It was during another marathon session of channel surfing in search of anything, anything even mildly entertaining, that I ran across a show on Netflix streaming called Destination Truth. Little did I realize how utterly mind-numbing, time-wasting, illogical, and oddly addictive this show was about to become.
The episodes center around paranormal investigations––things that go bump in the night––with an equal amount time trying to find animals that do not exist (cryptozoology). The show is hosted by adventurer Josh Gates who leads a team of six or seven assistants consisting of camera guys, sound guys, and a couple of babes to scream and yell, “What was that?” in all the right places.
Here’s how it works: With no more than a few tales from uneducated, uninformed, and highly superstitious local natives around the world to go on ––none of whom have ever read a book in their life much less a science book––Josh and his team pack up an average of 37 pieces of luggage including infrared cameras, climbing gear, night-vision goggles, scuba gear, tents, Lord knows what else, and board a plane to travel oh, maybe 6000 miles or more. The extra baggage fees alone boggle the mind.
Upon arrival, Josh interviews some wrinkled old man who clearly has been drinking too much fermented palm juice, and listens to his tale of how the monster appeared, killed his only cow, and vanished. That’s all Josh needs to hear. Using rented vehicles (more expense) they travel through jungles, deserts, and swamps, whatever it takes, to get to the scene of the last sighting. From this point, the show really gets silly.
The plan is always the same. From their base camp, they set up four infrared cameras focused on where the last ghost/monster was seen. Next are four “trap” cameras, their shutters tripped by motion and similar to what deer hunters use to scout potential hunting areas. But that’s not all. If the team is investigating an evil spirit, they break out devices that measure unusual magnetic forces and another to pick up sounds beyond the range of the human ear. If it’s a particularly spooky place, they take turns sitting alone in a room saying things like. “Is anybody here with me? Can you give me a sign?”
This is where the babes come in because sure as hell, there’s gonna be a sign. Invariably, something makes a noise. It could me a mouse, it could be the wind, it could be the beating of their own heart, but sooner or later, one of the babes will panic and scream. Cut to commercial.
If some long extinct critter is the quarry, it gets even goofier. Why? Because Josh never looks for these animals in the daytime, only AT NIGHT!. When the base camp guy reports seeing movement on camera two, Josh and whatever babe isn’t screaming, run, yes run, to the spot. We follow along via their greenish glows as they dash through the jungle narrowly avoiding venomous snakes and fatal falls. And would you believe it? After crashing through the brush, tripping, falling, and yelling things like, “We’re almost there,” the animals is nowhere to be found. Long gone. Amazing. Who’d a thunk it?
That’s it. The investigation ends when the sun comes up! After 6000 miles, 37 pieces of luggage, rental cars, and plane tickets for 7 people, they pack it up and go home. ONE NIGHT!
Back in California (where else?) they take all their recordings and videos to the experts. If the subject is a spooky thing, Josh presents his “evidence” to…wait for it…the local ghost hunters. I mean, where else would you go to get an purely unbiased opinion of that flash of light seen for one millisecond on one camera? And if the object of the search is a cow-killing, blood-covered, bat-like creature with a ten-foot wingspan and six inch fangs who just happened to leave a piece of hair behind, Josh consults the local zoo for an analysis whereupon the zoologist puts the specimen under a microscope and says, “Looks like dog hair to me.”
My theory was that if I watched the show long enough, every episode, Josh would finally, FINALLY, find some mysterious creature unknown to science. It happens, right? Madagascar? There’s always a new species popping up in Madagascar. Why not some swamp in Louisiana or the woods in West Virginia? But no.
The Missus: “Are you watching that stupid show again?”
I bow my head and mutter, “Yes, yes I am.”
Oh, the shame.