Author Brad Meltzer and his crew take on another batch of mysteries, myths, alleged conspiracies, and long-hidden secrets in this second season (13 episodes, plus bonus material, on four discs) of the History Channel's Decoded
. In the first season, Meltzer addressed a broad variety of subjects, from the prophesies of Nostradamus to the fates of John Wilkes Booth and airline hijacker D.B. Cooper, and this season's topics are equally wide-ranging. Did such historical figures as outlaw Billy the Kid, Gen. George Patton, Pope John Paul I (who was in office for just 33 days), and magician Harry Houdini all meet their deaths as the history books tell us, or were there other, perhaps more sinister causes? Is it possible that Fort Knox, the world's most famous bullion depository, actually contains no gold at all, or that Mt. Rushmore, that glorious symbol of American patriotism, is in fact a monument to white supremacy? And will Doomsday really be upon us on December 21, 2012, as has been foretold?
These are interesting, provocative questions, and Meltzer dispatches his field team (professor Buddy Levy, engineer Christine McKinley, and lawyer Scott Rolle) to track down the answers. The problem is, they rarely do; much of what's presented here amounts to little more than overheated hunches, guesswork, and speculation, backed up by precious little in the way of evidence or facts. "What if [America's] superpower status is based on an empty room?" Meltzer asks in the Fort Knox segment, predicting that world economic chaos would be the result--but no one from the team actually gets inside to find out if it's empty or not. As for Mt. Rushmore, they do uncover indications that sculptor Gutzon Borglum was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but there is no proof that he intended his work to signify anything racist or separatist; meanwhile, suggesting that Adolf Hitler possessed the "spear of destiny" (the lance used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Jesus Christ as he died on the cross) and had it stashed in a secret base in Antarctica, so this sacred and mystical object could be used to establish a Fourth Reich after World War II, comes off as mere sensationalism. Then again, much of this is also good fun--and any TV show that prompts viewers to discuss something deeper than the latest Kardashian shenanigan definitely deserves a look. --Sam Graham
Best-selling author and history buff Brad Meltzer has studied and written about some of the most revered institutions and documents in human history including the Supreme Court, the presidency, the Secret Service, Wall Street, and the bible. Along the way he's uncovered countless clues, stories and theories he hasn't been able to fully scrutinize until now. In BRAD MELTZER'S DECODED SEASON TWO, he explores the hidden codes and symbols that surround us. Drawing from Brad's fascination with history, this captivating HISTORY series serves as a foundation to inform the past and reveal valuable stories about the future.
BRAD MELTZER'S DECODED SEASON TWO includes all 13 episodes.
DISC 1: Ft. Knox / Declaration of Independence / Mount Rushmore / Patton
DISC 2: Spear of Destiny / Billy The Kid / UFO
DISC 3: Da Vinci / 2012: The Beginning / Mafia: Alive?
DISC 4: Vatican / Houdini: Murdered? / Devil s Graveyard, Alaska / Bonus