The Best of Ancient Aliens: Greatest Mysteries
A&E Video // Unrated // $14.98 // December 10, 2013
Review by Nick Hartel | posted January 2, 2014
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THE PROGRAM

I'm not going to lie, I was as shocked writing it, as many of you may be when reading the following sentence. "The Best of Ancient Aliens" is a fantastic teaching tool. I'll expand more on that in a moment. First things first, History was obviously capitalizing on the extreme popularity of its "Ancient Aliens" series, now in its sixth season, when it decided to release a two-disc best-of DVD release. Surely that means all your favorite episodes focusing on the alien connections between modern civilization, Hitler, DaVinci, the Founding Fathers, the dinosaurs and Bigfoot are included, right? Well, you do get your standard ancient civilization connections and even some alien/Hitler connections, but that's only because "The Best of Ancient Aliens" chooses to merely reliable two random discs from the original season two and three releases, in move that may be the laziest most disingenuous move of marketing I've ever seen from History. Then there is the actual content of the show itself.

If you read my review of the original ‘Ancient Aliens" documentary feature, you'll know how I felt about the whole concept itself, namely its firmly rooted in pseudoscience origins. Since that original feature and the ensuing TV show, pop culture has firmly made "Ancient Aliens" the butt of many jokes and the Internet has elevated one of its key figures, Giorgio Tsoukalous to a minor pop culture phenomena, one the man himself has obviously taken notice of, namely his increasingly ridiculous hairstyles. My opinion of the "science" or lack thereof behind the ancient astronaut theory remains unchanged, but my approach to the series itself has done a bit of a 180, in that I have personally found it to be a tremendous teaching tool in explaining pseudoscience and logical fallacies to others, and the episodes captured in this release do a great job of illustrating both these principles.

In "Aliens and the Third Reich," the sheer level of unintentional comedy is at a high, with completely unsubstantiated claims of an extraterrestrial connection to the Nazis being lobbed at viewers without a hint of irony, culminating in the claims that some high ranking SS officers who seemingly disappeared may have done so with otherworldly help. "Alien Tech" more firmly roots things in the level of pseudoscience I find more dangerous, with the series' band of experts (many whom apparently hold very real degrees at legitimate institutions of higher learning) taking the opportunity to exploit gaps in historical explanations for the classic "aliens did it" solution. The logical leaps throughout the collection of episodes range from comparing carvings in both Egyptian and Mayan architecture to modern spacesuits, to things as absurd as suggesting that Merlin built Stonehenge with a magic wand that was actually a possible piece of alien technology. They even go as far as to try and appeal to the semi-science minded who discredit religion, namely the classic claim of "God did it" with suggesting, in "Angels and Aliens" that angels are actually, yes you guessed it, aliens.

"The Best of Ancient Aliens" is garbage pseudoscience at its best, far removed from the more harmless sensationalism that made "In Search Of…" and "Unsolved Mysteries" so charming. Instead it is full of nonsense claims presented as trustworthy knowledge by "experts." It is little more than six hours of gaps in history being explained by the now meme worthy "I don't know, therefore aliens" defense or repeated denial that ancient civilizations were capable of incredible feats of architecture and engineering simply because they came from primitive times. Taken as source of unintentional comedy, "The Best of Ancient Aliens" is a great way to spend your time and in the process learn exactly how to "do science wrong." For anyone looking to actually learn something worthwhile, I implore you to do so far removed from this nonsense.





THE DVD

The Video

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is generally acceptable, with slightly warmer than expected colors; the picture itself is marred by minor compression artifacts and a wholly average at best level of detail. It's about what one should expect from a cheaply made, weekly TV production in the "documentary" category.

The Audio

The Dolby Digital English 2.0 audio is a very clear mix that appropriately fits the nature of the program.

The Extras

None.

Final Thoughts

If the fact that this supposed "Best Of" release is just two random discs from two different seasons relabeled wasn't enough to insult a consumer, the actual content of the shows should easily seal the deal. "Ancient Aliens" remains nothing more than sensationalistic pseudoscience supplemented by the most blatant examples of logical fallacies. As much as I enjoyed the episodes presented here for reasons far removed from their actual intent, I can't recommend a purchase. Rent It.



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