Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Eh. If you don’t want to read another 694 words, that “eh” is a solid summation of my reaction to the fifth episode of Unsolved Mysteries, “Berkshires’ UFO.” It’s the first episode of the series that landed totally flat for me, and didn’t grab my attention much.
On Sept. 1, 1969, a number of individuals from Berkshire County, including children, were apparently abducted by aliens for an undisclosed amount of time for an undisclosed purpose, and returned back to earth. They maintain the veracity of their respective stories more than 50 years later.
In one example, in Sheffield, the Reed family drives through a covered bridge on their way home when the vehicle is surrounded by bright colored lights and the family has a sensation of being deep underwater. There’s no noise. Then the family, two young brothers, a mother and a grandmother, are abducted for at least three hours, and returned to their vehicle at a different location.
Producers tracked down police chiefs and local historians to scavenge through old police records and newspapers at the time, and to no avail. There’s no evidence this occurred outside of eyewitness testimony.
As such, the show spends an inordinate amount of time talking to its witnesses, as they explain, “Why would I lie about this?” But that’s not the operative question to me. I believe these people believe they experienced whatever it is they experienced on Sept. 1, 1969. Whether they believed it at the time and maintained it as such all these years later, or came to belief that that’s what happened to them because there was no other way to explain it.
I will say, I do find Melanie Baumann’s story of what happened to her at 14-years-old then to be have a weird inconsistency. She was with her parents at a lake, when they see the same sort of blinding light and craft everyone else claims to. The next thing Melanie remembers, she’s alone in the dark by the lake, even though the car with her family had moved far beyond the lake at that point. She said she then walked home alone.
What happened to her parents? What did they think happened to her? That’s a bit odd. Did they just continue going home without their daughter and apparently not report her missing?
It’s also worth pointing out how silly Tommy Warner comes across, both with blaming the abduction he said he experienced at the age of 10 for why he couldn’t get girls and with his silly UFO painting. It doesn’t surprise me that, if asked to conceptually imagine what happened that night, Tommy paints the cliche depiction of an alien abduction that could have been found in any 1950s or 1960s sci-fi film.
Again, though, whether they’re telling the truth or convinced themselves it’s the truth, that’s not the operative question to me. The obvious operative question is what happened to these people? Something seems to have happened to a number of disparate individuals in this county on that night. Enough that they are, as I said, attempting to explain the inexplicable and believing it to be aliens.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of meat on the bone here. It’s the weakest episode by far for that reason. I would have found it more compelling if there was something corroborating beyond eye witness testimony. Eye witness testimony is certainly evidence in a legal sense and all of that, but a fairly flawed piece of evidence.
I personally enjoy true crime more than paranormal or UFO stories, but I’m not opposed to the latter, if there’s an interesting case. But there just wasn’t here. Trying to tie it into the UFO information released by the United States military recently felt rather desperate at the end, too.
When those videos came out, an expert in The New York Times said it right, “earthly explanations usually exist for such sightings — and that when people don’t know why something happened, it does not mean it happened because of aliens.”
These people seem to think something happened to them, but they can’t explain it. Therefore, aliens. It’s hard to accept that, but I’m open to it if there was more “there” there.