“Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet is currently filming its third season, an enigma, indeed, considering the robust inanity of this program, an inanity so pronounced —and of which its participants are so proudly oblivious —that the minds at “South Park” felt compelled to skewer it. (If you’re getting skewered on “South Park,” you probably deserve it.) The four-person team of Bigfoot hunters consists of three men with sketchy credentials —Matt Moneymaker, founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization; Cliff Barackman, who pretends to be “level-headed and analytical”; and James “Bobo” Fay, a gargantuan, hirsute human specimen who’s as close as you’ll ever get to seeing Sasquatch —and the obligatory “science-minded” female, Ranae Holland. They scamper through various wooded environs wearing irksome green night-vision equipment, declaring every twig snap an indication of an ambling “squatch.” They hold impotent and yawnful invigilations. They howl in petition of a return howl that never comes. They interview backwoods dwellers and look upon them with arrant credulity as these unknowing folk describe a bear they believe is Bigfoot. Each one of these monster hunters gives off a medium-strength air of having been picked on psychopathically as a teenager.
The new series “Chasing UFOs” on National Geographic Channel has to follow the same blueprint as “Finding Bigfoot” because there’s no other blueprint to follow. The three-person team —two men, one woman —scurries around open areas with fancy green cameras and scans the skies for not-quite-inexplicable lights they of course deem of alien origin. They meet with citizens convinced of their own sightings —ignoring every shard of data that proves the rampant unreliability of eyewitness testimony —and then talk to marginalized farmers certain that little gray men are mutilating their great big cows. Savvier than the suits at Animal Planet, the suits at National Geographic Channel have hired a prickly female team member with supercharged sex appeal, Erin Ryder —even her name is sexy. Peek at her photo on the show’s website and you’ll see her perky teats at attention, chest aglisten, hair blown back in glam. Each team member dons faux military garb —a signal of their steely seriousness —and the two gents, James Fox and Ben McGee, are half likable and not awful to look at. The “Finding Bigfoot” bunch, on the other hand, are both agony on the eyes and outrageously asinine.