I had the displeasure of wasting an hour of my life watching NatGeo's Chasing UFOs. Is NatGeo serious? More importantly, is this bit of silliness supposed to convince anyone of anything? In the episode I saw, the intrepid team of fearless truth seekers travel deep into the dark heart of Fresno, California where residents have reported seeing triangular craft cavort through the skies over their homes.
I won't dwell on the fact that the filmed UFOs look surprisingly like conventional aircraft, even sporting a strobing warning beacon. Nor will I dwell on the fact that these videos were shot near an airport.
Instead, I'm interested in seeing how a preformed belief system shapes our intrepid team member's perceptions of their "investigation."
First off, the UFO chasers find themselves navigating their way through mountainous terrain in search of thermal images left by an alleged crashed triangle that would have scooped up huge amounts of soil on impact. This newly freed soil evidently retains heat better than the surrounding, unscooped soil, & therefore shows up on thermal imaging equipment more efficiently.
Previously, the team was regaled by stories of mysterious white vehicles following UFO witnesses &, lo & behold, a vehicle is spotted on the ridge overlooking our heat seeking team members.
Was this a vehicle filled with nefarious men in black? Cryptic silencers out to silence our witnesses?
Sadly, we'll never know. Instead of living up to the fierce Chasing UFOs PR that's on display in the series trailer, the UFO chasers ran away.
Personally, I've come to believe this vehicle was nothing more than the Finding Bigfoot folk out hunting "Squatches."
Next, our investigators meet up with a local UFO buff who treats them to...
...(wait a minute...I have to cue up the spooky music)
tales of secret government bases buried in the hills around Fresno.
This leads the UFO chasers to accompany their new found UFO buddy into the mountains in search of military & alien gophers.
At one point, UFO chaser James Fox joins the local ufologist as the local attempts to add some credence to his underground base stories. They quickly come upon a fence preventing access to a huge tunnel.
They climb the fence & proceed down the tunnel where they find a concrete ramp that ends in a sealed steel door. As they stand there & trade insightful observations on how "creepy" the tunnel is, a few loud metallic sounds cause them to get serious and run away.
This tunnel became something amazingly suggestive to series regular Fox, although the fence obstructing entry was without a topping of razor wire & easily scaled &, most telling of all in an age where everybody films everybody, there wasn't one security camera in evidence.
Finally, team member Erin Ryder decides that she needs a closer look at the local airport. When she arrives she scales the airport security fence and trudges off in search of something or other.
As she moves along she spots a man standing in a doorway. She attempts to hide behind a shed, but from the camera angles they were using, it was quite obvious her film crew wasn't hiding behind the shed with her. Instead, they were in plain sight of anyone looking. At that point, a helicopter takes off, circles the area for a minute or so & then flies off.
That's when Erin, described on the NatGeo website as
Lara Croft. Amelia Earhart. Dana Scully. Whether in fiction or nonfiction, there are few hard-hitting, tough-as-nails females as fearless as Erin Ryder, or Ryder, as she prefers to be called. Her unique perspective, competitive nature and determination to undercover the truth have taken her around the globe to research claims of the strange and mysterious.
apparently comes close to wetting herself as she runs back to the fence pursued by no one but her film crew.
As the series concludes, the team encapsulates what they've discovered.
While the short answer would be nothing, everyone knows ufologists find short answers confining.
Instead they point out that the tunnel Mr. Fox explored was an offshoot to a local hydroelectric plant but "it could also be an entrance to a secret underground government base."
It could also be a giant potato.
But it isn't.
Of course, no one mentions that the local UFO investigator that led them there was so adept at investigating things he couldn't spend a few minutes on the internet investigating his "creepy" tunnel's origins.
Erin Ryder also turns her fairly benign experience at the airport involving her own paranoia into a close encounter with military silencers.
Really, if this is the best NatGeo has to offer, they should go back to showing the exposed breasts of indigenous women to teenage boys.
At least that had a point.