Friday, July 16, 2010

TV show review: Chasing Mummies

Heritage Key (Jon Himoff)

The heart sinks at the very title.

Zahi Hawass has a new television show coming out on History Channel tomorrow, called "Chasing Mummies". We had a look at the trailer and it seems like they are going for a highly pop-culture adventure-like, make-the-big-finds angle to attract the thrill-seekers. You had Ice Road Truckers, now get ready for Sand Dead Diggers starring the High Plains Sifter?

It all has to be good for making archeology more exciting and discovering history more fun. But at the same time, you have to wonder if the History Channel, on the heels of Discovery Channel's King Tut Unwrapped, is mixing up the medium too much and overshadowing the message. Or in other words, as you can see in the action-figure type trailer below -- are they taking the piss in the pyramids?


29 comments:

Patricia in Texas said...

The show was absolutely awful! I was very suspicious of the intern being "accidentally" locked inside the pyramid. Puleez! We all know that is highly UNlikely to happen. It was all about Hawass and very little about anything else. He needs to stick to his day job!!

Patricia in Texas

Anonymous said...

The "intern" is a model and an actress hired for a role: http://www.zoedamato.com/

As someone who loves to spout his desire to seek "The Truth", Hawass should resign immediately.

Anonymous said...

The show was completely ridiculous. I love the History Channel but this was the first time, in recent memory, that was completely turned off by the channel. It was insulting in comparison to the great programming we are usually treated to.

This show was worse to me than something you would find on Mtv's Reality Show list. It was truly bad. Everything about it seemed FAKE and like you were waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out of a sarcophagus screaming YOU'VE JUST BEEN PUNKED.

This show placed a poor, poor light upon Dr. Zahi Hawass to say the least. If this is genuine to his personality he needs and ego check. His work is important but the man seems pretty ridiculous.

I was truly let down by this show! Hope it is taken off the air.

Anonymous said...

Insulting to the intelligence of those of us really interested in the history of Egypt. Zahi Hawass looks and acts like a man in need of a psychiatrist. originally an asset to Egypt, he is now a detriment as a poor representative of Egyptian people and looks like a narcissistic fool.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the other posts for the most part. I am not upset with Hawass' behavior. I am sure he is exacting and difficult but the rest of the 'cast' seem like exaggerated character actors. They just are not real. I was really looking forward to this program but I can't watch it. (I generally don't post on blogs but I just had to see if others had the same cncerns about this show that I did.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dr. Hawass and History Channel,
About your show, Chasing Mummies...
"I have no time, good-bye."

Anonymous said...

I can't get past the feeling that Mr. Hawass was being intentionally provoked by a roving gang of clowns. That greasy character in the trenchcoat, bouncing around playing the wacky, adventurous producer... what a sorry character. Those fake interns? College students? I don't believe it for a second. He clearly has no more education than a common actor/waiter. The first time the egyptologist loses his temper, it's because that knucklehead keeps asking him the same question over and over. "But there were slaves in Egypt right? Weren't there slaves in Egypt. What about the Jews leaving Egypt?" And Hawass basically lost his temper "Why won't you listen to me? Why do you keep asking me that same question?" The little jerk truly isn't listening to a word.

Everyone involved with this show should be ashamed of themselves. But I don't think Hawass is the ass they're trying to make him out to be. His exasperation at the utter stupidity on display all around him seems to be the only genuine emotion in the entire hour.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice the full title of the show.... Chasing Mummies: the adventures of Dr Zahi Hawass. That is telling me that this is nothing more than a televised momument to Hawass' ego. After all, can you tell me of ANY show filmed in Egypt that Hawass doesn't appear in? In fact, the only way a professional camera crew can film in Egypt is if Dr. Hawass is included in the show.

Stuart Tyler said...

I can't wait to see this for myself in the UK. Until then i cannot comment, but there does seem to be a pattern in the above comments.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is Egyptian and he says that Zahi acts just like his father and uncles. So perhaps his personality or attitude is culturally based. I do agree that a lot of the show seems staged and I am wondering why Zahi, who is very passionate about ancient Egyptian history, would participate in this type of show. Remember he is not an actor so I believe this is a spoof on him.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with the comments left about this poor excuse for a "documentary".
Zoe's website lists herself as an actress but my gawd she's a really really bad one at that! She shouldn't add her performances on this show to her list!
That being said, I am glad I was able to see the five chambers of Khufu's pyramid on video for what may be a last visit to them.
Crappy show aside, the very little info given about the chambers was worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

