Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Wednesday Night -- Time for "MonsterQuest" on History Channel!

For lovers of all things cryptozoological, Wednesday night means the tremendously entertaining MonsterQuest on History Channel. Now in its second season, MQ is consistently fascinating, sometimes amusing, and most definitely mysterious. Open-minded but not slavishly toeing the "these are real" line, MonsterQuest intrigues us through the use of studious scientific technique brought to bear against the mythic creatures of which legends are made.

Tonight's new episode is at 9pm ET, with "Snowbeast Slaughter" -- an investigation into stories of a large hairy creature which has been sighted in the Rockies. It's preceded by a repeat of the "Jersey Devil" episode, another chilling hunt for the truth behind longstanding accounts of a frightening winged creature seen in and around New Jersey.

At 10pm, MonsterQuest is followed by two hours of the equally excellent UFO Hunters, starring a trio of smart and personable UFO investigators who painstakingly look into the circumstances of assorted UFO reports. The three guys -- Bill Birnes, Ted Acworth, and Bill Uskert -- are wonderful and uniformly smart, and this show is always riveting. Whether or not you believe or even tolerate discussion about UFOs, it's a delight to watch three intelligent and curious men applying their brains to help us understand this baffling phenomenon. I love these guys.

I'm completely hooked on shows where smart people talk about what they know, and there are plenty of them out there right now. We're lucky that networks such as History Channel, History Channel International, Science Channel, National Geographic and others offer ample air time to scientists and their always beguiling truths. These networks have managed to pepper the science with just the right amount of excitement to make the perfect viewing experience, engaging the audience on all cylinders.

History's new series How The Earth Was Made (it premiered last month, and is an offshoot of a special from last year) airs on Tuesday nights and it's incredible. To quote their website, the series "...travels the world to reveal the geological processes that have shaped our planet." Every episode is completely engrossing from start to finish and it's become one of my favorites. Also a must-see is Mega Disasters, also on History and its sister stations, with its heartpounding assortment of Mother Nature's best attempts to beat the human race down. (There are three episodes of MD airing tonight on History Channel International starting at 8p, btw.)

I know it's asking a lot for some people to turn away from crime dramas and reality shows and chef competitions to watch a documentary, but if there is an iota of curiousity in you about the world around you, you will be hooked, too.

My only carp about History Channel right now is the show Ax Men. Maybe it's just me, and I realize it's a dangerous occupation, but the idea of watching men wielding chainsaws to beautiful forests rather turns my stomach. (For a truly wonderful account of loggers, try watching the movie Sometimes a Great Notion with Paul Newman. At least it's art.) I shudder to think of what macho-man occupation will be glorified next -- maybe a series about the guys who bash in the heads of seals up in Newfoundland? Or maybe the guys who stun-gun the cattle before they hit the slaughterhouse? I also realize that I sound like a tree-hugger here, but featuring loggers as heroes seems an odd choice when everybody's trying to go green, already.

But don't let that stop you from watching everything else that's amazing on History Channel!


Jane said...

Madam you are entirely correct in your stance against Ax Men. I hate chainsaws and any machines (motorcycles, snow mobiles) that disturb the pristene silence of nature. However, I would like to remind you that one of the funniest words we ever played in that crazy dictionary game was "Kennebunker" which was a word for a lumberjack's purse. I am sorry to say that the word is no longer in the Dictionary, but you can find it tied to a number of places in Maine if you do a Yahoo search.

---Jane "Tree Hugger and Kisser and Proud of It" C.

amy said...

I love the history channel and have seen all these great shows except MonsterQuest. Boy, I'll have to be sure to catch that one. And Jane - I stumbled across the program Wierd, True & Freaky on Animal Planet and I thought of you. There weren't any two-headed cows, but I saw bunny rabbits the size of big dogs and a squid that was longer than a school bus. Some were the result of Frankenstein-like experimentation and others were genetically altered sub-species. Did you see it?

Lisa said...

I remember Kennebunker but I thought it was kennebecker, and I did find both online -- both are acceptable versions -- in the "Dictionary of American Regional English" -- "Valise in which clothes are put by lumbermen when they go into camp for a 'winter operation'" and it is still the funniest word ever. Well, next to xyster, of course!

Richard Harland Smith said...

Jersey Devil my white tail deer ass.