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Ancient Aliens: The Complete Seasons 1-6
There is likely no other series I've had a bigger love-hate relationship than "Ancient Aliens." What began as outright rage at History for duping myself and what I'd assume to be countless others with the original 90-minute "documentary" special to sheer gall of the network to grab random discs from existing season sets and repackage them in a "best-of" package, "Ancient Aliens," has sent my emotions on the gamut from anger, frustration, confusion and outright sheer joy. Now entering it's seventh season, History gathers the first six seasons into one concise, twenty three disc package, for reasons unknown (until I found out there was a seventh season currently airing, I thought the show had been cancelled), in the aptly titled, "Ancient Aliens: The Complete Seasons 1-6."
I've been fortunate enough to not receive a lot of hate mail as a reviewer for the nearly half decade I've been writing about everything from the biggest blockbuster to the most obscure, micro budget indie production. Maybe only third to my scathing dismissals of "Avatar" and "Prometheus," my indifference and often-outright mockery of "Ancient Aliens" has been the noted exception. So before I begin writing about "Ancient Aliens" for what I hope is the final time, let me provide some context: the unexplained and crypto zoology have been lifelong interests, stemming from my love of sensational series' such as "Arthur C. Clarke's Universe," "In Search Of," and "Unsolved Mysteries," and within the past year or so, "Ancient Aliens" has slowly begun to take its place in my personal pantheon of goofy, schlocky pseudoscience.
If there's one undeniable qualm I'm always going to have with "Ancient Aliens," is its blatant arrogance in presenting the admitted baseless claims made by Erich von Daniken as fact. One could go on at great lengths tearing apart the logical fallacies flying a mile a minute in the series debut season, which is most heavily tied to von Daniken's infamous "Chariot of the Gods" material. Half a decade ago when History first brought von Daniken back to the public eye, I cried foul over their misrepresentation of pseudoscience as legitimate theory; however having watched the network itself evolve and the outlandishness of the series, it's time to accept the fact that "Ancient Aliens" is nonsense and merely enjoy the ride.
The strengths of the series are without a doubt its sheer willingness to present the absurd with the most deadpan serious tone: from season two's exploration into extraterrestrial involvement with the Third Reich (Alien Nazis?!) to latter seasons connecting the legend of Bigfoot to extraterrestrial origins, viewers can always rely on the series to provide a sold 40-odd minutes of sheer entertainment. Playing the more comedic foil to the tone of the series is Giorgio Tsoukalos, the show's producer. Tsoukalos, a former bodybuilding promoter turned director of Erich von Daniken's Center for Ancient Astronaut Research, initially pops up as a talking head. It's not long before Tsoukalos' natural charisma makes him the real breakout star of the series, offering up colorful catchphrases such as "Is it possible? I say yes, it is" and playing host to one of the most outlandish hairstyles in television history.
With Tsoukalos' colorful proclamations of aliens being responsible for nearly every unexplained event or advancement in civilization summarized in Internet history as a meme, it really is impossible to take "Ancient Aliens" seriously in any shape or form. For at least the first four seasons, it offers up healthy doses of outlandish claims and numerous leaps in logic. I often use the show as an example to my students as pseudoscience in modern pop culture and for that reason alone, I'll always owe a tiny bit of gratitude to the series. "Ancient Aliens" truly earns its place in the pantheon of the sensational pseudoscientific documentary; whereas "Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe" approached things with a healthy dose of skepticism, and "In Search Of" held a consistently unbiased tone, "Ancient Aliens" plants itself as the ultimate extreme in shaky theories and baseless evidence presented as science fact; infinitely watchable for all the wrong reasons.
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 Dolby Digital English 2.0 audio is a very clear mix that appropriately fits the nature of the program.
While the latter two seasons do highlight a show running on creative fumes, the first four seasons of "Ancient Aliens" make this set worth owning for the viewer fascinated with the unknown and entertained by pseudoscientific nonsense presented in a tone so serious, it's impossible to not watch without a giant smile. I predict it will be a great length of time, before we get anything like "Ancient Aliens" on TV again. Recommended.