Reaches back in time!
One of the frustrating things about the college experience is the way that textbooks, especially for introductory courses, tend to work. Books for classes like calculus or biology require big, expensive textbooks that are filled with diagrams and images that take a lot of money to produce. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but the publishers “update” them every couple of years, making older editions obsolete to maintain the high prices. Besides high prices, the other major problem with this approach is that not enough changes year-to-year in most fields to justify changing editions of a book, a derivative in calculus is the same as it was 50 and 150 years ago. This might seem off-topic when discussing Ancient Aliens: Season 6, Part 2, but I think that, like textbooks, there are only so many theories and so much evidence for alien contact. That material was exhausted in the second or third season, which means these 12 episodes offer increasingly silly and outlandish “theories” that grow increasingly tenuous in their connection to reality. If you’re into the show for the absurdity (or are interested in augmenting it with mood-enhancing substances) you might find something to appreciate, but this is not a show for everyone.
The show hasn’t changed much over the years: combine an odd historical phenomenon (from Stonehenge to ancient references to controlling the weather) with a theory about how aliens must or could have been behind it and it gives the show an excuse to travel to photogenic areas of the world. Combine these elements with a few talking-head segments and you’ve got the show. This particular (half-) season covers everything from the possibility that Steve Jobs and Nikolai Tesla were influenced by aliens to old standbys like the Nazi-alien connection.
There are three significant reasons to watch Ancient Aliens. The first, and most obvious, is if you really believe whole-heartedly in alien contact. For true believers, Ancient Aliens presents a wealth of scenarios in which humans are influenced by aliens. Sure, many of the scenarios stretch the bounds of credibility to the breaking point, but for those looking to latch onto any little thing that might suggest there’s life out there, Ancient Aliens delivers.
Another reason to watch the show is that it acts like a very eccentric travelogue. Many of the alien stories chronicled on Ancient Aliens take place in far-flung places in the world. From the Carnac Stones of Europe to China during the time of Genghis Khan, the show travels to numerous places to ferret out connections between humans and aliens. And even when the show isn’t travelling all over the world, other interesting subjects come up, like the entire episode dedicated to all the Marvel comics that feature aliens, including input from Stan Lee himself. These moments probably aren’t enough to justify watching the whole series, but those with an interest in a particular place or idea might enjoy individual episodes.
Finally, probably the best reason to watch Ancient Aliens is to embrace the goofiness. There’s a certain stoner-like charm about the often paranoid take the show has on alien contact. Just about anything can be evidence for contact, and I can see how a thick haze of smoke between viewer and screen could make this a great late-night viewing option for some. Whether the show will provide food for stoned thoughts or mere giggles depends on the individual viewers, however. But of course you don’t have to be high to enjoy the goofiness of the show’s quest, even if it takes itself too seriously at times.
Of course the major objection to Ancient Aliens is that it has no business on the History Channel in the first place, as it is so far from “history” as to be laughable. I think more importantly, the show is definitely treading water in a number of episodes, going back to the well on perennial topics like the Nazis. I don’t mind the show stretching (Steve Jobs and aliens is pretty crazy), but there’s only so many times they can present the same basic thesis before viewers will be tired.
This season’s Blu-ray set is fine too. The 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfers fare well overall; new material looks the best, with great detail and color in the talking-head interviews. Other material suffers from wear-and-tear due to archival sources, but it’s never particularly distracting. The DTS-HD 5.1 tracks keep the interviews/voice-overs perfectly audible and centered. Surrounds are surprisingly active, filled with appropriately cheesy sound effects, and dynamic range is impressive for this kind of show.
Extras, if you can even call them that, consist of the ability to bookmark the show.
Ancient Aliens: Season 6, Part 2 is an absurd collection of half-truths and historical conjecture. It’s well-produced, which makes it fun for some, but unless you’ve tuned into previous seasons and really want more, there’s little here to tempt new viewers.
I don’t believe a moment of it, but the show is not guilty.