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Expedition Unknown – The Quest for King Arthur – S02E01

imageI’m not sure where I’ve been or why I didn’t know about these episodes earlier, but the second season of Expedition Unknown completely passed me by. I’ve been waiting to hear news about a new season starting only to find it has come and gone. Well, no matter! My musings might be a little on the late side, but it’s always fun to catch up with Josh and see where and what he’s up to.

For the first episode, Josh is off to England, Scotland and Wales in search of answers surrounding the mystery of King Arthur. We should all know the story by now about Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and ruling over the land as the future king. However, is there any truth to these stories? Is this merely a fun and fanciful tale, or does the Arthur legend have roots in real events and real people?

In hopes of getting some answers or perhaps muddying the waters even more, Josh heads to Tintagel Castle, the rumored birthplace of Arthur himself. On these grounds is said to be the cave where Merlin finds Arthur and now standing atop the cliff is a fortress built by the Earl of Cornwall. It is said the castle was built to commemorate Arthur and his uniting armies against the invading Saxons. And it is believed that during the 6th century when Arthur would have been alive that he would have looked more like a Roman solider than the traditional knight in shining armor.

Around the grounds of the castle they’ve discovered what looks to the ruins of very old structures and some tablets that refer to "Arthur". Does this mean there was indeed a true and real Arthur and he is buried somewhere on the site? Well, no one really knows, but most likely not.

There was however a rumor started at the Glastonbury Abbey, which claimed they found the tomb of Arthur and Guinevere complete with nameplates. However, it is considered this whole story is nothing but a hoax used to try and cash in on the Arthur legend when the monestary was going bankrupt and needed funds. But it goes to show that whether or not Arthur is real, he is revered and people want him to be real.

Something a little more tangible can be found over in Lester where some cave explorers have found what they believe could ultimately be the burial tomb of Arthur and the knights. In some versions of the story, it is said that Merlin swept away the remains of Arthur and created a tomb. Some believe the massive 50 miles of underground tunnels will ultimately reveal the burial chamber. Josh gets suited up and makes an exploration. While many of the massive chambers look like they could be tombs or temples and they have been able to discover the skeletal remains of at least one person, they aren’t able to find anything definitive that shows signs of human interaction or intervention. In fact, they haven’t been able to locate any burial chambers or artifacts such as armor, shield, sword of even religious objects.

Further down the road in Edinburgh, Scotland, Josh continues his Arthur investigation, but first it’s time to stop off for a quick bite of haggis along with a glass of Scotch. Seems like an excuse to nip off to the pub, but there is method in his madness.

On the grounds of Stirling Castle there is something that has come to be known as the King’s Knot or "table round" and many believe it refers to the Knights of the Round Table. With that idea in mind, there are researchers using ground penetrating radar to map the area. Since it’s a historical site, they’re unable to actually dig into the ground even though they’ve been able to determine objects and ground disturbances just under the surface.

Again, it makes for a neat story, but if you’re not able to do any excavation even when you might be on top of some evidence, there’s not much you can do with this story.

While that doesn’t make Arthur, Scottish, researcher Adam, says that Arthur was actually a Scotsman as they have been able to find historical records describing some events they believe are the kernel of the idea that is now the Arthur legend. Adam believes that Arthur was Celtic and would have lived in the ways of the Druids, that is to say, he would have been a Pagan rather than a Christian. And what evidence does have to support this claim?

He believes that the sword in the stone story is the literal act of standing in the ancient footprints on the stone of men who has come before you and taking the sword to declare that you intend to defend the land. This was more of a ritual or ceremony not a real sword stuck in a stone. Adam also contends that Camelot comes from the words for Twisted and Marsh. It’s not really a place, but a description of where Arthur lived, indeed the lands surrounding that particular area of Scotland.

Adam then takes Josh to a location where he believes they have found the ruins of ancient buildings. Buried beneath all the debris, roots and moss are walls that would have made the foundation of structures that looked out over the marsh. To him, this is where the royal court of Camelot would have been built.

