TV Skeptic: ‘Chasing UFOs’ Too Much Mulder Not Enough Sculley
“What the BLEEP was that?” Not only is that the most frequently repeated line of dialog in “Chasing UFO’s,” but it’s also the reaction I had after sitting through the first two episodes of the new series premiering Friday on the National Geographic Channel.
The series, which claims to use science to investigate reports of sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), is the latest entry in a genre of unscripted TV that follows a formula that can be best described as: Easily frightened people searching in the dark for things that frighten them and getting frightened on camera.
It’s really not as scary as it sounds.
The formula began with ghost hunting shows and then expanded to include cryptozoology, the paranormal, and now almost anything out of the ordinary.
True to form, “Chasing UFOs” includes a team of “investigators” who climb into a big SUV and hit the road, explaining their latest case to each other, and the viewer, en route.
The “Chasing” team, which consists of “adventurer” Erin Ryder, “scientist” Ben McGee and UFOlogist James Fox, brings little new to the formula, beyond singing a UFO song while driving to a location.
UFOs may not be a good fit. For example, it may make sense to whisper while hunting for a large mysterious creature in a dark forest or while searching for a ghost in a darkened house, but lights in the sky? Are aliens in a mile-wide spaceship imagined to be so skittish that they’ll bolt if they hear a raised voice?
In the premiere, the team heads to Texas where they see videotaped evidence of mysterious lights that have been spotted in the sky. The video was shot by a law enforcement dashboard cam, and is basically an image of a light in the night sky.
Is it a UFO? Very likely, in that it is an object, it seems to be flying and it hasn’t been identified. Is it an alien spacecraft? Not likely. Yet that seems to be the first conclusion of the “Chasing” team.
Whatever evidence is found, it is simply taken at face value. In the case of the video, there are a number of contradictions that just don’t seem to add up. For example, the readout from the dashboard cam indicates that the video was recorded at two locations, miles apart, yet that doesn’t match the constable’s description.