WASHINGTON, January 5, 2014 –What do John Wayne, Errol Flynn and Franklin D. Roosevelt have in common? All three have invested funds into the exploration of the aptly named “money pit” on a little island off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Tonight at 10 p.m. on History Channel, two brothers from Michigan will attempt to find the treasure that’s allegedly buried there on “The Curse of Oak Island.” Ever since three teenaged boys stumbled across a man made hole on the island in the late 1700s, the mystery has intrigued treasure hunters from all walks of life.
It has been speculated that anything ranging from the lost manuscripts of Shakespeare to the one, true Holy Grail planted centuries ago by the Knights Templar has been concealed in the “money pit’s” intricately constructed series of booby traps and flooded chambers. Even the infamous pirate Captain William Kidd admitted to burying treasure in the area before his capture in 1699.
According to a History Channel press release:
“Many men have taken on the hunt with the best of intentions, only to be left with decimated fortunes, broken spirits and lost lives. An ominous legend says that seven people must die in pursuit of the treasure before Oak Island will reveal her secrets. So far, the body count stands at six.”
There’s nothing like a chance someone will die to pull in eager viewers to a new “reality show.”
From adventurers diving into the icy Bering Sea to intrepid prospectors battling the shady locals of Ghana for millions in gold, basic cable networks have made their own considerable fortunes by filming people in search of the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
We watch these shows because they offer a possibility we all harbor: a shortcut to personal wealth. Unfortunately, the reality is more often an endless series of equipment malfunctions and contrived conflict among a predictably contentious batch of treasure hunters.
Let’s face it. Since “The Curse of Oak Island” has already been filmed, had the two brothers in this show actually found the lost treasure, the whole world would already know about it. More likely what we will see is the usual fare we have come to expect from reality TV.
That means a lot of “cliff-hanger” moments preceding each predictable commercial break, with the inevitable dreary recaps and already-aired footage leading to the letdown that’s sure to follow. If “Oak Island” sticks to the reality show format, it also means we will see the two brothers fighting and threatening to quit on a regular basis.
The only treasure that will result from “The Curse of Oak Island” will probably be the one History Channel makes while panning for advertising revenue as often as possible on the show.
If contrived reality show drama is not your cup of tea, tonight offers a great alternative. The globally popular British series “Downton Abbey” begins its fourth season tonight at 9 p.m. on PBS. The show opens six months after Matthew’s death and promises to be the launch of the most watched season so far.
Given the choice between endorsing any reality show and the quality programming offered by public TV, this decision should be a no-brainer.
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