THE TV COLUMN : It’s not double vision — 2 UFO Hunters in 2 places

Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2008

There’s no denying it. UFOs are hot and getting hotter.

The current interest has been fueled by last month’s spate of reported sightings in Texas.

It seems silent, mysterious lights were up in the sky. Dozens of credible witnesses saw them.

There was no explanation until the Air Force finally ’fessed up to having a gaggle of F-16 jets on “night maneuvers.” Right.

Those Texans around Stephenville know their noisy F-16 s. The lights were not F-16 s.

So what were they ? Sounds like a case for the UFO hunters !

Well, we’ve got your UFO hunters right here. In fact, we have two new shows titled UFO Hunters. One is on the History Channel and the other is on Sci Fi.

Confused ? Not only do they share the same name, they share the same time slot. Two different shows; two different channels; same name; same time. Both air at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

What’s a viewer concerned that aliens are among us to do ? I suggest watching one UFO Hunters and taping the other one for viewing at a later time. Can’t lose with that plan.

Here’s the poop on both shows. UFO Hunters, History Channel version: The series features a crack team of investigators from UFO Magazine as they check out reports of unexplained sightings around the world.

The show features hunters Bill Birnes, Pat Uskert, Dr. Ted Acworth and Jeff Tomlinson as they attempt to separate fact from fiction.

They’ll subject some of history’s most fascinating UFO accounts to scrutiny. Each member brings his own expertise.

Birnes is the magazine’s publisher and Uskert is also with the publication. Tomlinson is the scientific intern with the team. Acworth is a mechanical engineer and researcher who previously worked for NASA. He’s the resident skeptic.

The gang will travel each week to the site of a well-known UFO incident, examine videotapes, audiotapes, witness interviews and formerly secret files opened under the Freedom of Information Act.

Among the incidents to be investigated are the alleged alien abduction of a New Hampshire couple in 1961; the 1980 report by the pilot of a small plane that something froze his controls near Catalina Island; the 2007 report of mysterious debris falling on two villages in Mexico; and the 7, 000-plus reports of strange objects in the Hudson Valley of New York. UFO Hunters, Sci Fi Channel version: This series comes from the folks who bring us Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International.

Seems like a natural progression.

Our crack team of ufologists use their razzle-dazzle bag of high-tech gizmos to investigate claims of UFO sightings and otherworldly experiences.

“What was that ?!” Co-founders Oliver Kemenczky and Ted Davis of New York Strange Phenomena Investigators, along with sidekick Dennis Anderson, investigate, study and reveal their findings after each analysis.

“Over there ! Look ! What was that ?!” I’d be stunned if they proved anything to be true.

TV TIDBITS Bochco’s back. Steven Bochco, 64, is the producer who brought us Hill Street Blues, L. A. Law and NYPD Blue. Bochco has been signed by TNT to turn out 10 episodes of a new legal drama titled Raising the Bar. The series, set for later this year, stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Gloria Reuben, Jane Kaczmarek, Teddy Sears and Melissa Sagemiller as lawyers who went to school together but now find themselves on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Abrams pilot in works. J. J. Abrams (Lost, What About Brian, Alias, Felicity ) is creating a twohour pilot for Fox. Fringe deals with a young female FBI agent who gets into unexplained paranormal phenomena (Mulder ? Scully ?). Weird stuff happens. Strike fallout. The writers are on strike. The networks have holes to fill. Starting Feb. 22, host Drew Carey will kill the CBS’ 7 p.m. Friday hour with The Price Is Right specials.

Ghost Whisperer will slide back to 8 p.m. and Moonlight will go on hiatus. Kenny will be killed. For those who keep asking, South Park’s new season won’t arrive until March 12 on Comedy Central. The series airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday, then encores five more times during the week.

Vile, vile TV. Unfortunately, Comedy Central plans to bring back Lil’ Bush at 9: 30 p.m. March 13. The animated series, featuring folks in the Bush administration as children, is the poster child for insipid TV.

Politics aside, this is bad stuff. You may believe that George W. Bush is the poorest excuse for a president ever to befoul the White House, but that doesn’t make this swill funny. Name change. Don’t go looking for the Discovery Times channel anymore. The thing has morphed into Investigation Discovery. The same thing is true for Court TV. It’s changed to truTV with the new slogan, “Not reality. Actuality.” Hungry for police chases involving reckless booze hounds ? Here’s your actuality. Are you free ? Don’t forget, Are You Being Served, one of the most beloved British sitcoms ever, now airs at 9: 30 p.m. Saturdays on AETN. What goes on in the men’s and ladies’ departments of Grace Brothers Department Store is still as funny as ever. The TV column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. E-mail mstorey@arkansasonline. com

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