BY BRIAN GODAR
Does anybody actually remember when the History Channel (I mean History, since they are trying to take over the entire genre of “things that happened before now”) did what its name implies and broadcast entertaining history-based TV shows? No? Don’t feel too bad, because those memories are fading for me as well. The onset of tangentially history-related reality shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers brought an end to shows about Hitler, D-Day, and dogfights (don’t get too excited Mr. Vick, that’s planes, not actual dogs).
Now, the closest we get to history are TV shows telling us that every famous event in human history was done either directly by aliens, or by humans who were taught by aliens (Ancient Aliens and Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, I’m looking at you). These shows were created to cater to the apocalypse-crazed among us, and boy did we eat that up. They became the most popular and widely watched shows on the network. Mindless sheep flocked to them, eating up every “fact,” like being told that people in ancient Egypt were so inferior that they couldn’t build the pyramids themselves using ingenuity: it had to be aliens. Then there’s my personal favorite, the theory that Albert Einstein was channeling aliens when he came up with his theory of relativity.
This shift toward aliens and the occult ushered in the next wave of History shows with a focus on sensationalism and paradoxically, the future. We all know that History pioneered the idea of the December 21, 2012 apocalypse when that was nothing more than a meme floating around the internet. They took the idea and ran with it, even though the Mayans never predicted it in the first place (that date is the end of one cycle of the Mayan long-count calendar. More specifically, that date is the end of the fourth cycle, so it’s definitely not the end of the world). This is evidenced in some of their more sensationalist shows like Life After Us, The Nostradamus Effect, Countdown to Apocalypse, and After Armageddon. In fact, there were so many apocalypse-based shows from 2009 – 2012 that I am surprised History has anything left to broadcast now that December 21st is so far behind us.
That brings up the question: What direction will History go in?
History created a new slogan around the same time they dropped “Channel” from their name. The slogan is, “History: Made Every Day,” and it may be one of the most ingenious examples of rebranding that I have ever seen. With the new slogan, everything counts as history. You brushing your teeth in the morning is history. Don’t agree? Wait until tomorrow, then WHAM! Brushing your teeth today just became history. That’s the logic History is operating under, and as such, that is the logic I am going to use to determine how to fill the gap in programming. As such, here are three new show ideas for History.
3. I Drink Your Milkshake
In an ode to Daniel Day-Lewis, History is naming this show about drilling for oil after his famous rant in There Will Be Blood. If Ice Road Truckers gets a spot on History because the drivers are “making history” by driving in such poor conditions, then a show about drilling for the last remaining pockets of oil certainly qualifies as making history as well. This show would combine the appeal of manly men doing a manly man job, like in Ice Road Truckers and Axe Men, with education as they explore the history of oil drilling and the future of the energy industry (it’s a lot less boring than I just made it sound, even though I invented it so it doesn’t really exist).
2. NASA: Alien Hunters
Read that title again and tell me you wouldn’t watch this show based solely from that. My idea is that since NASA has been struggling lately, they wouldn’t mind if we used some of their crazier-looking, facial hair-wearing scientists in a show about how NASA would attempt to defend our planet from alien invaders, and how we can proactively dissuade aliens from attacking. This series would explore real-life solutions to insane problems like, “what would we do if there was an alien invasion?” Currently, a majority of the world doesn’t even believe in extraterrestrial life, so we are sorely lacking in any defensive measures. When the time comes, it would be best if NASA could look back at this show to get all their ideas, rather than having to spend the valuable time creating these solutions from scratch.
1. The NEXT Apocalypse show: 2020, The Return of Jesus
OK, I really couldn’t help myself. I honestly can’t see History making any drastic changes and becoming more like how they were when they actually cared about history. With that in mind, I am focusing on the next apocalyptic prediction. The next prediction dealing with end of the world event is in 2020 with the return of Jesus. In this vision, Jesus does battle with the Anti-Christ, Satan, and the False Prophet until the year 2037. So really, History gets over seven years of talking about the impending apocalypse, plus another 17 years of current event episodes discussing point-by-point the fight between Jesus (using some sort of nunchaku, I assume) and the Trifecta of Evil ™. All the power players are there, and History can combine footage from their old religious documentaries with current discussions by scholars, which would lower costs and make them more money. Oh, and Giorgio Tsoukalos, the guy with the crazy hair on Ancient Aliens, would host it. Obviously.