One wouldn’t think that a TV show containing the words “Confirmation” and “Hard Evidence” in its title would require a question mark as well. In the case of the lurid and sometimes entertainingly ludicrous “Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us?,” the punctuation is highly appropriate (though if this were on Fox, you can bet that namby-pamby question mark would be outta there). Eliminate the copious padding from this special — NBC assiduously avoids the words “documentary” or “report” in its press materials — and some material is mildly eerie or eyebrow-raising. But two hours of this is overkill, particularly when one gets the distinct feeling that few involved are investing much personal commitment into this project.
Narrated by Robert Davi (who wanders a cheesy set made to look like a sparsely treed forest at night) with his trademark grave basso profundo, “Confirmation” fails to make a terribly convincing case for some of its more extravagant suggestions — namely, that aliens may be planning to force us to mate with them to advance their race. In dire tones, Davi queries, “Are thousands being kidnapped by an alien species and being subjected to horrifying experiments?”
What follows is a fairly typical smorgasbord of archival footage, talking-head shots of self-proclaimed abductees and so-called experts, and re-enactments of UFO sightings and aliens pawing victims that wouldn’t pass muster on an episode of “The X-Files.” Some of the experts are referred to, vaguely, as an “investigative columnist” or the editor of “CNI News,” with no explanation of what CNI is (it’s a UFO publication and Web site; “CNI” stands for Contact with Nonhuman Intelligence). “It is potentially very strong evidence of something curious,” one expert observes.
Footage of a UFO hovering over a Mexican city is roundly debunked — which doesn’t prevent the producers from showing it repeatedly. The same footage is routinely shown ad nauseum: A man declaring, “A probe was put up my right nostril,” while more or less demonstrating, is included three times.
A rehash of the Roswell incident, the ufologist’s Holy Grail, adds nothing new, and Whitley Strieber, author of the bestseller “Communion” (and exec producer of this special, though that’s not noted in his segments), threatens to usurp Davi’s role when he trots out and interviews abductees. Make what you will of Strieber’s eyewitnesses, but he milks them for all the drama he can muster.
A segment on a Northridge teenager who has created a Web site dedicated to often censored UFO-related documents relates –very chillingly, of course — that the government has been reticent to send the young man the material he routinely requests under the Freedom of Information Act. He and the producers find something terribly sinister about that. Isn’t it possible, though, that lazy, underpaid government grunts just don’t feel like photocopying, collating and mailing off the thousands of pages of documents he requests?
A segment in which a number of Ohio policemen recount a close encounter, accompanied by the audio dispatches of that fateful night, is undone by a clumsy re-enactment. Footage of some curious aerial phenomena is countered, in a quest for fairness, by naysayers who generally provide plausible explanations for what we’re shown. So much for “confirmation” or “hard evidence.”
“If any of this is true,” Davi smolders, “what does it mean?” More pressing — if it isn’t, what does it mean that NBC would devote two hours of primetime sweeps to material better suited to an obscure cable channel?
Director-co-exec producer-writer Starling Price’s resume includes comedy bits from “Later With Greg Kinnear” (in addition to work on “reality” shows). The fashion in which flimsy evidence is given near-apocalyptic overtones here suggests Price may still believe he’s doing comedy work.