What if it were true?
Here’s a list of the episode titles you can enjoy in the “Best of” Ancient Aliens: Aliens and the Third Reich, Alien Tech, Angels and Aliens, Unexplained Structures, Aliens and Mysterious Rituals, Aliens and Ancient Engineers, Aliens, Plagues and Epidemics, and, finally, Aliens and Lost Worlds. How appropriate that this collection, the proof of the inevitable demise of the History Channel, begins with a combination of its new, pathetic sensationalism (Aliens) and its old obsession (World War II). Very early in the first episode, talking about rockets, one of their ‘experts’ says that the Germans were working on something called New York rocket because that’s how far they engineered for it to go. Fair enough. They also planned Mars rocket, so, you know, they probably had their eyes set on space travel. Absolutely, because as we all know the Germans had one form of nomenclature, which was name a thing for where you want it to go. Purely coincidentally, I’m sure, Mars is also the Roman god of war.
One speaker, an investigative journalist, genuinely asked “I suppose it is a very important question to ask, ‘What was giving Adolf Hitler the confidence to assert to masses of people that he was essentially going to take over the world’?” How about mania? They also unabashedly cite a book by someone named, I am not kidding, Van Helsing. Not all of it is complete nonsense. The Nazis were working on a flying saucer and Hitler was obsessed with ancient mysteries, but the History takes these pieces and others and tie them up with hypothetical questions. That way, they can frame an outrageous question with enough plausibility to suggest an unassailable, alien connection.
The best that can be said for this series is that it provides some interesting information. How one could be expected to discern the truth from the hokum is hard to fathom. Keep your ears open for hedge-words like "allegedly" or "some say" or "one theory is" or "we've got a crackpot that'll say..." Bookshelves need books, academic journals need articles, and television stations need television. But if we keep feeding the beast, then what's left for the rest of us? What we know about ancient history is scattered and probably inaccurate, but filling holes with nonsense isn't helpful. Maybe they're right, maybe some aliens have come down and given us a little piece of wisdom, destroyed a civilization, or built the pyramids. Or, as we see time and time again in history and in our own time that humans are capable of brilliance, destruction, and despicable subjugation. But it could be aliens.
There are no bonus features
"Best of Ancient Aliens: Greatest Mysteries" is on sale December 10, 2013 and is not rated. Sci-Fi.