Turner’s TruTV network apparently sees a fertile market in catering to the tinfoil-hat-wearing wingnut crowd, partnering with former Navy SEAL/wrestler/actor/Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura on this flight of investigative lunacy. Fox News’ Glenn Beck does just fine, admittedly, disseminating similar fear-mongering nonsense, but “Conspiracy Theory” seems intended for an audience more apt to live in the woods waiting for the apocalypse than to watch cable. Even allowing for the camp factor, it’s about as cynical as programming gets — and reason to wonder if Ventura was body-slammed head first a few times too many.The premiere focuses on Ventura and his diverse (and attractive) team of investigators sniffing around a large research facility in Alaska. Their concern is that the military might be developing dangerous technology and “what may be the most powerful weapon the world has ever seen.” Among the various supervillain applications mentioned are altering the weather for use in warfare, mind control and interfering with nature to create “an invisible death ray.” In addition to interviewing people (some experts, others just local residents) who harbor this view, Ventura meets on camera with his research team in much the way Harvey Levin interacts with his paparazzi minions on “TMZ.” Growling about the government’s nefarious doings, Ventura saunters around in a black leather jacket and throws a fit when he isn’t allowed to inspect the top-secret facility. And while the show’s press notes say the goal is to let viewers decide for themselves, the ominous music and ongoing commentary make it clear the program’s general assumption is that very bad things are being hidden from the public. Other topics on the show’s menu include 9/11 cover-ups, apocalyptic prophecies, global warming and secret societies. As for that leather jacket Ventura wears, what are the odds that it’s hiding a liquid-metal cyborg the government doesn’t want us to know about? As “Conspiracy Theory” seems to suggest, there’s no harm in asking.
TruTV, Wed. Dec. 2, 10 p.m.
Produced by A. Smith & Co. Prods. and B2 Entertainment. Executive producers, Jesse Ventura, Arthur Smith, Kent Weed, Frank Sinton, Michael Braverman, Barry Bloom; co-executive producers, Chris Mortensen, Mark Mayer, Burt Kearns; supervising producer, Alex Piper; producer, June Sarpong; investigative reporters, Piper, Sarpong; editor, Martin Singer.
Running time: 60 MIN.
With: Jesse Ventura.
Data provided by:Nielsen Media Research (Preliminary Results)