The History channel is starting to blow something serious with their terrible new shows. I can't stand Hawass at all. I'm not watching the channel to listen to people interact, I don't care if this "intern" isn't "cut out to work for this guy". What are they exploring, what are they researching, I'm interested in that. Not their bitch fits. But because this show is "reality", I don't need their possibly fabricated research anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm originally from Egypt and I reside in the U.S, and when I saw the show, I was so not happy about Mr. Hawass representing the show and how he yelled at the workers and his assistants! I wonder why there's a clash between the middle east and the west! This guy embarrasses me and I'm disgusted with his style.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to most observations - ridiculous, insulting to an intelligent audience, painfully contrived scenes, fake interns, and Hawass acts like an out of control primadona. I'm surprised someone hasn't shoved him down a deep hole long ago (if this is really the way he treats people). I'm sure more dignified archaeologists grimace at the mention of his name. I suffered through an episode and part of the second - until he slapped the sycophant intern (Christene?) on the bottom while up in the chamber of the Great Pyramid. UHHH! What a disgusting old perv! He's an embarrassment to the fine people of Egypt.
It's sad to see the History Channel hop on the schlock bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

After catching the first 10 minutes of July 28th's episode, I became immediately suspicious this whole show was a put-on. The next 10 minutes confirmed it. How awful, especially coming from the History Channel. This show with its fake "fellows" and manufactured drama would better at home on VH1.

There is now doubt Hawass is a bigger than life character. A true documentation of his fascinating work sprinkled with his naturally colorful personality would have been a weekly must for us Egypt History fans.

What a wasted opportunity. I suggest The History Channel hire programming developers that at a minimum have hit puberty.

Anonymous said...

I'm really disappointed by how staged everything is. Both female interns are actresses (Lindsay has a full-on imdb page). Both have BAs in either anthro or art history, but it seems pretty clear from their resumes where their career priorities lie.

However, Hawass himself feels like the least phony thing in the series. He seems like every archaeologist I've ever known (I've known a few) on steroids. The ego, the temper tantrums, the demanding nature are all par for the course. Only in Zahi's case, these qualities have run unchecked for years. But when someone takes on the amount of responsibility he has, a knack for plain speaking and the ability to be a task master can only stand you in good stead. And the tantrums are inevitable.

I've had an idea for a while to have a documentary following the lives of REAL students working on a REAL archaeological dig. Believe me, such a thing would be sufficiently fraught with drama without all the obvious scripting of this series. And who knows? People might actually learn something.

Ɓowiczanka said...

It is unfortunate that reality shows have to invent all that "drama", when in "reality" there is a lot of "real" drama when you are exploring the temples and tombs of Ancient Egypt. Read my blog about Zahi and his TV show Chasing Mummies... http://lowiczanka.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/beneath-the-surface/

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, Zahi goes so far that it's impossible to satirise him. But that doesn't mean people aren't still trying:

Hawass to play 'bullying, tantrum-prone buffoon' in new comedy show - from Egyptastic

Anonymous said...

I've actually had the opportunity to meet Dr. Hawass and have traveled in Egypt, and it was clear to me from the start that this was something he chose to do in order to get more money for archaeology. I had no doubt this was "reality TV meets Egyptology." I teach college students and it was really obvious that these three "interns" were actors. They clearly are not the brightest bulbs and I'm sure there are lots of real archaeology students out there who would have loved to take their places!

For those who have bashed Dr. Hawass, I'll just say that anyone in his position has to be pretty tough. And, if you look carefully, you'll be able to see that when one of the workers gets injured, the real Zahi comes out. He really does care for the workers and for the artifacts. I'm afraid he's just been forced into doing something he might regret later. I wish he would re-do this with just one cameraperson (not a whole crew) and some real students. I would watch that!

Anonymous said...

Don't be so harsh on Dr. Hawass's personality, most Egyptians are actually like that and he probably does have a softer loving side to him. American's shouldn't take offense to him because it's cultural thing. Oh and about the interns, they are so unprofessional and annoying, I really can't blame Dr. Hawass for being so frustrated. On another note I feel like the history channel set the bar low with this show, I'd rather watch the low budget yet very well informed show on PBS called Globe trotters than some highly dramatized "documentary."

Anonymous said...

I'm actually annoyed by the fellows than by Dr. Hawass. Imagine the responsibility of not only preserving these great artifacts but also worrying about workers, robbers and money.

The "interns" are supposed to be have a degree in archaeology? These "interns" wouldn't know a sarcophagus if it bit them in the butt.

Yes, these archaeologists are egotistic, temper-mental and could use a shot of vodka, but they are also smart, determined and brave enough to set on amazing adventure so that others like us who doesn't have the opportunity to explore can at least learn on what they have discovered.

