Thursday, July 12, 2007

See this post for a link to this review in Variety:
Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen

Although this documentary has a juicy premise as its foundation -- the mystery surrounding Hatshepsut, an Egyptian queen who stole the thrown and "ruled as a man" -- this painstaking Discovery special is, ultimately, a bit of a snooze. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the Antiquities, has more than a bit of Geraldo Rivera in him, but no matter how hard he and the producers labor to convey it, their enthusiasm over this "missing persons case" doesn't translate. For anybody lacking an academic level of commitment to archaeology, sorry, she's not our mummy.

Oh dear. . . . .darlings, I realize you probably have electronic spell checkers, but have you throne thrown out your editors, too?

Anyway, the upshot of the review seems to be in this bit:
Producer-director Brando Quilici certainly goes the extra mile trying to wring suspense out of the exercise -- as the press release pledges, to "bring archaeology alive for viewers." At one point, there's even an honest-to-God scream on the soundtrack when a mummified face is revealed.

Sorely lacking, however, is anything approaching a "Rosebud" moment. Moreover, despite the wild-eyed salesmanship by Hawass and the eagerness of Stanford professor Kara Cooney -- who joins in attempting to put the pieces together -- the final payoff seems relatively mundane in the eyes of a novice.

We've seen this before, on Discovery and elsewhere: Lots of hype, lots of faux drama, and in the end not saying much of anything. Remember Nefertiti's hair? But I'll hold off agreeing with this review until I've seen it myself. They may have a point: Hatshepsut isn't exactly on everybody's mind when you mention "Ancient Egypt", though she's a perennial favorite of the Egypt-o-mania crowd. So on the one hand, to get viewers who don't know Hatshepsut from gesundheit, you need to make it a bit dramatic, else why should anyone care? OTOH, there has to be some there there or else people are just gonna walk away ticked.