Saturday, March 28, 2009

MONSTERQUEST: Monster Close Encounters

History Channel - Original Air Date: 3/25/09

Yes, it's another MQ bigfoot show, and yes, we've got Loren Coleman as an on-camera expert again.  There are plenty of eyewitness stories, including one of a car that hit a bigfoot and two people who then shot at it.  The MQ team investigates the damaged car and looks for the wounded creature, though a local naturalist says a bear is the only possible suspect.  They find some broken branches, and a bullet in the tree -- hoping that it may have passed through the creature before being lodged in the wood. Another man claims to have nearly hit a bigfoot on a busy highway -- a sighting confirmed by other witnesses.  Another attack on a car is blamed on The Lizard Man, though Coleman believes it may have been a moss or algae-covered bigfoot.  They take samples there, too, and decide to recreate the jaws that left the bite marks on the car.  Another man claims to have nearly shot a bigfoot while hunting, while a younger man claims to have been grabbed through the window of a truck while out spotlighting deer.  Both these people are polygraphed.  The hunter passes the test; the grabbed man does not.  Bite tests suggest that it woudl have taken 350 pounds of force to bite through a car fender this way -- a strength and attac mode suggestive of a dog.  A primate, one expert says, would have pounded the car, not bitten -- and that's what hapened in the other case.  The hair sample (claimed from the bumper) of that car yields nothing; neither does the bullet dug from the tree.  Coleman claims that such encounters are becoming more frequent, and predicts that within 25 years, someone will be killed in such an incident.  While the stories here are interesting, more than the usual MQ bigfoot show, they -- once again -- present no actual proof.

UFO HUNTERS - Underground Alien Bases

History Channel - Original Air Date: 3/25/09

Bill, Pat, and new semi-skeptic Kevin investigate rumors of  an underground base, possibly alien or collaborating with aliens, in Dulce, New Mexico.  Kevin points out that they don't even know there's an underground base in the area -- never mind a strange & sinister one -- and just determining if there is a base would be good place to start.  Naturally, there are "investigators" on site already convinced of both the base and the alien conspiracy.  These people tell stories about aliens taking over the base and invading flying saucers that sound more like a video game backstory than reality.  While Pat and Kevin talk to a native american who claims to have seen a UFO as big as three football fields in the area -- which is a well-known UFO base -- Bill talks to someone in Vegas about the "Dulce Papers," which claim there is a 7-level alien/human genetics experiment lab under a local mesa.  That person has sketches of experiments supposedly drawn from photographs.  The more "experts" the team talks to, the wilder and more video-game like the story becomes.  When the stories devolve into crossing humans and animals, even Pat becomes skeptical (but not Bill).  The expert also claims that a huge network of undergrount tunnels and shuttles webs the area.  Cattle mutilations enter the picture, and a local sherrif says that the cows eren't killed by ET, but by military exercises -- and he has pictures of unmarked helicopters as "proof."  He also has a picture of a "creature" incubated in a (now dead) cow.  But the "human-shaped" head on the picture doesn't look like a hybrid to Pat (or me).  A geologist says that the mesa in Dulce is big enough to hold a 4-mile-wide base, but some strata of rock would not be self-supporting.  The team hires a guide and goes to the mesa top looking for vents, but finds only TV station repeater antennae.  The guide says he knows there's 14 miles of tunnels under the mesa, but he refuses to show the team where their exits are.  Since this is all on a reservation, the team doesn't press for more tangible info.  (The entire area seems a hotbed for alien-tunnel-UFO folklore.)  The team then visits the Greenbrier former secret government fallout shelter in White Sulfer Springs, WV -- just to prove secret underground bases can exist.  And while the base is impressive, there's still no tangible evidence for the stories centering around the huge mesa in Dulce.  Bill, though, believes every word of every story.  As usual, this show gathers pieces of many differnt stories and then tries -- unconvincingly -- to tie them into one alien-conspiracy whole.  But there remains no tangible proof.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

