Terrible TV Time: Stick to Wild Conjecture, H2

(Welcome to a new sub-column, Terrible TV Time.  If you have cable, you know that there is a LOT of crap out there, and like everyone else, I have an opinion on some of it.  Please note that I draw the line at reviewing actively ANYTHING on TLC; my sanity is fragile enough as it is, and their decision to somehow reach so low that the bottom of the barrel is a distant ideal is too much for anyone who is still capable of thought.)

So if you read my year-end review for 2011, you'd know that I was disappointed in the new track that the History Channel has opted to pursue.  Its sister channel H2, formerly known as History International & easily recognized as a back library dumping ground, began to live up to its name by taking on some of the aspects that used to define the mother network.  Modern Marvels, formerly the signature series of History Channel before it decayed, has become H2's signature show; it has expanded on successful specials like How the States Got Their Shapes; and it has introduced some potentially interesting original series like 10 Things You Didn't Know About... (though personally, I think that show would benefit from losing the world's dumbest vox populi segments - there is no excuse for not knowing FDR had polio in this day & age unless you're willfully stupid).  There are hints that the redneck fetish that poisoned History Channel is starting to creep in here, thanks to overpromoted crap like Cash Cowboys, but there is one show that is a stark reminder that the same morons who think you want to watch mountain men & gator slaughterers also run this network.

Three words should say it all: Serial Killer Earth.

This is a combination of footage taken usually by amateurs of natural disasters along with eyewitness stories from survivors of the events.  There is nothing wrong per se with this format; I will admit that I like a similar interview-less show on National Geographic called Witness that has moved me to tears with its footage of everyday people trying to make sense of the Joplin tornadoes or the Japanese tsunami.  But seeing it so well done there puts SKE (as it shall be known for my sanity) in stark contrast.  It's all in the packaging.  Witness gives you a description of what event they're covering and that all of the footage is authentic, and then it airs it with nothing but the occassional bumper to indicate a commercial break.  SKE?  Well...

Apparently the Gaia Hypothesis is true, Earth is a separate living entity, and it actively hates us.  That's the sole reason natural disasters occur - Earth is deliberately trying to kill us.  Every day we aren't wiped out by a freak volcano eruption is just another battle between us and Earth.  The grim narration in the beginning of every episode tells us that Earth is a vicious killer and we must never let our guard down against it.  And no, it doesn't let up once the survivors come on to share their stories.  It is embarassingly ridiculous, yet no one seems to have noticed how awful it is.  As we speak, I am searching TV Tropes, and somehow this hyperbole has missed their Narm listings.  This does not sound like a good found footage/survival story show from the opening alone; it sounds like someone making a terrible counter program to Captain Planet.  "See, we have to pave over this wetland, or else Earth will sneak up on us with a hurricane or something!  We gotta show it who's boss!"  Yeah, I don't think natural disasters ever have or will work that way.

My guess is that no one has noticed this idiotic show for a simple reason - while H2 is a dumping ground for History's better programming, it's also a dumping ground for their volumes of crazy shit.  If you surround a show that combines the Gaia Hypothesis & paranoia with shows about how bad Photoshop proves Da Vinci was an immortal alien or that the lace used on the collar of Washington's portrait contains hidden prophecies, no one will notice the one that's only half-crazy.  But when I stumble on SKE during remote surfing sessions, I feel embarassed for everyone involved, even the interns' dog.  It's a step up from Mountain Men, but then again, so is a test pattern.  And that doesn't have any goofy narrators.

Comments

  1. If you surround a show that combines the Gaia Hypothesis & paranoia with shows about how bad Photoshop proves Da Vinci was an immortal alien or that the lace used on the collar of Washington's portrait contains hidden prophecies, no one will notice the one that's only half-crazy.

    The thing that makes this more depressing is that there are people who think that all these batshit insane conspiracy theories are totally true.

    I don't know how I got there, but there is a whole subset on youtube dedicated to people pointing out that weird screen tear during live broadcasts is a sign of an ALTERNATE DIMENSION TRYING TO BREAK THROUGH.

    Part of me pities them, and part of me envies anyone who can find a way to make watching C-Span interesting.

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