10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty: Close But No Cigar

Bigfoot-LogoAnyone who knows me, or perhaps who is a regular reader, knows that I have an affinity for big hairy hominids.  Well, actually, I should probably clarify, there’s one particular big hairy hominid that I have in mind, not just dudes with a lot of back hair.  I’m referring to Bigfoot, or Sasquatch if you prefer.

To clarify further, I enjoy the Bigfoot phenomenon, and though I’ve written about this pinnacle cryptid in the past, occasionally giving it more credit that it is perhaps due, I am not a believer.  I concede that it could exist, however unlikely that may be, but I have and will continue to reserve judgment until evidence is found to prove its existence.  It is endlessly fun to speculate and theorise on its various attributes, behaviour and ancestry though.

spike_tv_10_Million_Dollar_Bigfoot_bountyIn that vein, I tuned in to Spike TV’s newest reality show last night, the 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty, starring Dean Cain.  This show has been hyped in style over the last several weeks, especially among Bigfooters and their associated blogs and online communities, of which I am not necessarily a member.  It had been promised that it would be a serious effort to find talented people, who are, after all is said and done, more likely than most to actually find that elusive evidence of Sasquatch.  We’ve been promised that the cast and producers will take a pointedly scientific tact and that the whole thing will be treated as a scientific endeavour, rather than a TV spectacle.

Last night was the premier episode, and I have mixed feelings about it now, having slept on it.  If you follow my twitter feed, you likely saw my tweets about the show during and after it aired.  I was happy with it.  That is to say, I was entertained by it.

Dean Cain

Dean Cain

The show is the brain child of reality TV producer and writer Mike Riley, who is known for his contributions to several reality TV programs and series.  It stars, as mentioned, actor and avid outdoorsman Dean Cain (best known for his role as Superman in ABC’s Lois & Clark), as well as anthropologist and primatologist Natalia Reagan, and renowned anthropology professor at New York University and molecular primatologist Dr. Todd Disotell.  It also stars a ragtag cast of contestants with varying levels of expertise and experience in the realms of biology, Bigfooting, hunting and wildlife preservation.

The first episode served to introduce us and the cast with the format of the show and with each other, which in one case wasn’t really a welcome introduction, but we’ll get to that.

Dr. Todd Disotell

Dr. Todd Disotell

The contestants will spend the next several weeks living together in a cabin, a la Big Brother, and will compete in a series of research or conservatory type tasks in various locations around the American North West.  These tasks are meant to give each two-person team a chance to prove to the hosts that they have what it takes to be real Bigfoot researchers.  Every episode will see one team sent home for failing the given task, in the spirit of Survivor.  At the end of the series, the remaining team will win the contest and be awarded the $10 million dollar prize, which is being put forward by Lloyd’s of London Insurance.  The winners will also become members of a rock star Bigfoot hunting expedition, which will include Disotell and Reagan, who will ostensibly have a better chance of actually finding the elusive beast than any other.

Last night’s tasks were to collect viable DNA from a wild animal in an area described as a game preserve, so as to provide Dr. D. (as he’s being called in the twitterverse) and Natalia with something to analyse.  And then to spend a night in a different area and try to come up with Bigfoot evidence to be analysed.

Natalia Reagan

Natalia Reagan

I’ll say at this point, I like this format.  It should serve to teach viewers a thing or two about the scientific method and about evidence standards.  I did see some things I didn’t like though.

The most glaring issue is the apparently blood-thirsty attitude of some of the contestants.  Justin Smeja (partnered with “tech wizard” Ro Sahebi), who is a self-proclaimed hunter, and who claims to have shot and killed two Sasquatch at some time in the past, stated openly that his only interest is in finding and killing a Bigfoot, so as to put the argument to rest.  This doesn’t seem in keeping with the promise we were given that this would be a scientific endeavour.  Other contestants have a history of hunting, which, in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but it remains to be seen if the show turns into a big game hunter type exercise.

The first contestants to be eliminated were husband and wife team Travis and January Miller.  They failed to bring back any evidence to be analysed by the hosts and as such were eliminated.  To me, this was an incorrect choice.  As the Millers reasoned, is it not better to bring back nothing, than to bring back false, misleading, or just plain silly evidence?

sasquatch_walking_awayI suppose this is all part of the TV hook though, it gets the viewer riled up and passionate about the contestants and the show, and keeps them coming back for more.

The thing I really didn’t like to see happened in the ‘look ahead’ or preview of upcoming episodes.  They cut to a scene in the cabin, with all of the remaining contestants sitting around the living room, arguing about who’s the better researcher and who really deserves to be there.  It’s distasteful, it’s scripted drama and it really turns me off.

