An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates

Give Julie a Break

I think some reviewers are being a little unfair to Julie Montagu. Some label her unqualified and too over-awed to educate the viewer as to the history of the great estates she visits. but this show’s whole reason for being , it’s hook, so to speak, is her experience (or inexperience) and perspective. She is an American who married into the British nobility, a fish out of water at the time. Along with a drug addicted husband who was not given the proper treatment he needed, she had to deal with a money-sucking estate. She wants to save it and make it a successful concern. So she is touring great estates of the U.K. gathering knowledge and ideas she might be able to apply to her own situation. The owners of which, by the way, are very very very grateful and eager for the publicity. It is not a documentary hosted by a historian or narrated by a disembodied voice. We are living vicariously in her shoes and sharing in her unabashed excitement and awe. If you want a dry objective history, there are plenty of others to choose from. This show is all about Julie’s unique perspective and her challenging mission.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

October 3, 2020

Mysteries Decoded

Burst Bubbles

I’ve only seen a couple of episodes but so far I am very impressed with this show hosted by Jennifer Marshall. What an impressive resume. A true renaissance woman. Anyway, I appreciate the level-headed approach to the sometimes wackadoodle conspiracy theories and histrionic speculation that plague most of these programs. She uncovers the true story behind the urban myths that gullible birdbrains cling to. It was a pleasure to see some burst bubbles of those whose whole reason for being centers on the existence of Bigfoot, for example. But she is kind and polite, if no-nonsense. I will definitely be looking at more episodes. I hope she keeps up the good work. Would love to see her partner up with Josh Gates.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

September 22, 2020

Expedition Unknown

Probably About 80% Fairly Legit

This show is pretty much the real deal although it does tweak timelines, pretends old discoveries are being revealed for the first time, and probably more little line-blurrings for dramatic effect. It has just enough real history and discoveries to make it legit in my eyes. For example, I was watching What on Earth and I think some show with Secrets in the title on the Smithsonian channel. One was about Hitler’s supposed Argentinian hideaway called Inalco house, and the other was on the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia. Both hosts tried to gain access to the sites- get permission to visit the island in one case, and talk to the Monk guarding the Ark in the other, and they couldn’t even get close. They were turned away. Talk about Lame! These are two cases where Josh was granted full access. Josh even found a Nazi Coin at Inalco house. And he and the monk are now best buddies (Just Kidding) but the monk who guards the the Ark did come out to talk to him. And you can’t beat Josh for charisma and humor. It’s a very entertaining and educational show as long as you follow with your own independent research later.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

September 11, 2020

Hometown Horror

Real People Not Trying to Make a Living Getting Scared by Fake Ghosts.

I’ve only seen one and a half episodes of this (the Perryville episode) but thought that it was a lot more credible than most of these ghost shows that have a team of investigators that go from site to site. The team members are usually so childish (seeing and hearing ghosts everywhere when it is just a squirrel in the attic or entities that are never actually caught on camera unless it is a bug or dust on a camera lens.) They plead with the “ghosts” to respond to their questions and taunts but when they think they hear something, they freak out. This episode just had what appeared to be real people just telling of their experiences over a re-enactment. The interviewees seem very authentic unlike the teams who are trying to earn a living by being famous and so will choose drama over truth. The re-enactment part is over-dramatized with jump scares but what do you expect? I will be watching more of these episodes. I liked the history and background as well.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

January 25, 2020

The Dan Patrick Show

Juvenile Boy’s Club

I am an occasional watcher. Should say was, because it is no longer being simulcast. I enjoy a good bit of sports radio and TV and consider myself very knowledgeable about the genre. Dan is a very good interviewer and his show can be both fun and news breaking. However as a female watcher, I also find it juvenile and immature. I admire sports personalities (journalists? entertainers?) who can carry a show by themselves or with one or two support people. apparently Dan does need his posse to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately it contributes to a boy’s club mentality that is very grating to many women. Those sports Illustrated cover posters are really just over the top in this day and age. I’m no man-hating feminist nor PC liberal always looking to be offended. I’m just saying the show gives out messages that many sports-loving women would find off putting. That we were not quite welcome there. If that is intentional, well, that’s fine. Some men need a mancave where No Girls are Allowed. It is what it is. If not, a word to the wise.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

March 8, 2019

Caribbean Pirate Treasure

Great Couple, Great Life.

This is an interesting and fun show, thanks to the two principals, Philippe Cousteau Jr. and his wife, Ashlan. It’s a shame that it has such a cheesy title, because searching for pirate treasure is just an excuse for scuba exploration, beautiful scenery, and spending some time with the charismatic and attractive couple. Talk about vicarious pleasure! Philippe’s pedigree and background, Ashlan’s charm and down-to-earth beauty, and the adventurous and romantic life they lead: Can anything be more perfect?!**7 stars out of 10**

October 27, 2017

Mysteries at the Museum

Like a Sound Machine, but Really Really Interesting

This is a great show. It is amazing what fascinating little nuggets of history they dig up. Some of the stories are so compelling I am continually amazed that they aren’t more well known. Some of them would make great films. I will very often research the stories on my own to get more information. Usually, the portrayals are fairly accurate, although they do emphasize certain aspects and play down (or ignore) others for dramatic purposes.

I usually DVR the show and watch it in bed, preparing to go to sleep. As fascinating as it is, conversely, it has a somnolent affect on me, and I usually have to re watch 2 or even 3 times to get through all of the stories. I think it is partly due to the reliable and unchanging rhythm of the show. They start out each entry the same way: First, they introduce the city the museum is in, some of the other museum holdings, then describing the physicality of the artifact in question. Then they tell the story that the artifact represents (sometimes the link is pretty tenuous) with silent actors pantomiming the narration.

The narration itself has its own certain conceits: then never use one word when three will do, and adjectives abound. They never use a simple word, when a fancy one exists. (It’s never a book, It’s an “ancient tome” . People don’t die, they “succumb to injuries”). Another little conceit is the rhetorical question and the use of puns. For example, In the story of the Double Eagle balloon crossing of the Atlantic: “Will their “lofty” ambitions be fulfilled? Will the balloon rise to the occasion? Will a slave that worked as a seamstress trying to get confederate plans to the Union be able to “thread the needle” and sneak past guards? How did a brassiere “boost” a young mother’s bank account?” I love it. It’s amusing.

Don Wildman, the host, is superb. He has a great tone, and conveys a sense of urgency, when called for, without getting all worked up. And he always has this kind of amused inflection. Plus he is very easy on the eyes.

Another thing that is part of the predictable comfortable rhythm is timing and flow. When they finish one story, they immediately start the next one, saving the commercial break until a crucial cliffhanger. After the commercial break, they briefly recap the story and proceed. This is good for fast forwarding through the commercials, or if you doze off during the story, you can get up to speed without having to rewind. I swear, it’s the same pattern over and over. It’s like waves crashing on a beach. Two other shows that are just as good are Mysteries of the Monument and Mysteries of the Castle**9 stars out of 10**

December 16, 2016