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Case Number 07091: Small Claims Court

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A&E's Ancient Mysteries: Bigfoot

A&E // 1994 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // June 29th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Dennis Prince is glad he's completed this entrance requirement into the Ghostbusters.

The Charge

"Either the most complex and sophisticated hoax in the history of anthropology has continued for centuries without being exposed, or the most manlike and largest non-human primate on Earth has managed to survive in parts of North America and remains undiscovered by modern science."

-- G.W. Gill, President of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology

Opening Statement

Admittedly, right behind the unsolved riddles of UFOs comes the mystery of Bigfoot and the notion that a giant hairy creature has freely roamed the Pacific Northwest of the United States for centuries. While it has served as terrific inspiration for pseudo-documentaries (The Legend of Boggy Creek), tantalizing tele-dramas (The Six-Million-Dollar Man: "The Secret of Bigfoot"), and countless wide-eyed campfire yarns, the tale of Bigfoot and the veritable enclave of sasquatch is just as enticing and interesting to this day.

Facts of the Case

Much as we all wonder what we'd do if we saw an actual UFO, the thought of encountering a sasquatch is truly chilling. We dismiss it as the sort of story that is used to frighten children, yet we certainly take pause when confronted with clues about the creatures' possible existence.

After his well-managed reinvention and reemergence into the public eye with 1977's In Search Of series, Leonard Nimoy proved he had much more talent beyond a pair of pointy ears and a tightly-trimmed set of bangs. Serving mainly as voice-over narrator, Nimoy's aural intonations left us mesmerized, his matter-of-fact yet slightly mysterious proclamations lending an undeniable air of possibility, probability, and even legitimacy to the myths and legends that permeate our culture as well as the cultures of others around the world. In Search Of became a tremendous hit, found long-running existence in reruns long after its cancellation in 1982, and propelled Nimoy into the documentary and narration realm. Here, we catch up with him in a compelling episode of A&E's similarly successful investigative series, Ancient Mysteries, and look again at the fascinating possibility of a race of giant humanoid creatures in an episode titled simply, "Bigfoot."

There's much presented in this 50-minute documentary that you've likely already heard or known: that the creature has been mentioned for centuries in discovered historical records, oldest being from the annals of Leif Erickson in 986 A.D.; that it's been spotted in each of the 50 states but most frequently in the Pacific Northwest; that it moves about almost silently, mostly at dark, bears a strong stench that can be smelled for yards, and leaves behind giant footprints. Still, a creature has yet to be captured, dead or alive, and therefore leaves it in the often skeptical realm of myth, legend, and mass hysteria. Peter Byrne, long-time director of the Bigfoot Research Project, continues his decades-old quest of the species, sharing with us that he believes the creatures possess reasonable intelligence to know that man is its most dangerous enemy and, therefore, have devised many ways to remain undiscovered (including hiding their own tracks). Dr. Grover Krantz, anthropologist and long-time researcher, speaks of his experiences tracing the physical evidence of this "Gigantipithicus" creature. Most compelling in his interview segments are his observations of the famous yet perpetually controversial 1967 footage captured by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin. Based on conceptual models of the creature's enormous skull and body structure, Krantz points to a segment of the footage that makes it plausible that this was not a staged event featuring a man in a hairy suit.

Whatever your belief or disbelief in the creature's existence (and zoologist Dr. John Crane serves as the resident doubting Thomas), this lean 50-minute excursion is entertaining and thought-provoking. It's presented in its original full-frame broadcast format and looks quite good. Technically, the transfer has been managed very competently, yet you should expect varying image quality as the show presents various amateur film segments of purported Bigfoot sightings. The audio is well managed in a nice Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. There are no extras on this disc.

Closing Statement

If you have an hour to spare and are interested in revisiting the legend of Bigfoot while perhaps learning a few new facts or theories about this elusive creature (finally, I've gotten an answer to my question regarding why we've never found a deceased or decomposed specimen), you'll likely enjoy this straightforward investigation that may conjure up more questions in your mind.

The Verdict

One thing's for certain: until we can categorically disprove this creature's existence and refute all evidence brought forth to this day, we'll probably all be looking over our shoulders if ever we're out trudging through deep woods.

Hey! What's that big thing back there in the trees? Uh, case dismissed. I'm getting outta here.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: A&E
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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