Winnipeg Free Press
Watching TV: So this real big, hairy guy walks into a forest...By: Brad Oswald Posted: 05/14/2011 1:00 AM
In the scientific world, there are levels of certainty -- some things are accepted as fact; some things are viewed as speculation; other things are dismissed as pure, unadulterated hokum.The unapologetically silly special Bigfoot: The Definitive Guide lives somewhere between the last two categories, with one foot in the realm of speculative science and the other foot -- a much bigger, heavier and hairier one, at that -- in the area of ridiculous, sideshow-quality piffle.It's not an area of programming the science-minded specialty network is shy about exploring -- every month, there are at least one or two high-profile titles that forge a purposeful path into the world of special-effects-driven infotainment.But even by the standards in play there, Bigfoot: The Definitive Guide (which airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on Discovery) is pretty light-headed stuff.This exhaustive (or is the appropriate term exhausting?) exploration of the Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti phenomenon, which at two hours in length is half again as long as it needed to be, employs voice-of-doom narration, an over-the-top dramatic soundtrack and numerous extra-cheesy guy-in-a-fur-suit dramatizations to take viewers on an around-the-world and occasionally back-in-time tour of various Bigfoot-sighting hotspots.In a mostly unsuccessful effort to lend an air of seriousness to the proceedings, a team of five "leading scientists" has been engaged to weigh and debate the evidence -- or, as Mister-Scary-Pants-Narrator says, to use "the latest technology and their expert knowledge of the animal kingdom" to "uncover shocking new evidence!"The special focuses mainly on North America's Pacific Northwest -- mainly, the B.C. interior and parts of Vancouver Island -- because it's the region in which the greatest number of Bigfoot sightings have been recorded. But the team of "experts" also considers claims that have been made in Asia and several small islands in the South Pacific.There's much gravelly voiced discussion of whether each of the targeted environments could support the survival of a Sasquatch-y life form -- climate, available food sources, migratory patterns, that sort of thing -- and, eventually, a couple of schools of thought emerge: Bigfoot might be an oddly evolved form of upright-walking ape, or else part of a more fully evolved but still primitive human species.Much time is spent assessing what is considered to be the ground-zero piece of Bigfoot evidence -- the grainy sequence known in Yeti-phile circles as the Patterson Film, which consists of 40 seconds of 16 mm home-movie footage captured in a northern California creekbed in 1967.