Thursday, September 11, 2008

DESTINATION TRUTH - Orang Pendek - Worm Monster

SciFi Channel - Original Air Date: 9/10/08

Josh and crew go to Indonesia and Iceland (must be "I"-country week) to look for "bigfoot's shorter cousin" and a legendary lake monster.  Josh has 3D monster-making software this year, and they put descriptions into it to come up with a composite of what they're looking for.  The Orang Pendek is widely believed to be real by Indonesian locals, and the team strikes out into the national parks to find it.  Josh hooks up with National Geographic scientist Alex Schlegel who is on a two-year assignment to search for the creature and believes it is probably real.  Other local scientists and researchers agree.  The group heads into the forest and sets up their cameras; this time, they're searching during the day, and even leave out some fruit as bait.  At night, they spot some animal eyes, but can't track the creature down.  Later, they spot what may be a big cat, and nearly tangle with a big snake.  Sadly, scat samples collected belong to river otters.  Eyeshine videos prove inconclusive, but Josh remains hopeful the orang pendek may be out there.

Next, they go to Iceland to look for the legendary dangerous Lake Lagarfljot worm -- which appears as a lamprey-like serpent and lives in a frigid, 20-mile long lake.  The lake is landlocked, with no exits for a large animal and has a small population of salmon and fish.  Locals describe "humps in the water" and have been seeing the beast since 1345.  Despite this, the lake remains amazingly free from scientific inquiry about the monster.  Squeezing into tiny, Icelandic dry suits, the guys reconnoiter the boat-free lake; once they get a way from shore, the sediment becomes a dense cloud and the conditions dangerous to dive in.  That night, they set up cameras on shore and head out onto the lake to search.  Fog rolls in and the boat is left on its own in the middle of the lake, lost in the mist.  They're freezing and can't tell which shore they came from.  Without their walkie-talkies, they'd be screwed.  As Josh tries to figure out where his team is, something big appears moving through the water.  They estimate it to be 60' away and 30' long, and it makes a huge wake.  One team member declares it looks like a "f*ing worm."  Josh says it was one of the "craziest things I've ever seen."  After being lost for 6 frigid hours, Josh & co. find base camp and return home.  An expert says no known fish in this area could have made such a wake.  Unfortunately, terrible filming conditions make for a nearly useless bit of film evidence.  (They don't even try to enhance it.)  Josh concludes that the lake's freezing water and pitch black depths will make it difficult to study this alleged creature.

Watching the first part of this episode, it occured to me that they ought to send Josh to that bigfoot cabin from MonsterQuest; certainly he wouldn't have stayed inside with the rock throwers outside.  It also occurs to me that it might be worth the trouble for National Geographic (or someone) to send Josh's well-equipped and intrepid team on a longer expedition for some of these creatures.  Perhaps with more time they might find more than traces.  Whether they get longer shows with more funding or not, I'll happily watch this show until they run out of monsters -- or until Josh gets himself killed in some adventurous way.


Anonymous said...

It is gratifying to read someone who also appreciates Josh Gates and his intrepid team. I totally agree with you that they are good enough to receive some serious funding for extended research.

Josh & Company would have done a much better job then the Monsterquest team at that cabin in Canada. To me, the latter seemed almost too frightened to have done a decent job of it.

Anyway, great review and stay tuned for more episodes in 2009!

Sharon Hutchinson

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

Thanks for the kind word, Sharon. I've enjoyed all the DT shows to date and expect to continue doing so next season. I think the difference between the Gates team and some of the other investigators is like the difference between the two teams on Storm Chasers this season: one team is heavily scientific, but slow-moving and unimaginative -- the other (like Gates) is fast-moving and adaptable. Fast-moving, adaptable teams tend to get better results. (Or at least they have better video editors.) If their results are not as scientific, at least they tend to bring back more video/information. And maybe that's where cryptozoology should be headed.