats here. The Smithsonian Channel is giving us what the History Channel should be. It was a total joy when I finally started watching their programming last week, after hearing about how good it was for years. As I sat there, I thought to myself, “This is what the History Channel used to be like.” The types of shows ranged from World War II and early American history to more modern or current world historical events and even nature and science. After catching a two-hour special titled Hindenburg: The Untold Story, I was hooked. It was a dramatic recreation, combining newsreel and archive footage with reenactments and historian interviews. It was perfect—factual but entertaining, straightforward yet stylistic. The production values were extremely high and I began to wonder, “How hard can this be? Is it that difficult to churn out credible quality historical programming that people will find interesting?”
Thank God for Destination America, who never fails to impress me with the cheesiness surrounding their paranormal-related television shows. Examples being Amish Haunting and now, Ghost Asylum, where a team of red-neck hicks who make Deliverance look like an escape fantasy try to investigate haunted locations and trap the ghosts inside a special box. Well, if you thought that was all too much, just wait until this coming October 30th, when this network plans to air a live exorcism, creatively titled, Exorcism: Live! It will take place at the famous “Exorcist House” in St. Louis, where they will attempt to drive the demons out. We all know the story: in 1949, a young boy (whose name is still anonymous, and is referred to as either Roland Doe or Robbie Mannheim), claimed to be possessed and was exorcised by several Jesuit priests over the course of several weeks. The effort was exhausting and incredibly violent, but in the end, the boy was saved. The ensuing accounts of said exorcism would become legendary, and even provide the basis for William Peter Blatty’s landmark novel, and eventually, the groundbreaking film The Exorcist.
I bet you missed it, didn’t you? How lucky you are. As I sit down to write this, I am indeed still wondering if fortune smiled down upon me whilst I was looking through the channels for programs to DVR and saw an Ancient Aliens episode flip across the scene, and somewhere, my brain caught the words “Civil War”. Ha! I thought. It must have just been something else. That is how my eyes saw it. As I continued to scan, I decided to go back, and sure enough there was the episode from this latest season titled, “Aliens and the Civil War”. I gasped. I laughed. Then, I cried. I decided to save it for a later date so I could sit there, laptop in hand, and devote my entire attention to a minute-by-minute blog of what was going on during the show. It was in 2011 when I took this same approach, after stumbling on “Aliens and the Old West”. It was this episode which tried to argue that Harrison Ford’s newly released Cowboys and Aliens might be more fact than fiction. If you think that previous post and this one coming up now are all part of some gigantic, three-weeks-late, history-nut April Fool’s Day joke, you are wrong. These episodes really did air. You can catch them on re-runs.
When the History Channel comes out with a preview of their next production, I no longer get excited. Instead, I cringe. When I heard that they would be releasing a Texas and Alamo themed mini-series this May, my heart almost stopped, because of the soft spot I have for the Alamo story and how I knew it would be butchered by this studio. Boasting a cast consisting of Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Rob Morrow, and Kris Kristofferson, and directed by Roland Joffe, Texas Rising does not look as bad as I expected, but much worse. The series will cover the Texas Revolution and the formation and early years of the Texas Rangers. The Alamo siege and battle appears to only be slightly larger than a footnote, merely setting up the story, which is fine. However, in just a few fleeting glimpses of such scenes in the film, I am already mightily concerned about the historical accuracy of this production. After all, this was the network that gave us a documentary on Gettysburg and still managed to get things wrong, and in some cases, blatantly fabricate or exaggerate certain information. Now, we get to a project that contains creative license, and oh my, might as well come to expect a flying saucer to land in the Alamo’s courtyard.
And I’ve seen ’em all, or at least a few episodes of every one of these series which happens to blare across my television screen in the late afternoon hours as I try to get some time in on my exercise bike. It was by this chance misfortune that I am able to review Amish Haunting for you, the latest and greatest paranormal-themed show from that treasure trove of goodies that are not good enough to make the Discovery Channel. Yes, the graveyard of sub-par entertainment reality known as Destination America. In order for me to adequately describe Amish Haunting, I would need a thesaurus and a glass—no, a bottle—of Johnnie Walker Red. Especially if I had to watch an episode in its entirety, as the shows slaves away and harps on centuries old traditions of evil within the seemingly peaceful Amish culture, located mainly in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and parts of Ohio. This show, which comes on with a tour-de-force opening credits and disclaimer, giving it the illusion of being something groundbreaking, is a laughable mess that fails to scare, except by how terrifying the acting is. These are the ghost stories from within the Amish community, we are told. The ones you would not hear while sitting down for a $7.99 country breakfast at Diener’s Buffet in Ronks. The opening credits mention how such chilling tales have always existed, but only now are the Amish ready to tell their story! But wait, there’s more!