Sunday, October 30, 2011

FACT OR FAKED: UFO Crash Landing; Graveyard Ghost

SyFy - Original Air Date: 10/19/11

Fact or Faked is back for its third "season" with crew regulars Ben, Bill, Jael, Devin, Austin, and new member Lanisha (replacing fab photographer Chu Lan).  Videos not investigated are Alien Plant by a garden pool (obvious CGI) and Habitat for Humanity Ghost (likely spider inside the security camera housing).  That leaves the two they will investigate, which turn out to be a ghost case and a non-ghost case, a developing trend.

White Sands UFO seems to show a saucer-shaped object which comes down, ricochets off the ground, and then zooms back up before finally falling to the ground and exploding.  White sands is only 200 miles from Roswell, so there's a UFO connection there, too, and possible "back-engineered alien technology."  Ben, Devin, and Jael head to White Sands to talk to the filmmaker and observe the local area before setting up their experiments.  First they try a rocket engine alone, but it's way too wild for the controlled trajectory seen in the film.  Then they create a fake saucer and run it on guide wires with a special effects explosion to finish it.  Looks great, but the speed is too slow, and the bounce is pretty wobbly, because of the cable guiding system.  They then suggest the shape is merely the exhaust plume from a rocket hidden by speed and poor film quality -- and that ends up being a perfect match.  (It's amazing what blurry video/film will conceal.)  Maybe it's just me, with more than a half century of life experience, but that would have been my first guess.  Though I suppose they have to walk through the others to help convince non-believers (or, in this case, UFO believers).

Cemetery Ghost seems to show an white shape floating over the landscape near Tonopah Cemetary, an area reputedly haunted by miners slain in a nearby disaster.  Bill, Lanisha, and Austin head to the area to check it out, hear the legend of "Big Bill Murphy," who rescued miners before dying himself, and talk to the videographer.  Then they set up experiments, and, as a capper, do some "night investigation."  Naturally, during the investigation, their paranormal-catching equipment does strange things.  (You'd almost think it was designed to do so.)  And of course there are mysterious EVPs.  (Aren't there always?)  But disproving the video proves easy.  It's not a person with a light, their first guess, but their lens flare from highway traffic lights theory proves dead on the mark.  Of course, the show notes, this doesn't mean there are no ghosts, just as the first segment doesn't prove there are no UFOs.

And therein lies what I think is one of the show's innate faults: its audience is composed largely of people who want to believe.   So, if you want to keep them tuning in week after week, you can't constantly dash their hopes.  This, I think, sometimes hurts the show's investigative qualities, which can be quite good.  I wish they'd cut back on the ghost segments (Don't we have enough ghost hunt shows?) and concentrate on other weirdness.  Or, alternately, just be willing to stand up and call "Bullshit!" more of the time.  A new feature this season is a short "quiz" -- at a middle commercial break -- debunking popular videos.  This week the short is walking slippers in a cemetery. which was done with invisible wires or strings.  I like the short addition, as I miss when they debunked more videos at the start of the show.

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