However, once again, they aren’t able to find any real evidence to support these claims. In fact, throughout the entire trip it is merely speculation and wishful thinking that make people think Arthur is real and within the area they’re searching in. But at this point, none of the scholars or cave explorers or researchers have found anything that actually shows Arthur to be a real person other than the name appearing in some stories. I would have to say that Arthur, even with the original spelling, isn’t exactly the most unique name out there, so saying Arthur is a real person would obviously be true at some point.

As is normally the case, legends are rooted in some sort of fact. While the real person and the real event most likely won’t live up to the commercialization of the story, there is usually some nugget of truth out there somewhere. Really about the only thing people can agree upon, and even that isn’t rock solid, is that Arthur would have been alive around the 6th century and would have been a Pagan and that the stories about knights in shining armor would have been invented much later to make the story more appealing and to align it with the Templars and the Crusades. And it appears a monk may have dressed up the story a wee bit to further that glamour.

But even so, the Arthur legend is alive and well and perhaps if the story was real and went from being history to legend, it may be possible to turn that legend back into history and find the true nature of Arthur. Until then, it will still be a really cool story about honor, courage, loyalty, myth and magic, and that’s probably cooler than the truth anyway.

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‘Ghost Adventures’ couple found dead

This is a rather sad end to what seems to have been a rather turbulent relationship. Mark and Debbie Constantino were found dead in an apartment in Reno, NV. From the reports there appears to have been a standoff that ended in a murder-suicide.

SPARKS, Nev. — Police identified the couple found dead inside an apartment on Tuesday as Mark and Debbie Constantino, local paranormal investigators featured in the Travel Channel hit series Ghost Adventures.

‘Ghost Adventures’ couple found dead

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Hannibal – Season 4 not on the books, but could it be?

image We’re just a few episodes in and NBC has already announced they won’t be renewing Hannibal for Season 4. This has lead to lots of rumors and speculation about the future of the show. Is someone else going to pick it up? Will Netflix, who seems to be everyone’s hope at a TV savior these days, swoop in and add another show to their exclusive catalog? Is anyone brave enough to take up the mantle of a show with such dark underpinnings? Is it even possible someone wants to take the helm and recreate the 3 Hannibal movies in serial form using this cast of characters?

I always thought from the first couple of episodes that Hannibal shouldn’t be on regular "broadcast" TV. It’s content is far too niche and the audience would be relatively small, but devoted. It wouldn’t generate the kinds of numbers commercial based TV would need to say it’s viable. I’m surprised it even made it to air, let alone came back for a second or even third season.

But here we are with a deep and dramatic story that is drawing to a close. And one that still has several more chapters to tell. Can it continue on?

I personally don’t think Netflix will pick it up. Instead, I would look to either Amazon, who already has broadcast rights under Amazon Prime, or Starz, which is known for broadcasting niche content with "mature" themes. Out those choices, I’m not sure which I would prefer.

Amazon certainly has the money and they have dabbled in some darker offerings by renewing "Ripper Street". Based on the cost of putting the show together, it wouldn’t be hard for them to turn a profit and garner an audience. Plus, they already offer Hannibal, so it would easily blend in.

Starz has put together several niche shows like Black Sails, which has it’s violent and sexual side, as well as Outlander (plenty of violence and sex there) as well as Da Vinci’s Demons which isn’t exactly General Audience fair. Black Sails has certainly been a slow build, but has garnered a pretty stout audience. I’m a fan of the show and liked that not every show had to have explosions and backstory was an important element. Same can be said for Outlander, which moves at a steady pace, but isn’t "action packed".

If we’re throwing names and fanciful ideas out there, what about Showtime and Hannibal as a replacement for Dexter? We had multiple seasons of Dexter and serial killers certainly aren’t new territory. I would be content to see a meeting of the minds between those groups.

In all cases, Hannibal would do well on a "cable" station or with a streaming service. Best to keep it away from the prying eyes of younger viewers and away from those who might "stumble" upon it and then cry foul over what they saw.

I would very much like to see the show continue and as I said before, I would like to see this cast and this crew remake the Hannibal movies. We’ve already been introduced to many of the characters from those, so why not just go all the way? I would like to see that trilogy redone and put that other horrible set of movies to rest.

