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Destination Truth Retreats From Cryptozoology

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 30th, 2009

“I think when I look at the globe the places that I’m most kind of gravitated towards along with places like Southeast Asia is I’m really kind of intrigued by a lot of these small Pacific island nations,” says the host of Destination Truth (DT), talking about season three.

Malaysia Bigfoot Cast

DT’s slow departure from taking side trips to exotic locations, talking to locals for a day about cryptids, appears to have changed into a full and quick retreat.

During the first year of Destination Truth, under the executive production of Neil Mandt for Mandt Bros. Productions, best known for their hard-hitting style on ESPN’s “Jim Rome Is Burning,” the show had potential. Neil actually, for the first season, was out there in the mud and rain with the host, which I thought was a big plus for the series.

Malaysia Bigfoot

Josh Gates, the one-time actor and reality show (“Beg, Borrow, & Deal”) contestant, became the host of Destination Truth during pre-production in 2006.

Malaysia Bigfoot
Johor track cast.

As you may recall, one of the promised first shows for DT in 2007 was on the Johor Bigfoot, which got them lots of publicity when they discovered a footprint in 2006. Then for season two, it was the finds of interestingly, similar footprints, allegedly of a Nepalese Yeti that generated lots of media attention just at the right time, pre-season. Cryptozoology was their theme, supposedly.

Remarkably similar and uncharacteristic Yeti track cast.

Indeed, during that first year, cryptozoology was what the program was largely about, with shows on the Malaysian Bigfoot, the Chilean Chupacabras, the Ropen of New Guinea, and the Wolfman of Argentina. Six episodes of the sixty-minute shows, divided into two topics each, began airing in June 2007.

After mixed reviews, personally I found what I saw encouraging. I wrote in 2007 that it was an “on-target, serious, contemporary, fun, adventurous effort to show ‘living cryptozoology.’”

Josh Gates (of DT) and Amanda Tapping (Samantha Carter) at the Sci Fi Channel 2008 upfront party in New York. Promotional Photo: Mark Wilson/About.com

But little known to the viewing public, all was not happy behind the scenes of DT. What emerged, reportedly after the Mandt Brothers refused to modify their high-production value shooting standards, was that Neil Mandt and his company departed the show after season one. Josh Gates took over as the executive producer.

The show subtly showed this shift in the 2008 season. As it moves into the third season, Gates will be putting more of his stamp on the program.

One of the ways this appears to be presenting itself is through a withdrawal of cryptozoology topics.

Here are the topics being publicly erected as the prominent ones for the upcoming nine episode season that will be DT3: haunted forests, Island of the Dolls, King Tut’s tomb, Ghosts of Chernobyl, the Bermuda Triangle, and an extraterrestrial show in the deserts of Chile.

The subjects weren’t mentioned, but DT will apparently be in “the frontier of Alaska and also in the swamps of Florida.”

Where’s the cryptozoology? Gates notes in a new interview that the show “always do a sort of big story on Big Foot (sic) or one of the sort of Sasquatch stories.”

Humm?

Furthermore, he did say that they are “going to be doing some stuff in the Amazon.”

“And so we’re going to be continuing our Yeti story we did in Season 2 which was in Nepal by doing a one-hour special in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan which was a great episode and a really beautiful country for us to showcase,” Gates remarked.

Okay.

But why so few cryptozoology stories?

This week, Troy Rogers in The Deadbolt Interview asks Gates a question that gets to some of the answer: “Are there any other places like that that you haven’t been able to go for political reasons?”

Gates’ replies: “There are a few places. I mean, there is also a certain safety threshold for NBC [the owner of SyFy], right? I mean, there is a certain level of danger that they are not willing to assume the risk of. And so there’s a couple of great cryptozoological stories in Central and Western Africa. And we’ve just never really been able to do it because they’re in countries that are not politically stable enough to film it. And that’s not necessarily even just an NBC issue, it’s an issue for us to. I think that we don’t mind going to places that are a little bit unstable. But I think you have to have a certain degree of safety on the horizon. And there are a few countries where that’s just not the case. There’s some great stuff around the Congo in terms of these stories. But it’s just we’ve never been able to figure out a way to do it safely enough. I’m sure that we will at some point make our way into India because it’s just such a vibrant culture that we’d love to experience. And there’s good stories in places like Sri Lanka and it just sort of depends on how you hit the sort of political current.”

(MonsterQuest got around the political situation in the Congo basin by sending in their Mokele-mbembe expedition to the neighboring Republic of Cameroon, where several of the last few decades of Mokele-mbembe explorations have focused their energies.)

What’s in the future for DT?

