Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Egypt's Lost Queen update

Okay, I watched everything but the last 20 minutes or so. Mostly I agree with Mark Rose's assessment here: Pretty good, but a bit scattershot in places. It wasn't nearly as hokey and melodramatic as other Egypto-o-programs have been, but lots of loose ends were left hanging. What was the mysterious "skin disease" noted on some of the mummies? At one point they seem certain it's a genetic disease, elsewhere it's probably something from the mummification process. If you're not sure, say so, but don't just let people say different things at different times without, in the end, letting someone state the conclusion. They do this a lot, showing something interesting and/or unusual, but then going on to something else (e.g., the arrow stuck in "Thutmose I"). I think a lot of those incongruities that Mark picked up on are probably a result of the editing process, and a lack of attention by said editors to continuity problems. Get with it guys!

But, as Mark notes, this was a bit different sort of documentary where there weren't a lot of after-the-fact interviews where the investigators could sit down and actually tell us what they found out and how and why. It was largely an as-it-happens thing. Which can be confusing. Sayeth Mark:
Hopefully, at the end of this film, viewers won't be as lost as Thutmose I. But I think that the "Lost Queen" raises important questions about what happens when you cross a science-based documentary with reality TV. There's a real danger there of half-thought-through ideas ending up being broadcast to millions, who will take them as gospel truth.

It seemed like they were really trying to capture the whole sort of CSI schtick by following the investigation "as it happens" and build a dramatic story around that. I think that's a good strategy, but you need to pay more attention to keeping loose ends from hanging all over the place.

Oh yeah, it irritates me as well when mummies who look like they're "screaming" are more or less just assumed to have died IN THAT EXACT POSITION. Someone at some point did argue that it was pre-mortem but then why wouldn't the mummifiers just close her mouth?

Don Ryan was pretty much captured as he is. "I don't feel like risking my life for a television program." Heh. (BTW, I'm still not sure what the point of that tomb visit was, but it was interesting) As for Kara Cooney, but I expect we'll be seeing more of her. She has a strong, clear voice, no hesitation, and attractive; the camera loves her.

UPDATE: Reenactments: Eh, not overly annoying. I suppose you have to show something besides talking heads and walls full of glyphs. I hope I get reenacted after I die, since they seem to use extraordinarily attractive actors to play the parts. Seeing as Hatshepsut was rather large, balding, with bad teeth, I'd say the young lady they had representing her was something of an improvement on the original.

UPDATE II: Bit more info from the lab that did the DNA work.