UFO HUNTERS - Giant Triangles

History Channel - Original Air Date: 3/18/09

The crew adds a new member and investigates numerous reports of huge, flying triangles seen all over the world -- and especially in California.  They have the usual witness interviews, two of which are fairly impressive, and the usual grainy films of lights in the sky (though this time, one of the shots is in daylight).  The thing that makes this episode of UH more interesting is the addition of new, more skeptical crew member, Kevin.  Like me, Kevin sometimes rolls his eyes at Bill's wilder theories, and, unlike the other team members, even challenges some of them as outlandish.  Among the outlandish theories this week: aliens and the government are building UFOs together (or at least the government is back-engineering UFOs), UFOs are attracted to the gold in the California hills, and triangular aircraft have been seen in American skies back to pre-Columbian times.  (Though really these are not theories, they are hypotheses, or maybe suppositions.)  Part of the "proof" of this last supposition is the supposed delta-wing sculptures made by pre-Columbian artists.  One UFOlogist "expert" contends that the theory that these tiny sculptures were birds or insects is absurd because of the anatomy.  Two points from a former A+ student of art history on this: 1) artistic anatomy is frequently inaccurate to life; just look any given set of Egyptian tomb paintings, or the Venus of Willendorf, or the works of Henry Moore (to name very few), 2) I seem to remember that some art expert claimed that these decorative creatures might be fish, which is what they look like to me: stylized fish. The anatomy fits.  Further, I'll suggest that some research on the art of the people who produced these artifacts will likely reveal how stylized their art was; if they were doing human sculptures like Michelangelo and then these "aircraft," well...  Then maybe we have a case for accurate representation of flying machines on the tiny sculptures.  But, I doubt that's what you'd turn up in the art of these people.  (Enough art history lesson.)  An analysis of the daylight footage seems to prove the three lights seen are connected, though the show people don't seem to see the same level of "blooming effect" that I do (which makes areas outside of bright lights darker in video pictures).  They find nothing unusual checking gold mines for evidence of alien mining.  (Surprise.)  Then they fly a model of the pre-Columbian "aircraft" and it glides -- a little bit.  However, despite the model maker's insistence that he changed "nothing" in making his model, I don't see any of the bumps or ridges, or other "design elements" on the real item.  So, it's accurate exept the parts we don't like?  Despite what Bill says, it is not an exact replica; Kevin posits that it may be a replica of a flying toy of the time (like an Aztec paper airplane).  The rest of the team rejects this, and to me it still looks like a flying fish.  Yet, as the show points out, people are seeing strange triangular craft all over the world.  Personally, I favor Kevin's theory of secret government aircraft.  Remember the Blackbird is 50 years old, folks.  If they could make that then, what can they make now?

Sunday, March 22, 2009


History Channel - Original Air Date: 3/18/09

Does the giant shark megalodon survive in the Sea of Cortes between Mexico and Baja California?  The locals claim to see a larger predator they call the Black Demon, a shark of gigantic size -- perhaps even "as big as a school bus."  MQ sends out the usual Sea of Cortes crew (from the squid and giant octopus episodes) to look for it.  They plan to use airplanes for scouting and actually dive into the surf if they see the monster.  White sharks live here, but is there anything larger?  Could a supposedly extinct beast exist in the sea's deep trenches?  The team tries to find spots where big predators feed, and hopes to dive on any targets they find.  Fishermen tell tales of having their boats hit by something large and unseen, perhaps a big shark.  The team spots some prospects, but by the time they get into the water, their targets are gone.  They do eventually find a whale shark, and conclude that misidentification of such creatures is likely responsible for most local legends.  A meg tooth supposed to be only 10,000 years old proves untestable for age.

While they don't find what they were looking for, the team does some pretty good science in this episode.  It's nice to see the sea-going monster hunters again, and it's nice not to be watching another MQ bigfoot show.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MONSTERQUEST: Snowbeast Slaughter

History Channel -- Original Air Date - 3/11/09

People believe that a strange creature that slaughters animals is wandering the mountains of Colorado.  (Yes, it's another bigfoot-by-another-name MQ show.)  Stories date back to the 1800s, but wildlife expert Bill Heicher believes that if such creatures were real, they would leave tangible signs -- and none have turned up.  Sightings seem to center near Pike's Peak, including yeti-like tracks in the snow.  MQ sends a team to conduct an aerial search, and a ground team, too.  They also run computer analysis of the sightings to pick a likely place and time to search, and then set up the usual camera traps (including an infrared).  The show recounts eyewitness sightings, including one witness, former military, who says the creature rose up out of a beaver pond 200 yards away from him, and another man who photographed (fake looking) tracks.  A third witness believes his horses were mauled by the creature.  One expert says that he's seen images of tracks that could only be from some unknown animal -- or fake.  He quickly identifies the snow tracks as common animals.  He's not sure about the track in the dirt (which looks fake to me), and an experiment suggests that to make a print that deep, the creature woudl have had to weigh more than the largerst bear every found in Colorado.  But, the traps and helicopters turn up nothing, and thus we finish another monster-free MonsterQuest.

