‘SOTD: Scanning The Pyramids’ Is A Rare Miss For PBS

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The Great Pyramid of King Khufu is one of the most well-known and talked about landmarks around the world.  Known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid has hidden so many secrets for centuries. So many methods have been used to try to decode the pyramid’s secrets, but so many mysteries still remain.  This past April, PBS presented a new program about the most recent efforts to uncover and answer some of those mysteries in a new episode of its hit history-based series Secrets of the Dead titled Scanning The Pyramids.  The story of those efforts is interesting, though honestly, does pose at least one problem.  It will be discussed shortly.  The visualizations and footage used to help tell the story do help at least to a point.  They will be discussed later.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.  That’s especially considering the other elements noted here.  Each element is important in its own right to this program.  All things considered, the noted elements make Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids worth at least one watch.

Secrets of the Dead: Scanning The Pyramids is an interesting new addition to the rich history of PBS’ hit history-based series.  While not the series’ best offering, it is worth at least one watch.  That is due in part to the episode’s story.  The story starts out focusing on the efforts of a group of researchers to uncover and solve the mysteries of king Khufu’s Great Pyramid, but soon thereafter turns to the methods used to uncover one mystery in question – a single opening on the pyramid that had previously gone unnoticed.  Along the way, there’s a bunch of discussion on particle science and how it was used to determine that apparently there was something behind the entrance.  The thing is that there was no real answer as to what was behind the entrance.  To that end, this episode proves in the long run to just be another focus on the latest efforts to solve another mystery that remains unsolved.  What’s more, all the talk of particle physics and how they play into the efforts to figure out what may or may not be behind that entrance might go over most viewers’ heads and instead keep the attention of a very limited audience.  Along with all of this in mind, considering that the story focuses on the efforts to solve one mystery of one pyramid, the program’s title is not exactly fitting, either.  Rather, it is somewhat misleading.  Pyramids probably should have been reduced to the singular Pyramid instead of the plural in hindsight.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story at the center of Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids proves to be worth at least one watch, but sadly proves in the end to be its own mystery even being worth one watch.  While the program’s story is somewhat problematic to its presentation, its footage and visualizations do help – to a point – to keep viewers engaged.

The footage and visualizations help keep viewers engaged as much as they do because they tend to help illustrate the importance of the methods.  For instance, watching the research of what the particle hits can do to help reveal what might be inside the pyramid shows how far research methods have come and what those methods can reveal.  On the same note, seeing the research team actually hard at work inside and outside the pyramid, working to get everything in place shows how important the project is to all involved.  There is even 3D technology of sorts used in the process.  That visualization alone is sure to leave viewers in awe while the internal and side scans of what is believed to be inside the pyramid will interest even the most novice of  Egyptian history buffs.  Keeping this in mind, the footage and visualizations do their own important part here to keep audiences watching.  They, collectively, are not the only important element that keeps viewers engaged.  The program’s pacing puts the final touch on the program.

Considering that this episode of Secrets of the Dead runs roughly 55 minutes and the amount of information shared over that course of time, the program’s pacing proves solid from start to end.  It would have been so easy for the program to get bogged down in its discussion on solar particles hitting Earth and their impact on the team’s research, but thankfully that didn’t happen here.  It would have also been easy to get bogged down in the pyramid’s many mysteries, but even that element was balanced with the program’s other elements, leading to just as much insurance of viewers’ engagement.  All things considered, each segment and every bit of information compliments the prior quite well.  The result is a program that moves fluidly from one element to another, thus keeping viewers at least partially watching, and more so if they are they program’s key audience.  When this is considered alongside the importance of this program’s visualizations and footage, the two elements do just enough to make this program worth at least one watch since the program’s story proves so problematic.  Keeping all of this in mind, Secrets of the Dead: Scanning The Pyramids proves in the end to be a program that, while not the series’ best entry, still worth at least one watch.

Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids is an interesting addition to the rich history of PBS’ hit history-based series.  Its story shows that it is definitely aimed at a very specific target audience.  That’s rare for this series, too.  Thankfully, the program’s footage and visualizations couple with its pacing to do just enough to keep viewers engaged at least to a point that they make up for the story’s problems.  Keeping all of this in mind, while this program ultimately proves to not be the best entry from Secrets of the Dead, it is still worth at least one watch.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of Secrets of the Dead is available online now at:




Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SecretsofTheDead

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsPBS




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