To paraphrase Homer Simpson, the Nazis are the Washington Generals of the History Channel, the go-to clichéd villain in a varying number of narrative experiments. Want somebody without a soul or sense of shame to challenge your hero's resolve? Find a fascist. Looking to blame a cabal for the cruel treatment of fuzzy little bunnies with cute button noses? Locate a goose-stepper. Need to portray power perverted into a delirious decadence, complete with bondage, discipline and elements of the grotesquely erotic? Seek out the SS and their cross-dressing officers. Yes indeed, the members of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich are such a disgraceful little blight on the blotter of global goodness that they should sue for exclusive status in the realm of the rotten, in perpetuity, until some other redolent regime comes along to steal their genocidal thunder. No matter how hard they try, the people of Germany will always have a stain on their Teutonic tights over the acceptance of Hitler and his half-assed ideas about racial and political superiority. And just like any abhorrent scoundrel, about every aspect and orifice of this insane idiot has been discussed to death, rendering his history about as open as the space between Jessica Simpson's ears. But that didn't stop Unsolved History, that half-baked Discovery Channel choad, from looking to digitally recreate the Fuhrer's last know hiding place for purposes only they can explain (and very poorly at that). Indeed, there is some manner of rationale for locating, redrawing and walking through an animated recreation of Adolf's hidey-hole, but this critic will be damned to discover what the intention was. After watching 45 mind-numbing minutes of this meandering, repetitious tripe, he's ready to seek asylum in his own personal playpen until the mental storm has subsided.
Welcome to the continued travesty known as Unsolved History. When last we discussed this television show, we were witness to a witless recreation of President Kennedy's assassination which proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that people take pretty crappy pictures, most of the time. Undeterred by their abject failure to shed any new light on the death of a President, those manic mixers hired as part of the investigators for this show have moved over to the Fatherland, to see if they can conclusively prove that Hitler had a hiding place to ride out the rest of the war. Well, DUH! I think we know this. After all, no World War II miniseries ends with Dolf and his swank sweetie Eva strolling off to Austria to hang out with Arnold Schwarzenegger's daddy. Nope, anticipating the bomb shelter craze of the mid-50s by about a blitzkrieg and a half, the Fuhrer ferreted underground before taking the coward's way out with a bullet and a couple of cyanide capsules. And then the Russians obliterated every last trace of the fallen leaders love tunnels. Or did they. That is apparently the purpose of this show. Focusing on a parking lot and park in now free East Berlin, the tech team hired by U-His wants to see if (a) parts of the basement Bastille still exist and (b) whether a 3-D computer recreation of the bunker can be broached. Unfortunately, we get to witness the 43-minute answer to this simple two-part query in all its dreary details.
It's hard to imagine the function for all this fuss. True, a card carrying member of the cinematic fan club gets all worked up when a newly remastered DVD comes out of their favorite film, and scientists are always recreating old experiments to see if they can learn any new or vital information. But we're not talking about a restored version of Casablanca or the formula for cold fusion here. This is an underground concrete barracks, the purpose of which was to keep bombs and bullets out of Nazi nether regions. Once you've discovered that it has four walls, several rooms and a large layer of cement for a ceiling, where's the mystery? Are we going to learn that the Fuhrer had a sauna and spa in his temporary tomb? Perhaps he hid a bowling alley amongst his conference and carousing rooms? Is there some secret element to his subterranean clubhouse, a screening room or badminton court that played an important part in the politics and/or policies of the Reich's ridiculous regime and the start/ending of World War II? The answer, of course, is NEIN, but Unsolved History still wants to walk us through the endless erratic experiments and eyewitness discussions by living, breathing Nazis. But all we end up with is a 30-second lame-ass version of Doom where we virtually walk through several sparse rooms, and yet never once get the opportunity to blow up or shoot anything, dammit.
You'd think by this time that anyone who played a part in the Aryan atrocity known as the Third Reich would be hiding in shame under their lederhosen collection, hoping to the highlands no one discovers their sinister association. So it's amazing when a couple of certified Hitler sycophants show up and start yakking about hanging out with Mr. Moustache, Goebbels and the rest of the Germanic gang in the Swastika's underground fun factory. These elderly examples of the media hungry nature of human beings extol, describe and wander down the miscreant memory strassa as the realities of the bunkers become apparent. They were dark. They were dank. They smelled funny and were filled with spineless bastards who couldn't or wouldn't stand in the place of men they so readily ordered to the front. Like a gigantic game of 'hide and never seek', the leaders of the powerful, perfect government hid like little girls from a spider and soiled themselves thinking they were soon to be surrounded by the superior forces of freedom (or Stalinist sadism). As they filled the port-o-potties and figured out a final solution for themselves, they lived in a glorified fruit cellar that could actually have functioned as a catacomb had the Allies understood the advantage they really had. But Undiscovered History is having none of this. All it wants from its former brown-shirted accomplices is a little architectural analysis and some Deutschland design tips so that their virtual visit to this lame locale is as detailed and descriptive as possible.
