While the official trailer calls the program by the title above, it was previously promoted as Traveling the Stars with Action Bronson, though they must have decided that the title didn’t adequately convey the amount of marijuana needed to enjoy Ancient Aliens.
The marijuana-induced commentary is, according to the trailer, something like Mystery Science Theater 3000 if MST3K were entirely improvised by ignoramuses with minimal education. (I am sure somewhere noted ex-marijuana enthusiast Graham Hancock is fuming.)
(A+E Networks is the owner of the trademarks and intellectual property of Ancient Aliens, which is produced for the History Channel by Prometheus Entertainment.)
Vice Media and A+E Networks refused to allow A. C. Nielsen to report Viceland’s ratings, but the International Business Times obtained ratings data last month from Rentrak, a competitor to A. C. Nielsen, and it wasn’t good. In January, Rentrak reported that H2 averaged 241,000 daily viewers (and this was for its rerun programming, having stopped airing originals last year in anticipation of the switch to Viceland), while Viceland drew just 55,000 daily viewers in its first month on the air. Vice Media disputes the numbers but won’t release their own for five more months. In its prime, H2 had drawn more than 1.1 million viewers for its flagship show, America Unearthed, while Vice insists that most of its Viceland content is consumed online, where more than 113 million “views” occurred in the first three weeks, though Vice would not define a “view.”
It’s hard not to see the heavily promoted Ancient Aliens special as a way of leveraging that program’s much larger audience of roughly 1.6 million viewers to help Viceland gain ratings traction on TV. Remember, too, that a few weeks ago I spoke with a producer from Vice Media who was planning an Ancient Aliens-themed program on the cultural impact of the series. It seems unlikely to be coincidental.
Meanwhile, there was still more depressing news from the world of television. CBS announced that it is reviving the Twilight Zone yet again (after the 1980s revival, the Twilight Zone feature film, and the UPN revival series), but this time as a hybrid TV show and video game. According to a report in The Wrap, the plan is to produce episodes of the series that will allow viewers to “change and adapt the story based on what he or she feels.” It would be unfair to judge the new product before it launches, but it would seem that this approach would be antithetical to the storytelling format of the original Twilight Zone, in which stories built to a specific conclusion in order to deliver a moral lesson or dramatic irony. The only way this might work is if every choice resulted in the same conclusion, though that would be a depressing confirmation of predestination that would again undercut Rod Serling’s humanistic views.
It strikes me as a cynical reuse of a famous name to try to garner attention for a new product. Hmm… That seems to be a theme today!