If the next episode turns out to be more Big Brother/Survivor-esque reality TV, I won’t be tuning in for a third episode.  After all, we know that the purpose of the show, despite what the charismatic hosts want you to believe, is to make money through viewership and ratings.  Historically speaking, that’s achieved through hedonistic and pseudo-violent drama, not science.

They’re off to a good start, I suppose, but in my mind the quality of the show could go either direction…and reality TV’s reputation doesn’t give me a great deal of hope.

I arrange letters into specific combinations that, when considered in relation to other letters, sometimes make people laugh, shake their heads, and occasionally utter death threats. In a former life I was also an expert surveillance and background investigator.

Yes, I was a spy. No, I wasn’t spying on you…probably.

I also blog at: www.mysteriousuniverse.org and www.dailygrail.com

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  • Thomas van Andel

    Hi M.J.C.,sounds like you had fun watching yet another reality TV show…Why are they not pulling bits off the alleged BF corpse in TX and subjecting THAT to rigorous DNA testing,to see the validity of the claim that it is a genuine unknown species ?..But I guess that would be too scientific !

  • Paranormal People

    Mainly because Dyer is a known hoaxer and his “Bigfoot” is fake, but you’re right, it would be much too scientific for him.

  • Thomas van Andel

    Oh well…back to the drawing board !

  • http://gravatar.com/sarijj sarijj

    I was disappointed with the few minutes I could stomach. I had no interest in watching, that was until I listened to a Monster Talk interview with Dr. D and Natalia. They admitted to not have seen the finished product but were pleased with the science aspect of their experience. I had high hopes this show might teach viewers about how natural science works.
    The contestants turned me off. As you said there was Justin Smeja, a man who claims to have shot two bigfoots (bigfeet?). One, a juvenile in the face. Oh what a real man! H said he wanted to kill one to prove Bigfoot’s existence. This is the only way to prove Bigfoot is real? Then there was the husband and wife team who were photographers/hunters. After showing some of their kills, the husband says he wants a Bigfoot on his wall. Most of the contestants claimed to be hunters, though the two cross-bow girls looked more like hunting pinups than actual outdoors-women. It was disappointing to find these people were the best Spike could come up with.
    The winning is not guaranteed the 10 million dollars. They still have to come up with actual proof. The winning team is guaranteed some money. I have a feeling a 10M check will never be written.

  • Graham

    I didn’t even read the article. I want to say that I work for the Forest Service in Southeast Alaska. My job brings me to very remote areas; vast stretches of unexplored wilderness. In my off time and during work I have been exploring for many years. I have found countless amazing things out in the wilderness. If one were to promise a live capture, a contract and a million up front, I could take them to a granite outcropping where I have on regular occasion seen “bigfoot” (in the summer). It’s a moral dilemma for me, even posting here on this site where no one will read. But if someone wants a Bigfoot this badly, here’s your chance.

  • Martin J. Clemens

    No one will read? Well thanks for summing up my vast readership so accurately.

  • Martin J. Clemens

    I stand corrected, and you’re probably right, that $10 million will never change hands. If you think about it, Lloyd’s of London are betting on that. It says something that the safer bet, financially, is that Bigfoot won’t be found.

  • James

    Good article Martin. I watched it too. It’s just more reality TV brain-numbing. This prize will ony be paid when/if a bigfoot type creature is captured, and this won’t happen on this show.

    In my only experience with reality TV, I was asked by the owners of the property to be an historical consultant for a top rated ghosthunting show. ( Not Ghosthunters) and before I agreed to be in the show, I told the producer that I did not want my real name being used or my teams name. The producer was upset by this. I told him that I nor my team wanted to be affiliated with any TV paranormal team.

    I was afraid they might fake evidence and sure enough, we caught them faking evidence for the show. After that experience, I vowed never to do another paranormal show again….

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  • http://ghosttheory.com scottmcman

    Graham, If you have a story to tell, let me know, (with the blessing of Martin that is). I don’t want to lift anything from him.

    You can contact me here: scott@ghosttheory.com

    I happen to know some of the contestants. I think you did a great article Martin!

  • http://none Dennis Murphy

    Bigfoot has been found studied and photographed in Wisconsin. Most everything you see on television and the web is pure hooey .They don’t have huge muscles ,similar faces for males and females. They are not all that nocturnal ,nor do they require wilderness. Since the same unproductive methods of search are never changed and the people involved are about as blind as they come. Perhaps it is time that the anthropologists and primatologists got the nerve to band with local woodsmen and get the job done. I have a photo of the real ones that is not posed and has a single small leaf over hairy face of one adult and full face of a youngster completely unblocked by anything but air. But the greedy nimnoes of nonsense and fakery and their websites won’t show to you all! It is getting some reactions from anthroplologists but as usual they are afraid of the unknown! Thanks for reading my rant. Woodswalker!