History Channel Doubles Down on Paranormal and Conspiracy Programming in Presentation to Advertisers
“Both The UnXplained and In Search Of strive to solve some of the world’s most intriguing mysteries and it’s this truth seeking that resonates most with our viewers,” History Channel executive Eli Lehrer said in a press release. “These shows will offer credible answers to questions about mysterious phenomena, while others will remain unexplained. Who else better to transport audiences through this journey than William and Zachary, whose passion, curiosity and perseverance to present every side of these enigmas beam on screen.”
We can laugh privately at the idea that any History Channel “answers” will be credible. I imagine it says something about the History Channel that they proudly listed in the press release the large number of speculative programs about space aliens that they show.
According to the press release, Shatner’s six-episode series will explore tired topics including Florida’s Coral Castle and trendy year-old mysteries from the news like Japan’s “Suicide Forest” that gained fame when YouTube personality Logan Paul gawked at the body of a man who died there and posted footage of the corpse to the video service. The show will also discuss aliens—because it is on the History Channel—and will look at “bizarre rituals.” That phrasing doesn’t exactly promise a respectful treatment of other cultures’ beliefs and practices, does it?
In what is clearly no surprise, The UnXplained will be produced by Prometheus Entertainment and executive producer Kevin Burns, the forces behind Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island, the shows that define the History Channel brand. Burns and Prometheus are the massive black hole sucking in facts and crushing them in the enormous gravity of their boundless ignorance. History claims that 80 million Americans watched at least some of an Ancient Aliens episode in 2018, though this number is likely counting the same viewers many times over. Nielsen figures suggest fewer than 1.5 million people tuned in to any given episode. The network also claims 19 million sampled In Search Of. Nielsen figures put its ratings in the 1 million range.
Shatner has hosted similar programs for decades, beginning the 1970s when he fronted films about UFOs and ancient astronauts in the style of Rod Serling’s In Search of Ancient Astronauts. That film served as the pilot for what became the original In Search of…, and now Shatner is once again imitating In Search Of. In the 2000s, Shatner hosted Weird or What? in Canada, which examined ancient mysteries alongside other unusual phenomena. The producers for that show contacted me and dangled the possibility of an appearance in order to pump me for free research that they later used in the show.
This week’s announcement comes on the heels of History’s recent decision to air Tom DeLonge’s Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation™ this May. (History styles the title with the trademark symbol in its press materials.) That program will feature not just DeLonge but a roster of To the Stars Academy personalities, including Hal Puthoff, the ESP researcher turned interdimensional UFO chaser who sits at the center of a network of fruitless government and private UFO research work dating back to the 1970s. While the show was only announced recently, U.S. trademark records indicate that the History Channel had already filed for a trademark on the show’s title in February.
Trademark records also show that after the success of the Ancient Aliens fan convention AlienCon, the History Channel has registered the name H: HistoryCon for a fan convention for the network’s other programs. A+E Networks already operates HistoryCon conventions internationally.
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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