296 – Dark Skies: TV Fact And Fiction with Matthew Kresal

After The X-Files set the world on fire in 1993 and helped establish the fairly new FOX Network as a major player in television, other networks tried to jump on the bandwagon with similarly-themed paranormal shows. There was the small-town horror of American Gothic, the supernatural drama of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the government conspiracy angle of The Pretender, and even David Hasselhoff got in on the action with his “paranormal investigation in paradise” show, Baywatch Nights (and Lou Rawls sang the theme song, c’mon!)

But the show that skewed the closest to The X-Files was a program called Dark Skies, set at the dawn of the UFO age and doubling down upon The X-Files’ pattern of taking real-life paranormal inspiration and turning it into fodder for fiction. The slogan for the show was: “History as we know it is a lie.”

By combining the government conspiracy paranoia of The X-Files with 1960s nostalgia, the Roswell alien craze, and the infamous Majestic 12. It mixed real historical figures with a science fiction story of extraterrestrial invasion and it ended way too soon. With a series pilot directed by Poltergeist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Tobe Hooper and the imprimatur of an appearance by Art Bell himself, it seemed like a sure bet, but it was cancelled after one season.

We talk with Matt Kresal about his new book on the series, finally learning what could have been, and also the real-life paranormal inspirations behind the series.

Some of the topics we cover in this discussion are:

  • How creators Brent V. Friedman and Bryce Zabel created the Dark Skies mythology
  • What did Ronald Reagan’s driver know about UFO disclosure
  • The plan for future seasons of the show to cover more real UFO cases in the 70s, 80s, and 90s
  • The government agents that approached the creators to try and “help them get the facts right”
  • How the CIA and Department of Defense was trying to infiltrate Hollywood to shape the alien narrative

We originally recorded this discussion for a special See You On The Other Side livestream and if you’d like to watch us talk (unedited, so umms and ahhhs intact!) then check out this video:

Matthew Kresal is an absolute wealth of knowledge of classic science fiction television and he was a pleasure to talk to, so you know why the produers and creators of Dark Skies were willing to share so much with him. You can pick up a copy of his book right here and we highly recommend it!

293 – Staying Cool In A Crisis: From Meditation to The Rosary

Horror stories, clickbait, panic porn, your amygdala is constantly getting stimulated nowadays because the media understands that if they activate your fight or flight response, you’ll pay attention. The old saying goes “If it bleeds, it leads” and that applies now more than ever. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic that has kept most of the world inside and glued to TV and social media for two months. We’re constantly surrounded by news stories of how many people are predicted to die, how many deaths are already happening, and how quickly the disease is spreading, and how dangerous it is.

Millions around the world have been impacted by the disease, losing loved ones or getting sick themselves, and millions have also been affected by the reaction to it. The economic shutdown has made millions of people dependent on unemployment insurance for the first time to pay their bills and a system unprepared for such a gigantic influx of new applicants has suffocated under the weight. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses whose doors were shuttered by the shutdown orders across America that had to apply for emergency loans to the Small Business Administration didn’t even get their applications looked at before the money ran out.

The school and daycare centers are closed and parents are stuck between the rock and a hard place of trying to keep money coming in and pay bills while providing their own child care, in essence, trying to juggle working full time from home (or if you work in a hospital or food industry, still having to go in) with parenting full time.

So not only are we worried about getting sick or people we love getting sick, we’re worried that we won’t have enough money to pay the bills and feed the children that we’re now assuming the teaching . Add to that, we’re in the middle of an election year, so the political teams have no co-opted the elements for the crisis and the lines in the sand have been drawn, depending on where your political beliefs fall.

People are desperate. People are scared. A lot of us are not okay. So, what are some ways that we can get back to “okay” when it feels like the world is crashing down on us. Our “fight ot flight” center, the amygdala is constantly being activated lately. So what are some ways that people have stayed cool in a crisis? From just breathing to praying and meditating? That’s what we cover in this episode.

Some of the different methods we discuss in this episode include:

We originally recorded this episode in a live YouTube broadcast during the fifth week of lockdown and you can watch that original conversation in its unedited entirety right here.

The song this week is a meditation track. It’s meant to relax you in just five minutes.  It’s got a beat programmed to slow down your heart rate, it’s in G major, (known as the most relaxing key!), it’s got a Tibetan singing bowl for meditative properties, and there’s even some sounds of rain so that you can experience a little bit of nature. Hopefully, it’ll give you five minutes of peace.