Thanks to Jane Akshar's Luxor News Blog for pointing me at this review. The reviews on my earlier posts about this show, which I haven't seen, have been consistently negative. Here's another to add to the list. You can find most of the previous comments about the show that have been posted on this blog here.
Chasing Mummies" (10 p.m., History, TV-PG) may not uncover the next King Tut, but it may have discovered the next big
From Jon and Kate to Snooki and the Situation, documentary-style shows represent a cheap fishing expedition for outsized personalities and exhibitionists, "real" people fake enough to compete with high-priced unionized actors for our attention.
Shot outside of Cairo, "Chas ing Mummies" does indulge us with sporadic dips into archaeology, Egyptology and all those other dusty ologies, but it devotes much of its time to the manufacturing of fake tension and convoluted drama. Within minutes of meeting series "star" Dr. Zahi Hawass, we're told that a cameraman and shapely Canadian intern have been forgotten in a pyramid and face asphyxiation -- or worse! The scenario could not have seemed more contrived had the intern been tied to a railroad track. But the situation did allow us to see Hawass dragged out of a Cairo book signing, which made me reflect on just how many reality shows feature book signings.
Later, we stumble upon a long-buried and happily unmolested tomb located just below a village of squatters. Sadly, in addition to living in hovels, these poor folks risk tumbling into archaeological sinkholes at any given moment. The "Chasing Mummies" crew placates the impoverished with candy bars.
Hawass is a very big deal in his field and a superstar in his country. And he didn't get there by being Dr. Nice Guy. He's a tyrant with a short fuse, and he detonates in nearly every other scene.
Zahi Hawass is shown apparently in an interview (?) defending some of his more extreme outbursts in the Chasing Mummies documentary. I am not sure of the source (although it appears to have been distributed by the Associated Press) and as such I only add it because it seems only fair to give Dr Hawass a chance to answer some of the criticism - although, to be honest, I'm not sure it does him any favours.