UFO HUNTERS - Area 51 Revealed

History Channel - Original Air Date: 2/25/09

For years, people have been seeing strange things at the Groom Lake test site, also known as Area 51.  Since the 1950s U2 program, secret testing has gone on here.  The base is off limits, and the area around it patrolled by armed guards, but the UH team hopes to get a peek inside using new, high-resolution cameras.  Is this merely a secret military base, or are they back-engineering captured UFOs here?  The show recaps the well-known history of Area 51, and pokes around the area until they are overflown by F15s -- at which point they figure they've been spotted, and will see no more strange things today.  The show mentions Bob Lazare, believed by many (including Stanton Friedman) to be a fraud, though Bob claimed to have worked on UFOs in Area 51.  John Weir, a former-pilot friend of Lazare's, says that Lazare took him to see UFOs over Area 51.  Under the watch of the military, the team pokes around the edges of the base, and then takes up position 26 miles away to watch.  In a "television first," they then show pictures of the base and airstrip that, while clear, look similar to other pix seen on such shows.  They also see a Janet Airline plane bringing workers into the base and spot a new warehouse/hangar amid the complex.  A former base worker says that when you worked there, you "didn't exist" (which the show suggests is confirmation of Lazare's intimation that the government is trying to erase his existence).  The worker also says that if you weren't working on a particular project, you didn't know anything about it.  Meanwhile, cameras set up on the outskirts of Area 51 have captured some odd lights at night, which "blink off" as they get close to the base.  Using calculations, Ted (the scientist in the team) claims the light was moving at least 3600 miles per hour.  Only the X15 is known to have flown so fast -- and the X15 has been mothballed since the end of the 1960s. But, though the show speculates nearly endlessly, they shed no new light on what's actually happening at Area 51.  (It seems likely to be "merely" a top secret testing base, to me.)

UFO HUNTERS - Alien Crashes

History Channel -- Original Air Date - 2/18/09

IN 2008, a California rancher spots a turquoise fireball near Needles, followed by 5 unmarked helicopters.  The military copters pick something up with their sky-crane and leave with the thing, as it continues burning.  The team goes out and looks for the crash site and talks to eyewitnesses.  Witnesses say it looked like a fireball, and ever since it fell white planes with red markings -- Janet Airlines -- have been flying over the area; Janet Airlines serves Area 51.  The military denies knowing anything, but one witness suggests it was a test gone out of control -- and, indeed, Needles is in the midst of several military testing bases.  The show compares the crash to Roswell and interviews a witness named Bob, who tells what he saw of the crash while boating on the river.  The team follows the man's lead to the alleged crash site.  They find a cleared area, but it's not burned and too old to be the crash.  Another witness claims to have been visited by government MIB.  The investigators then recap the Kecksburg UFO encounter, and compare it to this new situation.  They also send some team members to look for evidence in Kecksburg.  They sweep the area with metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar, but turn up no new clues (just eyewitness stories).  Back in Needles, a reporter claims the helicopters belonged to the NightStalker military operations group (task force 160), and people he spoke to claimed the federal agents (MIB?) who came to investigate the incident and had connections to nuclear weapons transportation.  Was this come kind of nuclear-powered experimental weapon?  The show's connections of this case to Keksburg and Cash-Landrum are intruiging, but, in the end, they turn up no solid evidence.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

MONSTERQUEST: Gators in the Sewer

History Channel - Original Air date: 3/4/09

Everybody knows the stories of alligators in the sewers of New York City.  The stories stretch back to the 1930s and earlier, and this show relates several colorful stories from those times.  Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman suggests that the NYC authorities may be covering up the gators' existence.  The show puts together an expedition with the usual trackers, cameras, remote robots, and even a lure that makes noises like a baby gator.  The show also details numerous eyewitness reports of gator attacks, and shows a capture a of a rogue gator in the south.  The MQ investigators turn up nothing (surprise, surprise), though the show believes it has proved there is enough food and warmth in the sewers for gators to survive.  They do, however, turn up a (not so) scary salamander.  Again, if you're looking for info on this urban legend, this show is a good primer.  If you're looking for monsters, look elsewhere.