america unearthed

If you haven't heard of this show yet, you're probably far from alone. At least some of the other shows on History Two had their start on the more readily available original History channel such as "Ancient Aliens" and "The Universe". "America Unearthed" is a History Two original though. However, the star of the show first came into the larger public eye or at least the television public eye on the original History channel. His name is Scott Wolter and he's as he puts it, a "forensic geologist". 

 Before we get too far into his current show, I think to really understand where Wolter is coming from we have to take a quick look at the History channel special where he gained the fame which most likely lead to the new series. I believe it was called something like "Holy Grail in America". It was something like two hours long if I remember correctly. Now, I could be getting my history channel specials mixed up, because I've just seen so many of them. But I do remember what happened in the one Wolter was in. I'm just not sure about that being the right name. Anyway, whatever else was going on in the special, Wolter's part in all this was to identify and determine the validity of an artifact known as the Kensington rune stone. Many archeologists had written this thing off as a hoax for years and years, saying that it couldn't possibly be genuine. You see, this stone was dated before Columbus' voyage to America, was found near the heart of what is the United States today, and was written in Scandenavien runes. At the time which this was "found" or as the archeologists of the time would have suggested, "hoaxed", it was still widely believed that Columbus was the first in the "New World" and this would have possibly caused a change in the history books had it been verified. Archeologists being a pig headed bunch and set in their ways, marked it as a forgery right away. 

 Enter Scott Wolter. Well, long story short, he dated the amount of weathering and took into account the condition and location the stone was dug up from and came to the conclusion that although the runes had been traced over to kind of clean them up by the unknowing farmer who had found them, the original impressions used to make the message on the stone were in fact from the same time period which the writing on the stone indicated. Archeologists still scoffed at this and said he was wrong, because there was no European presense in America in that time period. They "knew" this for a fact. Yet Wolter was insistent that his conclusions were accurate, because the science behind it doesn't lie. He was surprised and one would think quite annoyed by this and we're lead to believe he came away with a bit of bitterness where mainstream archeologists are concerned and their unwillingness to bend to new evidence and rewrite things which they believed before if they turn out to be wrong. That's something which I personally am in great agreement with Wolter on. As Sherlock Holmes said, "We must form theories to fit facts and not the other way around." You can't have a preconceived notion of what the outcome of something you're investigating may be or else you are likely to ignore the things which don't fit into what you believe and possibly even embelish those that might fit with your theory. 

 Anyway, this type of occurance is what leads us to the basis for "America Unearthed". The show features Wolter going on jobs to prove or dissprove the validity of artifacts all over the country while exploring what he calls "forbidden archeology". These are the things which mainstream archeology doesn't believe could ever be true and so they spend relatively little time investigating them or so we are to believe at least. And to me, this sounds like a pretty aweseome idea for a show. However, there are a few problems and especially so in the first two or three episodes of the series. Although the cases are interesting themselves, there is such an overdramatization of the way in which the cases are carried out that it takes away from the realism of the show and makes it look more scripted. For example, we don't need to have fifteen different explanations of why Wolter is there or what the people he's talking to care about in each case. That might sound like nitpicking, but if you watch those first few shows, I'm sure you'll see what I mean. Also, it seems a bit unrealistic that Wolter is always meeting people for the "first" time and there's already cameras in the person's home or  workplace and cameras following Wolter and "Oh! What a surprise to see you here right now!" Like the guy behind the camera that's been recording you for the last hour or so didn't tip you off at all. It's really pretty bad at times and very cringe worthy. Honestly, as much as I was interested in some of the topics of the first few episodes, I couldn't get past that enough to watch the whole hour length of the shows. I tried repeatedly and just had to keep turning it off. I was optimistic enough to the give the show another shot after about episode four or five I think and maybe it's just me, but it seems like it's gotten better about the dramatization. Its still over the top, but at least I can bear to watch it now. It is a good concept for a show and having a geologist's point of view on these types of things is kind of unique I think. So, if the show can keep tweaking itself here and there and getting enough interesting material for cases, I think its worth watching. By all means, give it a try yourself and see what you think.