I just hope they put more history and knowledge instead of the fabricated drama these "interns" and that parasite producer-Leslie.

What a wasted opportunity. If Dr. Hawass only agreed to this so that he can make money for more archaeological dig is really sad. If I had $$$, I would fund such expedition minus the idiots interns.

Anonymous said...

What a waste of my time, Dr. Hawass needs help, he has no people skills and should seek the help of a psychiatrist if he can find one that has time for him. Shame, shame history channel.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Hawass is a living legend in his field. He's earned the right to be respected. History Channel hired the worst fictional writers they could to script this dud, to make it 'exciting'. But the reality factor about the same as a daytime talkshow or the Two Coreys. Not the educational experience I thought it would be.

And then they hired 'interns' whose acting is on the level of really embarrassing dinner theater, the kind where you go the restroom and then slip out the back door. Why shouldn't the man be short-tempered with them? I think the good Dr. was completely blindsided after they started filming, but was trapped in some infernal contract he couldn't get out of. So he made the best of it and used the fools at the History Channel for free publicity. He's a genius!

PersiaFasahl said...

I’m a bit behind in watching the show, but I’d like to comment on the two episodes I just watched: Bats and Cursed. These episodes were excellent!!! The whiney interns were gone, and we really saw a lot in these programs:
Two beautifully painted 5th Dynasty tombs at Saqqara, Dr. Hawass went under the great Sphinx at Gizeh, and explored caves near the Great Pyramids, attended a wedding in a village, and received an Archadeological Award. (Omar Sharif was in attendance, too!)
Also, Zahi took us to the beautiful tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings, climbed the mountains overlooking the Valley, and viewed a model of the Valley made by famed Egyptologist, Kent Weeks.
Hawass also took us to a Falcon Gallery, and to the Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor, where workers are restoring the route that connected the Temples of Luxor and Karnak. Thus far 650 of the 1350 Sphinxes have been found.
This is the reason to watch Chasing Mummies. Sadly I have only one more episode to watch. Hopefully there will be more episodes in the future.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so we've already established that the show is very poorly executed, and that Hawass is some narcissistic, over-the-top (Dare I say) Egyptologist.

I saw someone say that the way he act's is based on culture. Yes, most old Egyptian men are like that. (I can tell you because I'm Egyptian myself, and know my background rather well), but the vast majority of you seem so concerned with his ego. To hell with his ego, and to hell with the show's ratings.

Why hasn't anybody considered his historical accuracy? It's seriously flawed!! I watched 'chasing mummies' today, and he proposed that the freaking pyramids weren't built by slaves, but rather "Workers". Well Mr. Awass, sorry to put a damper of your apparent awareness, but who were the 'worker's? The slaves.

The first and foremost striking thing was his historical accuracy. It's shocking to say the least! Typically, in Old Kingdom Egypt, the power hierarchy consisted of the Pharaoh, the Viziers, the Scribes, etc all the high class of society, followed by slaves, and lower classed people. You tell me Hawass, who if not the 'slaves' erected the great pyramids?

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H8U5jFmzWI&NR=1

this video says it all

peace

Anonymous said...

Ok so I saw only one episode...the onelast night,and yes...as an educational show it failed...and yes I also had tocheck up on it a few times to see if it was scripted...so loosening our uptight egos ourselves at this point...cant we focus on what is left of the show? IT IS FRIGGIN HILARIOUS!!! lol I laughed so hard when he was yelling at that ridiculous intern to shut up over and over again lol and then fires him from down in the tomb that shit was sooo funny...its all a joke yes we can agree on that...so why not relish in it and ammuse ourseles with it...I think it should be on the comedy channel and im gonna buy it lol Dont get me wrong I have all respect for things like archeology and any other repectible trade...but that doesnt mean I cant enjoy a ridiculous show...I mean after all most of the shows on tv are fake...whats wrong with one more? i got masive amounts of ammusement out of the stupidity of this show..I LOVED laughing at it lol

Anonymous said...

oh yea and its been a highly approved theory for a long while now that workers built the pyramids not slaves...youve never heard this before?

Anonymous said...

I just saw the show for the first time. Being the history channel I always know it's going to be enjoyable and educational, but then I realized I was watching acting, and bad acting at that! I wasn't learning a thing, other than how to hate Zahi Hawass. Granted it is 2 am, but I would much rather watched anything other than that. I've not looked into it, and I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling this way, but I'm embarrassed for the history channel, they should take that show off now, and pretend it never happened. It's very bad acting, very bad camera work, and writing, all in all they should be ashamed for trying to pass it off as real. who ever is writing this stuff needs to be fired. Baddd job on the history channel's part, I hated every minute of the show, and I hope they take it off, asap.