Ancient Aliens: 10th Anniversary Gift Set DVD Review: A Lot Like Pro Wrestling

I still want to believe, despite the bad haircuts and lack of anything even remotely resembling the scientific process.
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It’s hard to believe that a full decade has passed since the first episode of Ancient Aliens aired on the History Channel. I consulted Google to determine the traditional gift for a 10th anniversary and what do you know - it turned out to be tin or aluminum. This seems like the perfect opportunity to make a tin-foil-hat joke, but perhaps a more appropriate, albeit more expensive gift choice would be the newly released Ancient Aliens 10th Anniversary Edition DVD Gift Set from Lionsgate and the History Channel. This set consists of 36 discs featuring over 120 hours of thought-provoking content in both full and widescreen presentation. So if you haven’t already seen every episode during the seemingly never-ending Ancient Aliens marathon that is airing on the History Channel every time you turn on the television, now you can relive the magic, or witness it for the first time, any time you wish.

From the age of the dinosaurs to the days of ancient Egypt and all the way to Nazi Germany, if there’s a vague and tangential coincidence or glaring lack of evidence, you can be sure to find a way to connect the dots back to visitation from interstellar beings long, long ago. Now, before you dismiss me as some sort of snob or naysayer due to my snarky opening, let me first remind you that this is the Internet and everyone is a jerk here, and then indulge me while I give you a little background on myself. I cut my teeth on “In Search Of…” when I was a kid and I still read Chariots of the Gods even after I knew that Erich Von Daniken had been discredited for faking evidence. Listen, I’ve got a half-sleeve tattoo featuring Stonehenge, Egyptian pyramids, Mayan temples, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, a bunch of UFOs, and those big ol’ Easter Island heads. If I was willing to endure the pain of getting that shit tattooed on the inside of my arm and right next to my nipple (which was seriously painful), then surely you can't just dismiss me as your run-of-the-mill skeptic, can you? I’ve smoked plenty of weed in my day and as a lifelong fan of comic books and science fiction, there’s nothing I’d love more than to find out that our ancestors communicated with intergalactic travellers and once possessed secrets far beyond our comprehension. I’m a bit like that famous X-Files poster - I want to believe.

But lets face it, folks: as interested as I am in history’s mysteries and as open-minded as I try to be, if you’re trying to convince me that beings descended from the heavens to shape the history of our planet, crazy hair and weird mustaches might not be the best route to take. I’m cool with being unique and original when it comes to style, but if you want to present me with credible facts, maybe try presenting yourself as a more credible source? Maybe don’t wear the sweater vest, tousled hair, and John Quincy Adams-style mutton chops when you’re attempting to convince me you've got proof that the reason why Viking ships didn’t sink was because they were utilizing alien technology. 

Yes, this program isn't just limited to the classic Egyptian and Mayan stories you're no doubt familiar with, but extends all the way to Vikings. Or, it did after they got a few seasons in and started running out of material. Apparently the Vikings' desire to travel had less to do with humanity’s innate need to explore and more to do with alien visitors… uh… something. I’m not really sure what the point of that episode was; I kinda tuned out. But it stands as a testament to the lengths this show goes to in order to make their point. Much like Agent Fox Mulder, who could manage to find a way to connect the corpse of a werewolf riddled with silver bullets to an alien invasion, Ancient Aliens is intent on connecting the dots between damn near every event that has ever taken place in our history with the tenuous thread of interstellar visitation. And that's where it all starts to lose me. The further you get into the series, the more dubious those connections become. I eventually came to the conclusion that the Ancient Alien Theory just boils down to “If we aren’t sure, it’s probably aliens and if we already know the answer, it’s probably aliens anyway." I mean, there’s a lot of unexplained mystery in ancient history, and I'm the kind of guy who's always at the ready to book a trip to Atlantis - but it can’t all be aliens, can it? Are humans capable of accomplishing anything on their own? And when they start applying the Ancient Aliens Theory onto historical events that don't even need an explanation... I'm sorry, but it just sort of turns into a joke. And it’s not just limited to actual historical figures and events; King Arthur, Merlin, vampires, Greek, Norse and Roman mythology - it all gets tied into the Ancient Aliens Theory. Basically, everything that has ever happened ever is a result of aliens. Period. Your mom is probably an alien. 

