Saturday, June 30, 2012

CHASING UFOS - Texas is for Sightings

NatGeo - Original Air Date: 6/29/12

Radiation scientist Ben McGee, tech and reconnaissance expert Erin Ryder ("Ryder" from Destination Truth), and UFOlogist James Fox form the team in this new UFO-hunting show.  The first episode starts in Stephenville, Texas, where they're investigating a (pretty fuzzy-looking) police officer's video showing a light in the sky.  Ryder describes herself as "Bad Cop," James as "Good Cop," and Ben declares that he's the "Other Bad Cop," which gives me initial hope this show may be more skeptical than the usual UFO shows -- where belief in aliens seems too often to be the first option.  The program features the usual witness interviews and re-creations (sadly including CGI UFOs -- though somewhat more sedate ones than are often depicted in shows like this), as well as artists' renditions, town-hall meetings (like Finding Bigfoot) and, of course, blurry videos of lights in a dark sky.  A 2008 video of a string of lights seems to correspond with many of the town hall reports, though it looks like military flares to me.  The team heads out into the countryside with a witness in tow to see what they can see (& film), and they all do the traditional "night investigation," tromping around in the dark.  They see a "mysterious" light; we'll see if they follow up.  (They don't.)

Then they talk to an ex-military man, Jonathan Alexander, who supposedly investigated UFOs and believes scientists should be able to study them openly.  He thinks something is there, but what it may be is a different question.  He does believe that mass hysteria plays a role in sightings, but the thinks Stephenville has a number of high-quality witnesses.  Then they set up an overflight by small planes in formation, which makes the aircraft look -- even in the day -- like one single object, but the planes are not silent at 4000 feet (as the UFOs are reported to be).  Then the team looks at a broad daylight saucer video from 3 months after the 2008 mass sighting.  The team is suspicious; it looks too good to be true.  James thinks the witness is credible.  Maybe, but I have issue with the fact that the show is giving us only teasing clips, not enough for context of the video(s) in question: How did it start?  How did it end?  Would you, as a witness, stop filming what's clearly a flying saucer after a few minutes?  Did the video go until the the thing vanished?  They don't say and don't show us.

Next up, another witness who observed (though a gunsight) a craft above him large enough to "land an aircraft on," and then some local library research.  An 1891 newspaper article describes lights in the sky followed by an object/meteor exploding 300 feet in the sky showering the area with bits of metal that set small fires.  So they go looking for evidence of that crash/explosion -- at night, which makes no sense.  (But all these shows seem to need 2 night investigations.)  And they spot something that looks like a flying saucer.  But are they being punk'd?  Maybe after the break, they'll tell us... But they don't.  This part of the episode reveals that Ryder is a "skeliver" -- a skeptic and a believer combined, so the team has one believer, one skeptic, and one in between (though she seems to be leaning toward believer to me).  And that's how this episode shakes out, with all of our team still where they started: one convinced, on unconvinced, and one leaning toward convinced.

Overall, not a bad show.  It's basically Hunting Bigfoot with UFOs, and has many of the same issues/flaws.  The cast is likable, but the science not rigorous enough. I'd have liked to know if they checked flight patterns and military records for any of the sightings.  And, as I said at the top, I wanted to see all the videos in context, with start and stop points (you can time lapse the boring parts).

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