Friday, September 26, 2008

DESTINATION TRUTH: Ahool; Pinatubo Monster

SciFi Channel - Original Air Date: September 24, 2008

Java (Indonesia) & the Philipines are the destinations for Josh and crew this week as they look for the Ahool (a bat-like creature with a twelve foot wingspan) and the Pinatubo monster.  Their jeep breaks down in Java, but that and a quip from Ryder (again, very prominent in this episode) just add to the adventure.  Once in the outlands, Josh and crew talk to witnesses and look for the Ahool, which makes owl-like noises (and thus its name).  When the road is blocked they first hike and then swim upriver to search for the beast.  They hope to find the caves the monster purportedly lives in -- and of course they set up their excellent night-vision cameras.  They find the cave and it's filled with flying bats, which buzz Josh and Ryder.  After exploring the cave, they discover a strange, rusting scaffold-like structure ascending into the canopy.  Naturally, they decide to climb up it and see what they can see; it leads to a rope/cable bridge, which Josh begins to cross.  The bridge spans a river, but as Josh crosses, he's bitten by a spider and has to stop while the medics come to check him out.  Fortunately, it doesn't seem to be a deadly bite.  They encounter leeches and barely avoid vipers, too.  The taped sounds and video the crew has obtained turn out to be normal animals, but with difficult search conditions, it's hard to conclude that locals are just exaggerating their encounters.  Maybe the ahool is still out there, waiting to be discovered.

The Pinatubo monster is a serpent-like creature threatening locals and fisherman.  The beast is eight feet long and three feet wide and resembles a cross between a catfish and a shark.  Unfortunately, the local waters have been contaminated by mercury from a nearby defunct gold mine.  In addition the lake contains a town sunk by the volcano (PInatubo) and probably bodies as well.  (Starting to sound like a monster movie?)  Naturally, the crew plans to dive and look for the monster; so long as they don't drink the water, they should be okay.  They bring an impressive array of equipment with them, including an underwater camera, a fish finder, and a hydrophone.  Complicating the exploration is a local guerrilla group, which may harm our crew if they run into them.  Naturally, Josh and company brave the rebels and move to the far side of the lake to continue searching anyway.  Night sweeps with IR cameras and the sonar (during a thunder storm) follow.  Sonar picks up some large, serpentine hits right beneath the boat, and whatever it was scares off the small local fish.  The team then patrols the lakeshore, but fear of guerrillas eventually shuts down the search.  Examining the sonar record later shows the hits to be multiple creatures together, not a single large creature.  A US expert suggests that changes in the river and lake have changed the schooling habits of the local game fish, and these schools are creating the shadowy shape which suggest a lurking monster.

The adventure-like nature of this show, combined with the charm of Josh and the rest of his crew (including the ever-more prominent Ryder), help this show to remain highly entertaining even when they don't find monsters.  But, with enough concerted effort, perhaps they will someday find what they're looking for, and I'll keep watching until they do.

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