Destination Truth: Best Season Yet!

Sci Fi Channel's - oops, sorry - Syfy Channel's - dark horse Destination Truth is pulling in its strongest season yet.  The show's third season premiered on September 9, and two episodes have aired so far.  The first episode ("Haunted Forest/Alux") "hit a series high with 2.1 million [viewers]" according to Wikipedia, and deservedly so.  Aside from the terror of the chartered biplane's roof ripping off, the collection of footage from the haunted Romanian clearing was wonderfully chilling.

"Destination Truth" seemed to begin life as an afterthought, something to cap Ghost Hunters night.  It was pitched to the audience as "Ghost Hunters for cryptozoology," and for its first season, the show stayed close to that mandate.  Many of the early episodes suffer from a surfeit of earnestness, and rely too heavily on the backpack cameras worn by the crew to heighten suspense, Blair Witch style.

The show, led by Josh Gates, started to loosen up in its second season.  I can't point to a specific episode where I realized that the tone of the show had shifted, but shift it did.  Don't get me wrong - everyone involved in the show is still passionately committed to investigating each report, and investigating to the best of their abilities.  But at some point it seems like the show finally decided to admit to itself that at least half the reported creatures are just crazy stuff the locals invented, either out of whole cloth or while drunk on whatever alcoholic beverage the region specializes in.  

Many of the first season episodes suffered from a crushing futility of time and resources.  How likely is it REALLY that the investigative team will capture evidence about any given jungle monster, in the course of the one single night the crew has budgeted for investigation?  Destination Truth suffers from a geographic and mathematical problem: half the time it takes the team at least three days just to reach the investigation site.  At which point they can only spend one night investigating before heading back to California.  People spend their entire lives searching for hard evidence of cryptozoological beasts like Sasquatch or the Mokele-Mbembe.

As the third season dawns, Destination Truth has finally relaxed into the true genius of its role: as a combination of armchair travel and armchair cryptozoology.  With the exception of some startling highlights, most of the fun of the show comes from the trip there and back.  Whether it's watching host Joshua Gates convince his crew members to eat Balut (a Philippine delicacy - eggs left to develop baby chicks, then cooked and served with a dash of vinegar) or gaping as the team walks nervously towards the prop driven biplane they have chartered in Romania (a flight which does not go well, by the way), the fun of Destination Truth is definitely in the journey.

Both of the first two Season Three episodes which have aired are currently available on Hulu.  The episodes will expire soon, with Hulu's standard "five rolling" agreement.

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