Curiously, I don’t recall any episodes focusing on Christianity or any claims that Jesus was an alien, but perhaps I just missed that one or wasn’t paying attention. After a point, it all just sort of blends together as a mix of dramatic music, blurry photographs, and European accents, so that episode may very well exist and I just didn’t catch it. Nevertheless, I began to see connections between the Ancient Aliens Theory and my own Catholic-school upbringing - namely that some being (or beings) from the sky created everything and despite the lack of solid evidence, we should all just have faith and believe.  Where mythology and religion once filled in the gaps before humanity understood science, Ancient Aliens seeks to fill in the gaps that science has yet to explain. Luckily, the belief that aliens stacked a bunch of big rocks up in an interesting fashion is pretty cool and isn’t likely to lead to a centuries-long history of war, violence, and discrimination, so I’m actually going to give the point to the Ancient Aliens Theory here, even if it's just trading one unprovable sky diety for another. 

And maybe none of that really matters anyway? Maybe the show and the entire Ancient Aliens Theory are just the scientific equivalent to professional wrestling or a really cool card trick?  Remember back in the day, before Vince McMahon admitted that wrestling was a work in order to avoid paying state athletic fees? Remember when you’d watch burly men wind up their arms like a cartoon character in order to make a punch more effective or stomp their feet when they threw that punch which undoubtedly missed their opponent by several inches, but you still believed in it anyway? Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many folks still believed wrestling was all on the level, simply because they never admitted that it wasn’t. And that was part of the fun! As a longtime fan of pro rasslin’, I can still attest to the fact that if you focus too much on picking apart the realism or lack thereof, you’re kinda missing the entire point. Relaxing and going with the flow is all part of the enjoyment.

And after watching a lot of Ancient Aliens and seeing familiar patterns of increasingly shaky synchronicity being passed off as evidence, I began to wonder if we are all just taking it all too seriously and missing the point? Maybe all of these pseudo-scientists and philosophers who present us with over five straight days of sincere testimonials on this collection of DVDs are all just in on a grand illusion and we’ve become too hung up on legitimate scientific process to just relax, spark up a bowl, and go along for the ride simply because it’s a lot more fun than the alternative? Or maybe, like so many fans of professional wrestling, even they don’t know where the line between reality and fantasy is? Instead of believing or not believing, itsn't it just more fun to want to believe?

At any rate, Ancient Aliens is a lot like pro wrestling, in that it reminds me of an old adage, which states: “For those who don’t believe, no explanation will do; but for those who do believe, no explanation is necessary.” This show is like the music of the band Rush. You probably either hate or love it with every fiber of your being and no middle ground is allowed. Or you might be more like me, that rare bird with the greatest hits on your shelf and no real desire to go any further. You want to believe, but you don't have to, and you're content with just listening to "Tom Sawyer" to pump you up on your drive into work every morning. 

I'm all over the place here and you likely don’t care about my own personal philosophies on Ancient Aliens, religion, or professional wrestling anyway. You wanna know if this box set is worth it, right? Well, it retails at $99.98, which is a savings of almost 50% over buying each season individually, and I’ve seen it on Amazon for like, $60 or something, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. As far as the presentation goes, it’s pretty barebones and somewhat inconsistent. Some of the earlier seasons feature fancy artwork on the discs themselves, but apparently the budget ran out for later seasons, which have either a gray or black face with no artwork. Some of the seasons have episodes broken down in short chapters, making it easy to find the specific part of the show you’re looking for; others do not. The packaging is a little flimsy, but your discs seem secured pretty safely, so they aren't likely to fall out and there’s little chance of them getting scratched or ruined.  The whole thing just seems kind of cobbled together, but like I said - you can pick it up for pretty cheap, so I guess it’s not a big deal. The sound and picture quality is nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either. It’s pretty much like watching it on TV.

So it’s up to you, dear reader. Do you want to believe? Do you want to believe for five whole days straight? Or do you just like to entertain the notion that there's more to life than we understand and have a good time watching a bunch of cool shit about history and flying saucers, regardless of how seriously you take it? If so, then you probably oughtta pick this one up. 

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