Still, one has to wonder why – and it's a question that Unsolved History never addresses. Almost as if recreating the bunker in digital dimensions was like climbing a mountain, we only feel a "because it's there" reasoning for all this research. Satellite photos are scoured. Images from once secret Soviet files are scanned. The verbal descriptions from our first person spectators are applied. And some strange scientific experiments that resembles elderly beach walkers looking for hidden treasure with their metal detectors, is utilized to prove facts that, basically, appear to be given to all involved except the Discovery Channel contributors. The final computer conceptualization is interesting in a kind of Apple IIe ideal, but it begs the question. Just because we can recreate it, does it mean it holds any real significance? If you could visualize the vomitoriums of Ancient Rome in dimension and detail, does it mean we'd want to see its puke-filled facets? What if we could use technology to visit the vivisection parlors of early surgical theaters? Should we make an hour long show out of the medical mishaps that occur? There seems to be no real scientific or historic point to this bunker bunkum. There is no major revelation or military insight, and the living conditions betray the basic, bereft of luxuries life during wartime mentality. Again like a too tall peak or a jagged cliff, detailing the dimensions of Hitler's last bedroom may seem like a challenging objective, but it doesn't add up to amusing or interesting viewing.
Maybe, had Unsolved History found a way to work in some of the slander and scandal of the Nazi regime into its blueprint balderdash, we'd have found the connection between the location and the lunatic who lived there. Hitler, for all that has been written and revealed about him, is still a sickeningly fascinating figure. Backseat psychologists and overt apologists want to make him out to be everything, from Satan to savior and all repugnant roads in between. And frankly, there are several aspects to his résumé that can never be adequately explained. But to spend 4o-plus minute discussing his final resting place - like it has any other significance other than as a location - is just plain dull. Several of Reich architect Albert Spears' most ambitious Nazi landmarks were never constructed. Why not recreate those instead? When the US Presidential residence known as the White House was first built, it was a shadow of its post-modern self. Why not find a way to give us a glimpse of that important part of our national heritage? Why not find a way to have your Pentium make your series more entertaining? But no, just like shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theater or "XENA" at a comic convention, Unsolved History wants to call up the name of the notorious Nazi and watch the Instant Karma smile up its televised tutorial. Too bad all they get is a couple of computer geeks and their guided tour of a non-descript ratskellar.
The Discovery Channel must still believe that VHS is a viable medium based on the half-hearted DVD they provided for purchase. Obviously misunderstanding that what medium's abbreviation stood for, the company has placed piles of poo onto aluminum discs instead of the usual digital quality concepts. They must think DVD stands for domain of visual doodie. As for the image, while the 1.33:1 full frame looks fine, the lack of any chapters (you can only advance through the show in 10-minute intervals. What genius came up with that idea?) and the inability to fast forward through the opening commercial for the online store shows that, when it comes to advances in entertainment sciences, the smart-ass cable network thinks the laser reading receiver is just a fad.
OK, so the Dolby Digital Stereo sound is crystal clear and aurally effective. Big deal. All this means is that the howler monkey machinations of the freakish female narrator is captured in complete clarity. Along with all the dread and doom background music that sounds like someone farting on the synthesizer, the audible elements of Unsolved History are acceptable, if not very enticing.
Here's the best added feature ever to be found on a digital disc. Once Unsolved History is over, it automatically stops your DVD player for you. No need to hit a button or anything. Now, if it would only release the drawer, eject the title and toss it effortlessly into the nearest landfill for you, this package would be flawless. Instead, the self-cessation aspect is the only thing that can even be considered a bonus on this bare bones bull's batch.
So the Nazi's are the worldwide symbol for the sinister and the scurrilous. BFD! Who cares, really? Arabs can harp all they want to about the negative portrayal of their people in films and they basically have an intolerant point. Americans are not known for willingly embracing foreign religions and cultures, so the less than flattering representation is something our cinematic citizenry are indeed guilty of. And within our own borders, to make the inner city seem a blight on the entire nation is, again, an example of narrow-minded thinking mixed with belated bigotry from about a few hundred years ago. But the Third Reich has nothing to be bitching about. They tried to take over the world and wipe out an entire ethnic race in the process, and if that doesn't grant you instant asshole status, what does? Unsolved History doesn't do the Fatherland any favors by delving into a past preoccupation with a paperhanger from Austria and his secret safe house beneath the Earth's surface. Unless you are a scholar of this sad segment in humanity's march toward the infinite, you'll be so uninterested in the result that you yourself will be looking for a poison capsule to swallow. While we, as a world population, should never forget the awful attributes of the Fuhrer's facade, the ham-fisted manner in which Hitler's Bunker is discussed on this DVD does the impossible. It makes you feel sorry for anyone, Nazi or otherwise, who had to sit through the construction of this stone asylum.