Great mysteries of life
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