REVIEW: 'Expedition Unknown: Hunt For Extraterrestrials' episode 1

 Josh Gates takes his latest conquest to space. (Handout)

Josh Gates takes his latest conquest to space. (Handout)

In the cryptozoology world, Josh Gates ("Destination Truth") is  generally respected for being simultaneously personable , skeptical and respectful of the subject matter he’s investigating.  So, when his "Expedition Unknown" Travel Channel series announced a four-part event the "Hunt For Extraterrestrials," this peaked the interest of many in the UFO field.

Episode one "Close Encounters"  leans heavily on astronomy and exploration , which may be good to pull  in some casual observers.

Gates begins by looking at space exploration by touring NASA in Houston and talking with astronauts and scientists about colonization and advanced tech. Gates then takes his research to Santiago , Chile , which has more per capita UFO sightings than any other country. There, he meets with government officials and views raw military footage of a UFO that baffled the experts. Gates met with another local that tried to recreate the odd footage of the UFO and its omissions by testing with a hot air balloon to no avail. 

Overall, the show displays a more serious tone and straight-forward approach than what "Destination Truth" fans are accustomed to, while still maintaining Gates' voice and personality.  Episode one's more systematic/ scientific style may be more digestible to audiences than “Ancient Aliens”. Future episodes have teased more UFO chasing and eye-witness accounts. 

After the show, there is a weekly round table discussion "debriefing" program called "After The Hunt," which has a panel that includes James Fox who fronted the failed "Chasing UFOs" show, and Gates' crew of stereotypical skeptics and believers. This program is mostly bonus footage fodder and cringe-worthy can-miss chatter.

-By MIKE DAMANTE