Well, Gates gives a big hint: “For me it’s often about locations…I’m really kind of intrigued by a lot of these small Pacific island nations…there are a couple of great stories or many great stories in the Pacific from Polynesian curses to cursed or haunted islands. There are shipwrecks….I certainly would love to figure out a way to maybe we do a season where we take the show on a boat and we go around the Pacific or something. But that’s a part of the world that I really want to kind of dig my hands into.”

Curses? Shipwrecks? Haunted islands?

Come one, Gates must take us all to be fools. The South Pacific’s Polynesian islands are known for a lot of other things too.

:-)

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


15 Responses to “Destination Truth Retreats From Cryptozoology”

  1. springheeledjack responds:

    I think the top picture pretty much sums it up…

    DT has been iffy at best–there are all kinds of things that bug me about that show and the latest news doesn’t make me want to tune in on a regular basis (though I admit the episode where Josh got bit by the spider he was messing with was fun for me).

    Yes, I am being pessimistic here…but DT has fallen apart for me. And I think turning toward the “cursed” and the “haunted” is just trying to cash in on the plethora of other popular ghost chasing shows that are riding the waves of popularity right now. Besides, I’m with the ending thoughts of this thread…looks to me too that Gates is using DT’s budget to fund his own traveling and to try to really check out the natives…

  2. Fhqwhgads responds:

    By the time I caught on to DT, it was already exploring haunted mosques and haunted forests on the slopes of Mt. Fuji. Some other topics, like “Icelandic elves”, are only maybe at the borders of cryptozoology along with mermaids. For that matter, Josh Gates has made a guest appearance on Ghost Hunters. He seems to have picked up bad investigation style from them.

    Why are all the DT investigations done at night, when we humans are at a distinct disadvantage to most animals? They do this not only when they are looking for animals which have been previously seen at night, but in ALL their investigations.

    Amongst their other faults, TAPS does the same thing. They don’t try to recreate the conditions under which ghosts were supposedly seen, they just wait for dark and go “lights out”. (With a huge effort of will, I’ll restrict my criticism to that one point.)

  3. tropicalwolf responds:

    To me, Destination Truth has been second rate at best. It has always seemed more like “Destination Opinion” than about real research.

    It’s easier to do a show about the supernatural (where you are expected to fail) than one where the public will be expecting facts/evidence/proof, such as in the realm of cryptozoology.

  4. cryptidsrus responds:

    I’m not a regular watcher of DT—I like MonsterQuest better—but I basically have no problem with it.

    If they can’t go to certain places because of political and security reasons, that is Ok with me. I don’t watch DT enough to really care one way or another. I don’t really care for Josh Gates as a host to be “concerned” about it, either.

    The one episode that I thought WAS somewhat “impressive” was the one in Iceland, where they investigated the local Lake Serpent. Genuinely creepy—at least they made it clear there was enough “evidence” there to make it worth investigating further.

    Fhqwhads:
    I think the reason TAPS and DT do a lot of their filming at night is for “dramatic” reasons—filming at night gives an episode a sense of urgency and suspense-plus spookiness. That then in turn leads to more people watching—and more ratings—then ultimately more money. Although all of these “Crypto” shows claim to be done in the name of “uncovering the truth” and pursuing “knowledge” it is also as much about Money and Ratings than anything else. And they will do it takes to eventually achieve that.

    But I get what you are saying. Just my two cents. :)

  5. c.stark responds:

    Destination Truth-ish is no Monster Quest, but it can be very entertaining if you watch it in the right context. The first mistake people make is to expect science. There is very little science on DT. Think of it as a quirky travel show where we hear some cool stories, see some beautiful scenery, and Josh Gates sexually harasses or generally offends the locals… (Josh Gates can be an obnoxious @ss, but that’s a part of his charm.) Is Josh Gates exploiting NBC Universal? Probably, but who cares, it’s not our money! Call it a guilty pleasure, but I for one will continue to watch.

  6. Fhqwhgads responds:

    cryptidsrus: Many of the places where Destination Truth is filming already have limited visibility. That should be enough. They can shoot it with filters (or process after the shooting) if they want spooky lighting effects. For instance, I’ve always thought the into to Tales from the Darkside was spookier than anything else on the show and spookier than darkness would have been.

    Of course I don’t expect “real science” from Destination Truth OR Monster Quest, but I would like them to make it easier for me to suspend disbelief.

