I remember precisely the moment when I fell for Destination Truth, the Sci-Fi – oh, I’m sorry, the ‘Syfy’—Channel’s paranormal adventure show.
Host Josh Gates was in a small Mexican town, where he had become involved in a parade. And by involved I mean to say he made like Ferris Bueller and took over a float. The emcee announces something in Spanish, Josh turns to camera and translates, telling us, “that man just said I was in the new Batman movie.”
And so it was done.
This episode had already featured a near death experience in Romania wherein their plane decided to let go of its own roof – I don’t know what that roof had ever done to that plane, but that plane had had enough – and a scary-fun paranormal encounter in a haunted Romanian forest. As though there were any other kind of Romanian forest. Did I mention they had been in Romania? Romania is entertaining. You can pretty much film anything in Romania and it’s going to be a smash hit. (See, Borat.)
In that first episode, and in the rest of season 3, I found something more than Romanians using a car as a horse drawn cart. In a world that is smothered by not only overproduced one hour dramas and sitcoms, but overproduced reality shows, and most damning of all, overproduced reality thanks to the 24 hours news cycle and those that ceaselessly manipulate it, Destination Truth is blessedly free of the ties that bind. Even with the blatant Orbitz product placement. Also, Google Earth. Use it. After the Orbitz and Google Earth plugs are done, Josh Gates and company get into the business of randomly traveling hither and yon, searching for strange things and always finding them – though not usually the ones they set out to discover in the first place.
Once upon a time, we had a sense that the world was a huge place, filled with strange things. As a kid, it was my ambition to become a naturalist and move to either Africa or Australia, as I believed them to be largely untouched wilderness areas. Somewhere along the way, the idea that the world was a known entity seeped into our collective consciousness. Nature documentaries went from exploration and descriptions of the wild to a never ending drumbeat of habitat loss, extinction, and destruction of primitive cultures, oh my. Not that these aren’t important messages. They are. But they also make you want to shoot yourself in the face.
Destination Truth, with humor, moxie, and a refreshing disdain for political correctness, opens the world back up to joyous exploration. And holy crap – how wonderfully bizarre this great big world is. For example – the Island of the Dolls. An Island. Filled with Dolls. Dolls are, of course, the most frightening objects on earth. Screw vampires and werewolves, show me a porcelain doll that can open her own, possessed-by-Satan eyeballs, and I’ll show you my pants – filled with fear poo.
And while I’m at it, thank God for doing stupid nonsense. Josh Gates and company do stupid things they shouldn’t at least twice an episode, and God bless them for it. If only the rest of us were smart enough to do stupid things we shouldn’t, we’d all be a lot better off.