From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose.nul> Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 09:58:59 +0100 Archived: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 07:48:52 -0500 Subject: Sci Fi Channel Has Close Encounters Source: Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/headline/entertainment/1670770 Stig *** Nov. 20, 2002, 6:28PM ALIEN AFFECTION Sci Fi Channel has close encounters; does it have answers? By ANN HODGES, Houston Chronicle TV Critic Copyright 2002 ** Now we know where Bryant Gumbel went after hauling anchor at CBS' This Morning show. He's in the New Mexico desert, looking for UFO evidence and little alien creatures. On Friday, he'll report what he's found, in a two-hour Sci Fi Channel special, The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence. Gumbel and Sci Fi are dead serious about this, and for a seriously synergetic reason. On Dec. 2, the channel will launch its blockbuster 10- night miniseries, Steven Spielberg Presents 'Taken.' Spielberg's drama spans from 1945 to today, and weaves together four generations of three families whose members experience abductions by space aliens. That, of course, also explains the hourlong special that follows Friday's Startling New Evidence.It is titled, most appropriately, Abduction Diaries, a parade of seemingly sound- minded, intelligent talking heads, telling tales (with dramatic re-creations) of what they say are their own real-life close encounters with alien beings. On both shows, statistics from Roper Polls 2002 beam up the rationale for viewer interest in this far-out subject: Four of 10 Americans believe a spacecraft crashed near Roswell. One in five Americans believes in abductions, and one in seven knows or knows of someone who has seen or had a close encounter with aliens. Seventy-four percent of Americans say they're "psychologically ready" for proof of extraterrestrial life. Of these two specials, Abduction Diaries is the one most likely to intrigue, by virtue of its personal stories. This makes no attempt to question those stories, of course, and skeptics could certainly point out that the fact that most of these tales are very similar is not surprising at all. The subject of abductions has been thoroughly covered already, over the many years that people have been claiming them. With these people, alien visitations began when they were children, and dealing with them through the years has made their lives harder. But now that they're older and wiser, most see it as a positive thing. "I've experienced it for 50 years," says Landi Mellas, who claims she was first visited at age 7. She says they told her they would help save some people when Earth was destroyed. "I love many of these beings. I don't consider them aliens at all," Mellas says. "I'm very grateful. It has made me a better person." At Roswell, it's the same familiar story -- the crash of July 1947, and years of rumors and claims that the U.S. government covered up the crash of a flying saucer and the discovery of alien beings, including a couple of survivors. Gumbel's TV promise of "fresh, startling new evidence" relies on three things: New interviews with aging eyewitnesses or family and friends of eyewitnesses, who say the time has come to tell that it was a spacecraft and the creatures were real. An archaeological team from the University of New Mexico, digging in the desert to locate the crash site and debris that would prove it was something from outer space. A San Francisco computer researcher who claims to hold "the smoking gun" to prove "creatures" were at the crash site. What those investigators found is embargoed until after the show; Sci Fi Channel made me promise. I must say, though, that production-wise, this Roswell show is pretty cheesy, and its spooky music and slippery subliminal re- creations of "creatures" don't help. As for Gumbel's role -- I couldn't help thinking of Geraldo Rivera's empty vaults. Ah, well. They report; you decide. The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence, 7 p.m. Friday, Sci Fi Channel. Grade: C-. Abduction Diaries,9 p.m. Friday, Sci Fi Channel. Grade: C+.
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