  7. Dan Gannon responds:

    I enjoy watching DT. I hope they do an episode about the diminutive “Alux” hominids, of the Maya regions. I know they were interested in that, as they called me a few months back, about the Alux sighting I had. I told them I wasn’t actually interested in appearing on TV, instead I’m devoting time to actually proving their existence, (if I do prove their existence, then I’d be happy to go on TV and talk about it,) but I referred them to some people they could talk to, and gave them some tips/ideas. I’m not sure if they have done that episode, or not, but if so, I’m interested in seeing it. I plan to continue watching DT, unless it just totally loses my interest, somehow. (I don’t think Josh will mess the show up, like that.) Good luck, Josh!

  8. Rob008 responds:

    Guys, I gotta be honest with you. I love the show. I am so jealous of Josh Gates. I would love to be doing what he is dong. Traveling around the world looking for cryptids and ghosts, and getting paid to do it. I would volunteer to carry his luggage, just to go with his team. The show works because Mr Gates takes the investigations serious, but not himself. He has found footprints, where MQ hasn’t found anything. As far as cryptids, I know that he was down here in Florida looking for the Skunk Ape. My friend got to be on the show. Now we can all take pop shots at Josh, but in my opinion, we need to back up anybody who is keeping the faith and continually looking for cryptids. I love DT and MQ and any other show about cryptids. I also think Josh Gates is doing a great job on DT and that the show continues.

  9. JMonkey responds:

    Wow I did not know that so many people in cryptozoology were so interested in trashing Josh Gates, and the TAPS crew. I guess noone likes their style, because they try to find real solutions, rather than trying to press the paranormal buttons on things that can be easily explained. I have seen all too many times where they have found reasonable solutions to paranormal activity, rather than trying to say it is merely paranormal. I know that in the field of cryptozoology you are trying to prove that something exists, but that should not come at the expense of denying the obvious truth of hoaxers, and recurring natural phenomenon. Also as far as waiting for dark, that has been shown to be a prime time for paranormal occurences. On the Josh Gates end I see your problem with waiting for nightfall. If you are searching for animals, unless they are nocturnal, then you would obviously be at a distinct disadvantage trying to find things at night, but in many of his hunts the animals have been noted as being nocturnal.

    The obviouc conclusion is that these guys have had results, maybe not entirely conclusive, but none the less they have had staggering results, which is more than we can say for other television shows covering the paranormal, and cryptids. I guess that we can all negate the research of others if we try be it from a scientific method we find faulty, or from simple hatred of those others results, but we would be far better off trying to understand their methods, and giving suggestions to further their research.

  10. c.stark responds:

    Good call! Jet setting looking for cryptids and investigating paranormal phenomena is one of the sweetest jobs in the world. JOSH GATES! IF YOU ARE READING THIS, AND ARE LOOKING FOR VOLINTEERS; ROB008 WILL CARRY YOUR GEAR AND I WILL SUPERVISE! :)

  11. wisaaka responds:

    Though I’d like Destination truth to remain all-cryptid, I’m pretty excited and happy to see a “special” in Bhutan, which in itself is worth watching if even no trace or whisper is found of the yeti in that country.

  12. wisaaka responds:

    c.stark you forgot to mention to Josh Gates that I’m volunteering to be Destination Truth’s official intern and all around mysterious guy.

  13. Dan Gannon responds:

    Yes!! My hope has become reality.

    Destination Truth is airing the brand new episode, “Haunted Forest/Alux,” on September 9! It’s the premiere episode of the new season. I’m quite exited about it! Way to go, Josh, and crew!

    Here is the description for this episode:

    “In the third-season premiere, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson from ‘Ghost Hunters’ analyze the evidence of Josh Gates’ strange experience in Romania’s Hoia-Baciu Forest. Also: the myth of the Alux is probed in Mexico’s Yucatan state.”

    My wife, Elsa, and I can’t wait to see this program. Maybe we’ll see some Yucatecos who we know!

  14. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    Sorry–I like Destination Truth and Taps. Watch them both regularly. Personally, I don’t mind that Gates is investigating hauntings, UFOs and cryptids. While I am very interested in cryptozoology I have a wide range of interest which includes all those other things as well, so why can’t Gates explore them if he wants?
    If you a want a show that is only about cryptids then I think someone ought to approach SYFY about doing it. Perhaps Loren could host it?

  15. Dan Gannon responds:

    I’m with you, HoosierHunter.

    Maybe one reason they are a bit diversified, rather than cryptids-only, is that they may want to have a longer-running show, than cryptids-only would reasonably allow. Doing one investigation into each cryptid, (without doing separate shows for each name that may just refer to the same cryptid — some cryptids seem to have many names,in different languages and regions,) they would have to run out of significant cryptids, at some point. (I wouldn’t want to see extremely dubious and/or “newly invented” fake cryptids, have to be resorted to.) I think diversifying as they are, allows them to pace themselves better with the more interesting cryptids, and may also help them attract a larger audience. Just a thought…



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