Will someone take up the challenge to keep the show going knowing there is already a committed audience? They are exploring all avenues, so who knows. We might get lucky, but I don’t see a reason to do any more than 3 more season. This would complete the movies and finish things off nicely. If they wanted to venture into the unknown and make a fourth season where Hannibal disappears into society again, I would certainly be along for the ride.

What do you think? Netflix? Amazon? Starz? Showtime? Or is this the final dinner engagement of Hannibal?

Update: Just read that Amazon owns the exclusive streaming rights of Hannibal so that effectively shuts out Netflix. Also, Bryan Fuller has a new show coming out on Starz, so clearly that’s a possibility as well.

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Hannibal returns for Season 3

imageI just had a chance to sit down and watch the season 3 opener of Hannibal. There was some doubt we would even get this third season, but this first episode has me intrigued as we learn all sorts of secrets about Hannibal, his former therapist Dr. Bedelia, and that Hannibal had Dr. Abel Gideon for dinner on multiple occasions and their discussion were quite revealing.

We catch up with Hannibal who has managed to escape from Will and Jack and has made his way over to Italy. He has started a new life for himself as a professor focusing on the works of Dante. How strangely fitting. But there is far more to this story. Odd how a position just happens to come open right when Hannibal is looking for a  job. Further, we see there is a whole lot more to relationship between Hannibal and Dr. Bedelia. Seems they were more than colleagues, more than doctor and patient and without giving too much away, they had much more than a passing knowledge of each other. It also comes out that Dr. Bedelia is quite aware of who and what Hannibal is.

As we look to the recent past, we see that Dr. Gideon and Hannibal had quite a few interesting dinners together. There was a lot of conversation about how Gideon wondered how Hannibal would feel when it became his time to be the hunted animal. I have to say, those scenes got a little more disturbing each time we meet up at the dinner table. Gideon looks worse and worse each time and something about him seems to be missing. I’ll let you chime in when you get to that point.

We also get a glimpse into how Hannibal seasons and prepares the meats that go into his recipes. He takes great care to marinade his cuts with sauces and spices and even shows how he grooms and feeds the snails he will later use in his cooking. There was some awkward moments with that one. And the way Gideon looks on at what he is going to be served actually makes you feel sorry for the guy.

Strangely, as Hannibal begins to settle in with this new job, a new visitor shows up on their doorstep. He gets invited over for dinner and Dr. Bedelia is actually shocked Hannibal, "lets him go". Ok, that is pretty grim business. Bedelia knows exactly what Hannibal is capable of and even makes the unusual comment that Hannibal "wants her to taste good" when a comment is made about the food she is eating. This makes for some raised eyebrows at the table and their guest begins to wonder what sort of party he’s been invited to.

But the new visitor is brought back and it seems Hannibal is back to his old tricks and Bedelia is right at his side.

I have no doubt this is going to be an eye opening, jaw dropping season. I think Hannibal is an incredibly suspenseful and dramatic telling of the Hannibal story that is far superior to the crap movies that Anthony Hopkins put out. That Hannibal was laughable and pathetic. Not once did he instill any sort of fear, nor did he ever come across as anything but a buffoon. When I first watched Silence of the Lambs, I thought it was a stupid movie and Hannibal was a joke. Why would anyone be afraid of this guy? He comes across with the mental capacity of an ice cube, not someone who is calm, calculated and always one step ahead in the game.

The Hannibal of the TV series is far more compelling. He is sophisticated, soft spoken, elegant, refined and hides all his misdeeds behind a wall of calm that keeps you completely on edge. Strangely, Hannibal from the series is someone you’d actually like to know.

Who knows where this season will go and if there will be a season 4. I really hope there is as I would love to see them remake the 3 movies as season long episodes. The previous movies would pale in comparison as to what this team would be able to pull together.

We are off to an extremely dangerous start and so much has already been revealed and set in motion. We haven’t seen Will or Jack yet, and we have no idea how many of them survived, but I have no doubt they will be back with a vengeance and will be hell bent to catch Hannibal and have their revenge. Just like the other seasons, this is going to be great and we are in for a treat full of deception, lies and misdirection. And even when we think we know what’s going on, more will be revealed that will completely throw us for a loop.

Who else caught the opening episode? What did you think?

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