MysteryQuest

Common Sense Media says

Iffy conclusions mar otherwise educational history docu.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The narration tends to be contradictory -- even as it proclaims that contradictory eyewitness accounts are proof that the accounts have no substance. The show also draws questionable conclusions from very flimsy evidence. In short, it seems to encourage innuendo and conspiracy theory. That said, it also looks to scientific evidence for proof and uses some good scientific process to analyze that evidence.

Positive role models

While there are scientists involved in digging up (sometimes literally) the answers to these historical mysteries, there are also a lot of conspiracy theorists without strong academic backgrounds.

Violence

Since many of history's questions involve people dying, war, and other conflicts/issues, there are scenes related to blood and suicide. For example, in one episode involving a potential suicide, pictures of the bodies are shown, along with close ups of a gun about to be fired into the person's mouth -- but you don't see the mouth or the gun firing.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that because many of history's mysteries involve issues related to war, violence, and other less-than-happy subjects, some of the scenes in this series might be disturbing for sensitive or younger viewers. That said, the re-enactments themselves aren't particularly graphic, and most tweens should be able to handle them. More troubling is a lack of logic parading as evidence and proof. Younger viewers without much experience of history might be misled into accepting as fact something that is, at best, conjecture.

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What's the story?

Is Elvis still alive? Did Adolf Hitler escape his bunker at the end of World War II? What really happened to the Russian Tsar and his family? History is filled with all kinds of mysteries -- which MYSTERYQUEST purports to examine to see whether we can figure out what really happened using forensic science, DNA testing, and historical research.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Even the ancient Greeks noted that history is generally written by the winners, which can put a different spin on what happened. Here, it sometimes seems like the writers go into a particular mystery with a preconceived idea of what happened and only look at evidence that supports that idea -- with the result that the narration is often contradictory.

For example, in an episode seeking to explain whether Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves in the waning days of World War II, a scientist discovers that the piece of skull that the Russians have claimed was Hitler's in fact belonged to a woman. The episode repeatedly notes that Braun and Hitler's remains were supposedly kept together -- but instead of pointing out that the bone fragment could have been Braun's (apparently they decided without discussing it that because the piece of bone contained a hole consistent with a gun suicide that it couldn't be hers because she was poisoned), they reinforce the theory that Hilter escaped the bunker. This is just one example of the show's many confuding leaps in logic, which unfortunately largely undermines the some of the good points and evidence that it otherwise brings forth.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how shows like this represent -- or misrepresent -- facts. What's to be gained from emphasizing certain points over others? Parents, encourage your kids to look up more about the mystery in question to see what was might have been left out ... or made up.

  • Can you tell whether the people who made the show think that a particular theory is true before they look at the evidence? How?

  • Are shows like this useful for encouraging kids to learn more about history?

TV details

Cast:Robert Sciglimpaglia, Stan Bernard
Network:History
Genre:Educational
TV rating:TV-PG

This review of MysteryQuest was written by

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Adult Written byVladOfUtah April 14, 2010
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

Puh-lease!

Having seen the episode on the "haunting" at Wolf Manor in Clovis, CA, I'm completely unimpressed. They indeed tend to go into these investigations with a preconceived notion. One thing that really undermined this show was their continued assertion that the Amityville haunting was a fact when, in actuality, it has long since been debunked as an elaborate hoax. Come on, History Channel, give us some credit!

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