David J West
Guest Author David J. West reviews the History Channel show "Apocalypse Island"

David J West
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David J West is a novelist who writes speculative fiction.

Apocalypse Island: Pulp Fiction

I am an odd person. I am a novelist; specifically I like to write what would be termed speculative fiction. Just putting this all up front for the sake of where I am going with everything.

Love that History Channel and the many things they provide so I was interested in seeing what this Apocalypse Island was all about. Namely because I usually write speculative historical fiction. I like to look at weird things from the past and essentially tell you a lie yes, but it’s an entertaining lie.

What gets my goat though is when someone tells you something that is a bold faced lie and fully expect you to believe it. For the record I write fiction I do want to make a living at it but I am not going to take your money and tell you that it is 100% true. The History Channel in a new low aired Apocalypse Island, Sunday night and didn’t bother to tell you they were feeding you fiction.

As I said earlier I love the History Channel and was interested in seeing a program that promoted an ancient ruin or monument as they called it, an incredible distance from the Mayan homeland. I foolishly assumed, and you know what that means, that IF this was actually getting aired on a respectable channel there must be some validity to it.

I suspected that it would indeed be closer to Easter Islander monoliths than ornate and complicated Mayan stelae but still an intriguing ruin at the least. Sorry for my ramblings on to the review.

The atypical 2012 tropes were brought out with a number of commentators such as Whitley Strieber and the Apocalypse Island “discoverer” James Turner, giving the rundown on the 2012 phenomenon. Turner was vague in all his initial descriptions and no photos from his supposed 1995 discovery were shown. That threw red flags up for me. Why not show even grainy old film shots of this towering 150 foot tall monument of the ages? Twice as tall as the Sphinx was repeated a number of times, as if mentioning the Sphinx lent its legendary wisdom to this other structure.

Turner proceeds to tell of how he discovered the thing while on a boat trip to Easter Island and is now coming back for the first time in 14 years. A big to do was made of securing a boat that would dare take him to the mysterious fog enshrouded island and I couldn’t help but wonder, “What is this Skull Island where Kong is from?”

This production of numerous skippers turning Turner down also threw red flags up. If this was a legitimate expedition why are we the audience having to be subjected to the banalities of travel arrangements? Then I noticed I was more than a half hour into the program and had learned and seen absolutely nothing as yet. I had to double check the programming schedule and lo and behold this was a two hour program and not a single hour as I initially believed. I am only telling you because I was surprised that things were not getting down to business-not unlike this review.

A boat was secured for passage and the trivial moments of harmonica playing and the captain dancing on the forecastle with I believe a poster of Monica Bellucci or at least a Chilean look alike behind him. All of these antics were for the express purpose of giving the viewer that reality TV choose your own adventure feeling. At no time were facts-besides 2012 theory given.

They finally reach the island and begin hiking toward the said monument. They don’t even make it the first day, nor the second. They make it the morning of the third day and what do we the audience get to see but an artistic rendering so that we can see what Turner tells us to see. A tall Easter Island like being Turner calls a Mayan sun god and directly behind a great crouching jaguar. They do afterwards show brief and I mean brief pics of the formation-that’s what I will now call it but you never get a good long look.

I am very into ancient archeology, I like researching my fiction. I know what monuments or any manner of ruins look like and this aint it. It is an impressive natural rock formation, a spire lunging from a volcanic ridge but that’s it. The resemblance to the intricate carving of the Maya is non-existent. The narrator for the History Channel mentions that the ruins are quite weathered-almost to the point of destroying any features and Turner is quick to say that the Maya did not erect the thing but carved the existing ridgeline. Maybe because all it is-is a ridgeline?

Turner talks about how the island is where a great eclipse will be visible in 2012, as well as Transit of Venus passing before the sun in June of that year-but so what. How do these astronomical happenings denote a vast trans-pacific undertaking more than a thousand years earlier? Turner goes on to postulate that if they can only climb to the top of the supposed sun god monolith-there will be an answer to the entire enigma of 2012.

Guess what? He and his “guide” climb to the top and its all just ragged rock. No portal or sign of anything-just a nice view. What really irritated me on History Channels part is that at no time did any amount of science go into actually looking at these formations “monuments”-why not? If there was an ounce of credibility here why wasn’t there any looking at the sides for signs of cut stone, rubble, or glyphs? Because there wasn’t any!

All we got was a dragged out 2 hour postulation on utter crap! Turner claims to be an archeologist but he should be writing fiction. If he has the chops to write this as classic pulp-fiction I would buy it. And he must have some kind moxie and chops-he convinced the History Channel to go for it. But there is no real evidence of a Mayan Apocalypse Island. Even the supposed rigorous journey to get to the island is a lie. An airfield and town is on the other side of this relatively small island-or with some internet debate on an adjacent island. Either way it’s not an inhospitable island that almost every brave Chilean sailor refused to go to.

I came away from this program angry. Is it so hard for the History Channel to stick to history? Why this descent into SyFy territory? For all the hype of a monument, you the viewer never got a real good look and no one examined the area nearby for any trace of ancient building. Instead all we got was lies and not even very entertaining lies.

David J. West, novelist

Editor's Note: David J. West's blog can be found at http://david-j-west.blogspot.com We also have a new page discussing Apocalypse Island


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