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UFO Hunters: The Complete Season Two
Bill Birnes, Pat Uskert, and Dr. Ted Acworth are the Lone Gunmen (for you X-Files fans) of UFO Hunters, except they're not geeky freaks working out of a mobile home. They're clear-eyed UFO investigators (in Ted's case, a former NASA and MIT employee) with the desire to critically investigate sightings, using scientific means to evaluate, debunk, or leave the encounters open to question. In the 13 44-minute-long episodes of the Complete Season Two, (in a standard sized keepcase with flipper) the crew tackles two or three related sightings at a pop, conducting interviews and examining evidence with the latest equipment in order to get at the truth. That the investigators have personality makes the show entertaining and relatable. Evocative and stylish computer animations of purported sightings add a visceral thrill, and plenty of photographic and video evidence makes this series a no-brainer for UFO fanatics of all ages.
Invasion: Illinois: The UFO Hunters crew investigates one of the largest group sightings on record, as tons of footage from the August 21st, 2004 Tinley Park incident is examined. Was a triangular formation of reddish-orange lights - seen by hundreds of witnesses throughout the south Chicagoland area (and, indeed worldwide over a course of days) - an alien craft, or flares on weather balloons? Rigorous analysis of footage, as well as an attempt to recreate the hoax that some people hypothesize, will leave you wondering.
UFO Emergency: A 1994 case in Ohio involves multiple sightings of a large glowing object that performs impossible maneuvers. It also disables police cars, is observed by a number of emergency personnel - trained observers not given to hyperbole - and is also corroborated by radar observation. It's a compelling episode.
Heartland Explosion: Two months after this April 16, 2008 incident, the UFO Hunters are on the case. Numerous witnesses in and around Kokomo, Indiana report a huge explosion, shockwaves and orange lights falling from the sky. The Air Force tries to fob the whole thing off on a sonic boom from an F-16, yet there's more (or less) than meets the eye in this story.
Aurora, Texas: First Contact: Did a metallic flying cylinder crash-land in a Texas field, years before the first airplane? The Hunters try to uncover the secrets behind what may have been a newspaper hoax by searching for unmarked graves, diving into wells, and coming face-to-face with a rattlesnake.
The Real Roswell: Facing up to the ne plus ultra of UFO incidents, the Hunters travel to New Mexico, where they learn that there might have been a second crash. Hoping to find stashed metal from one of the crash sites, Pat even engages in some spelunking.
Arizona Lights: Was this Phoenix-based mass-sighting of a huge 'V' or triangular shaped airship festooned with odd lights a military experiment or one of the best-documented UFO encounters in history? Multiple avenues of investigation lead to a rare split-decision among our UFO Hunters.
The Lost UFO Files: Is a fascinating look at airman James McDonald's 17 years of intense UFO investigation. The Hunters are granted access to his thousands of files, reopening three of them to generate new insight from Mc Donald's scientific inquiries.
Alien Fallout: Texas, 1980, the Landrums are driving at night when a flaming diamond-shaped object passes overhead. Later, one ultimately succumbs to what appears to be radiation poisoning. Were her medical records covered up, and if so, why?
UFO Storm: In the summer of 2008 the skies over the UK exploded with dozens upon dozens of UFO sightings, from the now-standard delta shaped crafts to incidents involving police choppers chasing bogeys. Using sophisticated image analysis, eyewitness interviews and never-before-seen video footage, the UFO crew attempts to come up with some explanations.
Giant UFOs: Heck, if you're going to be investigating mysterious flying objects, why not ramp up the excitement by discovering some really big ones? In this episode, French airline pilots and dozens of passenger-witnesses do just that, as they notice vessels far bigger than your average flying saucer.
Aliens At The Airport: What do you get when unidentified craft are seen dangerously close to commercial airspace? Baffled ground crews, even more stressed air traffic controllers, and yet another compelling episode of UFO Hunters.
Alien Crashes: If by now some of this stuff is seeming rote, (despite plenty of video footage, credible eyewitness accounts and other stuff) UFO Hunters has saved the best for last. When a mysterious crash in May 2008 near Needles, California brings to mind a similar crash from 1965 in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, it's time to bring out the Men in Black. Witnesses note these crashes are followed by swift military/ black-ops intervention, with double-rotor choppers removing still burning materials, men with guns keeping people out of the area, and mentions of cool stuff like 'Janet' Airlines and an Air Force division known as the Night Stalkers.
Area 51 Revealed: Not only is Area 51 revealed in footage never before seen, (truthfully, not as thrilling as you'd think) but also something known as section S-4 and Element 115. Regardless of such classifications that make skeptics groan, this look at super-secret government operations, including the work of Bob Lazar, (a controversial figure who claims to have worked on reverse-engineering UFO propulsion systems for the government) is nonetheless riveting stuff.
Unlike its kissing cousin Monster Quest, UFO Hunters manages to maintain a grip on the viewer, with seemingly more intense adherence to science and exploration methods that have the potential to actually work. Or maybe it's just me. I love monsters and all, but UFOs just seem a bit more plausible. Nonetheless, UFO Hunters' personable investigators (with their mild quirks and roles on the show) have a way of earnestly drawing you in. Their use of relatively rigorous investigative techniques, and employment of regular assistants helps keep things both straight and close to the vest, allowing you the viewer to witness professionalism while drawing your own conclusions. Plus this stuff is way cooler than staggering around in the Everglades eager to spot a Skunk Ape. Here's hoping the UFO Hunters one day crack a case wide open.
These fullframe, 1.33:1 ratio episodes are letterboxed but non-anamorphic. Aside from amateur video footage, on site shooting and interview images are crystal clear, with no glaring compression artifacts to be found. Colors are often muted, with sickly gray and yellow casts to many scenes, adding an air of mystery and unease. Overall, for TV on DVD, UFO Hunters looks great.
Dolby Digital Stereo is expertly mixed, utilizing soundtrack music to heighten the atmosphere while leaving dialog and such completely understandable. In such cases when scratchy radio transmissions are used, they even 'caption' what is being said with flashy super-graphics! It's stereo, so a super active mix isn't created, but it's dynamic and features a nice, full frequency range nonetheless.
About 38 minutes of Additional Footage more-or-less cobbles together an additional 'episode' for this Season Two collection (albeit an episode composed of excised bits from throughout the season). Everything included is at least as compelling as what made the cut for each episode, and some bits are even more intriguing. Closed Captioning is available as well.
From the 20-second-long frenetic metal theme song, (pretty catchy I must say) with each host striking a characteristic pose, you know you're in for some serious scientific saucer-shaped fun. Pat, Ted and Bill lead you on up-to-date investigations with plenty of photographic evidence, video footage, eye-witness accounts and cool animations - enough to make you really wonder what's going on up there. Respectfully employing science to first eliminate, then to corroborate possible explanations, the UFO Hunters team lends a lot of credibility to an oft-mocked area of investigation. Area 51, that is! These 13 44-minute episodes are catnip for lovers of the unknown, making this definitely Recommended.