Great mys­ter­ies of life

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

THE e-guide word of the week is: Cryp­to­zo­ol­ogy, the study of para­nor­mal or ‘‘ hid­den’’ an­i­mals. These an­i­mals in­clude the Loch Ness mon­ster, chu­pacabras ( ap­par­ently Span­ish for goat sucker) and Big­foot.

The lat­ter is the sub­ject of the now-in­fa­mous TV se­ries Find­ing Big­foot, which has its Aus­tralian pre­miere on An­i­mal Planet next week.

This doc­u­men­tary se­ries first screened in the US in May and is shot in the ‘‘ did you hear that?!’’ style of other para­nor­mal se­ries such as Ghost Hunters.

Find­ing Big­foot fol­lows the ex­ploits of a ded­i­cated group of Amer­i­can sasquatch-hunters called the Big­foot Field Re­searchers Or­gan­i­sa­tion ( BFRO).

They visit some of the Big­foot-sight­ing hotspots in the US in hope of find­ing some kind of con­clu­sive proof of the crea­ture’s ex­is­tence.

But sadly for the show, and BFRO lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Matt Mon­ey­maker, Find­ing Big­foot quickly be­came the tar­get of ridicule for the ex­act op­po­site rea­son.

If they had cap­tured a live one, you would most likely have heard about it by now. I don’t think it is much of a spoiler to say they weren’t very suc­cess­ful.

Much like the team from Ghost Hunters, the BFRO team uses an ar­ray of hi-tech gad­getry in the hunt for its elu­sive prey: night-vi­sion cam­eras, ther­mal-imag­ing equip­ment and so on. Also much like Ghost Hunters, they spend a great deal of time blun­der­ing around in the dark say­ing things like ‘‘ did you hear that?’’ a lot and try­ing to build dra­matic ten­sion around ev­ery crack­ing twig.

The show was al­most uni­ver­sally panned for con­tribut­ing noth­ing to the field of re­search, de­spite its premise of sci­en­tific in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

All it re­ally achieved was mak­ing the en­tire branch of cryp­to­zo­ol­ogy look silly – or, at least, sil­lier.

This is a great shame, since Mon­ey­maker was con­sid­ered to be a leader in his field and a re­li­able au­thor­ity on Big­foot.

He has con­trib­uted some in­trigu­ing ev­i­dence over the years, most no­tably record­ings of howls that don’t match any known an­i­mal and the sound of knock­ing on trees ( which he be­lieves is a form of long-dis­tance com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the crea­tures).

Sadly, vig­or­ous sci­en­tific re­search and eval­u­a­tion of ev­i­dence makes for pretty bor­ing tele­vi­sion so Find­ing Big­foot re­sorted to sim­ply film­ing the BFRO team crash­ing around in the woods and act­ing star­tled.

The scant ev­i­dence pro­duced by the se­ries was du­bi­ous at best and laugh­able at worst, much to the dis­may of other cryp­to­zo­ol­o­gists who al­ready strug­gle to be taken se­ri­ously.

On the up­side, Find­ing Big­foot is good for a laugh – and a big hairy cringe. Find­ing Big­foot pre­miere, An­i­mal Planet ( Aus­tar), Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 18, 7.30pm

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