Legends of the Lost with Megan Fox dropped like a rock in the Nielsen ratings for its second outing this week. Tuesday’s episode, which featured Fox meeting with alternative history icon Graham Hancock and identifying Stonehenge as a prehistoric hospital, bagged just 325,000 viewers, down from 429,000 last week. The miserable ratings secured the show 121st place in the Tuesday ratings race, behind NatGeo’s Life Below clip show special, Animal Planet’s Lone Star Law, Motor Trend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides, and even Travel’s own 9 PM rerun of Expedition Unknown, which 90,000 more people watched than Fox’s 8 PM show, and its 11 PM rerun of Monster Encounters, which 50,000 more people watched.
You might have seen the recent spate of publicity surrounding Bob Lazar, a UFO lecture circuit regular who became famous a nearly thirty years ago, in May 1989, when Las Vegas TV reporter George Knapp interviewed him about the U.S. government’s alleged UFO research at Area 51. Over the years, Lazar’s claims have expanded into a baroque narrative encompassing U.S. government research into 10,000 years of alien involvement in human affairs, but his personal credibility has suffered from revelations that his alleged alma maters have no record of him, something he calls a conspiracy to discredit him. Now Lazar is the subject of a new documentary from the same team that brought us Hunt for the Skinwalker earlier this year, and following much the same format, including clips from old Knapp interviews. The film has occasioned borderline credulous write-ups in a number of mainstream publications, including The Daily Beast and the British tabloids.
Last week, I reported that Megan Fox’s new Legends of the Lost brought in disappointing ratings when just 429,000 people tuned in, according to preliminary figures, putting it in the same Tuesday ratings class as Motor Trend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides (424,000) and CNBC’s The Profit (430,000). The numbers are roughly average for Travel shows, and just two-thirds of those of those of new episodes of Mysteries at the Museum, the highest-rated series on the network, but on par with day-side and early prime reruns of Mysteries. Nevertheless, despite the manifest lack of public interest in her program—representing 0.1% of the U.S. population—the media remain fascinated by… I almost said “a movie star doing a cable show about weird shit,” but that isn’t true. Zachary Quinto is also a movie star doing a cable show about weird shit, to three times the ratings, and almost literally nobody in the media cared. The media are fascinated because a certain set of editors are hot for Megan Fox and titillated by the idea of an attractive woman doing “man” stuff like archaeology.
I don’t usually cover the same fringe theorist twice in the same week, but I am making an exception because of the shocking new release from L. A. Marzulli that the Nephilim theorist announced yesterday. It also happens to coincide with the subject of my (other) forthcoming new book, tentatively titled Monuments of an Unknown People, which will be published a little more than a year from now. I can’t give more details until the contract comes through, probably next week. Anyway, Marzulli announced his newest DVD, On the Trail of the Nephilim: The Mysterious Moundbuilders. Yes, those Mound Builders—the imaginary lost race of (a) Jews, (b) cannibal giants, (c) ancient Aryans, or (d) Solutreans who were alleged to have been the true builders of the Native American mounds of North America back in the days when white Americans were too racist to admit that Native Americans could make large earthworks out of piles of dirt, a skill they believed only the white race had mastered.
I am pleased to announce that I have received a commission from Red Lightning Books and Indiana University Press for a new book, tentatively titled Legends of the Pyramids, which will explore the mythical history of Giza pyramids, from Joseph’s granaries to antediluvian giants to space aliens. The short book will be written for a general mass-market audience and is intended to serve as an overview of the many ways people have imagined the history of the pyramids. It will incorporate material from my blog and focus on the importance of the medieval legend of the antediluvian pyramids from the Akhbar al-zaman in shaping popular understanding of the pyramids and Egyptian history down to the present. The book is currently scheduled for release sometime in 2020.
Here’s a brief overview of the book from my book proposal:
Before we begin today, I will report the Nielsen ratings for Megan Fox’s Travel Channel series Legends of the Lost, which debuted on Tuesday. It tanked. Bad. Fast national ratings, which will be adjusted slightly for DVR viewing in the coming days, indicate that 429,000 people watched the show live, making it the 76th ranked cable show for Tuesday. The show was in a bad spot because of its timeslot, 8 PM to avoid airing opposite the cable leader in the category and across all shows, The Curse of Oak Island, on rival History at 9 PM, a show that attracts 3.3 million viewers—1% of all Americans, not just America’s 100 million TV households. Legends, however, failed even to rival the Curse recap special that aired opposite it and easily defeated the dull Travel attempt to attract the same audience.
I see that Adrienne Mayor, the author of The First Fossil Hunters, has a new book out called Gods and Robots, which explores ancient ideas about automata and related mechanical devices. I have not yet read the entire book, but I wanted to note that it opens with a subject that is particularly special to me, since I wrote an entire book about it myself five years ago: the legend of Jason and the Argonauts. She introduces the story first thing in chapter 1 in order to bring up the myth of Talos, the “man of Bronze,” whom she identifies as an “animated statue,” following, apparently, the being’s appearance in the Jason and the Argonauts movie, where the bronze giant was depicted as a statue on a pedestal. Indeed, she illustrates her discussion with a picture of a bronze casting of the movie’s model Talos used for the special effects shots. Weirdly, though, Mayor writes that the movie’s Talos was felled by “Medea’s trick,” even though in the movie the incident is removed to the start of the Argonauts’ voyage, before they met Medea, and Jason himself pops the bolt from Talos to kill him, an odd error for so important a point.
We live in strange times when even the purveyors of conspiracy theories and pseudoscientific nonsense gape in awe at the horrors they have wrought. Giorgio Tsoukalos has happily fronted a TV series that has reveled in all manner of conspiracy theories, from anti-government speculations to Russophile propaganda, and at once point he literally claimed that space aliens made a peace treaty with the coelacanth to spare it from extinction. But this week even Tsoukalos couldn’t fathom how it was that his fans could hold baffling conspiracy theories in their heads at the same time, namely that all of NASA’s visits to the moon were fake but that the U.S. secretly traveled to Mars and established a colony there.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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