Encounters: The Hidden Truth

Field reporters: Natalie Brunt, Sandra Pinckney, Russell Rhodes.

Field reporters: Natalie Brunt, Sandra Pinckney, Russell Rhodes.

Narrator: Miguel Ferrer.

Host: John Marshall.

The first chapter of Fox’s new paranormal investigations series peers up at the skies with some new material and some rehashing of stuff that harks back to 1947, when half of New Mexico seemed to be spotting saucers beyond the mesas. UFOs, aliens abducting witnesses who are anxious to testify, and mysterious sky creatures laying down “crop circles” again have their own series; sci-fi devotees have a place to touch down.

John Marshall serves as the genial host monitoring reports from field reps, who talk on camera to

women whose eggs have been fertilized by aliens, and to scientists who’ve puzzled over gigantic patterns created overnight in fields.

The 1950s were fertile ground for such material, once relegated to pulp mags, radio dramas and B pix; now there’s the same wonder over airplane pilots who have reported UFO sightings and have been blacklisted by commercial-airline or military authorities.

Some unnamed government agency seems to be behind the censorship of UFO news; no real evidence appears in this first episode supporting the stories.

“Encounters” has the requis-

itely authentic, if familiar, look of a sci-fi inquiry, replete with file footage and new material. However, it loses sight of three mysteries: which governmental agency is hiding the facts, why is it doing so, and who’s in charge? None of the three intrepid reporters seems to want to know — nor do generations of inquiring minds that have been unblinkingly eyeing the sky.

Series has a built-in audience and enjoys the advantage of the sublime fictional stories of “X-Files” following it on Fox’s schedule. It seems like more than a coincidence.

Encounters: The Hidden Truth

(Fri. (24), 8-9 p.m., Fox)

Production: Taped in Hollywood by the Berkeley Group. Exec producers, Paul Hall, Mark Cowen; supervising producer, John Tindall; producer, Bradley Anderson; seg producers, Joyce Goldstein, Kathryn Kaycoff, Chip Selby; special material produced by Kaycoff; director, Thomas McGough; seg directors, Dennie Gordon, John Jopson, Tindall; writer, Erik Nelson; production designer, Cherie Baker.

Crew: Music, Randy Miller.

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