Monday, May 19, 2008

Indiana Jones update Two programs were on last night thattried to capitalize on the Indy mania: Indiana Jones and the Ultimate Quest on History Channel and Mystery of the Crystal Skulls on SciFi. This isn't really a review, since I only watched one of them. Why? Well, I started out with the former (it started an hour earlier) and then during a commercial break popped over to the latter and was really disappointed. I will readily admit that the little bit I saw may not have been representative and I invite anyone who saw more than that to post a comment, but what I saw was all Erick von Daniken type stuff. Previously unknown "experts" telling us how sticking a skull in some sort of electrically charged chamber makes the eyes all glowy and this is supposed to be significant for some reason. OOOOOOooooooo.

So anyway, the other one was much better. It went through most of the characteristics of the Indy movies such as the physical dangers involved in fieldwork, relations with the locals, whether or not old-time archaeologists were really glorified relic hunters, etc. Most (actually all from what I could tell) of the archys were pretty positive about the series. Not that it reflected any sort of reality, but that it was fun enough to get people interested in archaeology and want to learn more. I've argued this before on other topics related to science fiction; many if not most scientists are initially turned onto science by science fiction. Not that anyone seriously expects to go an Indiana Jonesish once they start studying archaeology -- or if they do, it doesn't last more than a few minutes listening to a professor drone on and on about C14 dating and carbon reservoirs and such -- but it gets them interested enough to learn more. And you still often do capture that spirit of adventure and wonder at stuff that's been preserved for thousands of years and you're the first one to see it.

It's worth watching by professionals just for some of the field stories. And Demerest is a hoot talking about snakes. Funny though, nobody mentioned the one great danger of archaeology to life and limb, which is third-world traffic. I swear, the only times my life seriously flashed before my eyes was while either in a car in Egypt or watching one bearing down on me. Or a horse. I almost got run over by a horse once, too.

I give it a thumbs-up and recommend watching it if it's on again.

They also had on a special Geico cavemen "commercial". It's kind of a typical Geico commercial, but it lasts for 2-3 minutes and has nothing to do with insurance. I'll try to find a link to the video.