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William Shatner examines history’s mysteries on ‘The UnXplained’

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William Shatner examines history’s mysteries on ‘The UnXplained’ (Image courtesy of The History Channel)

We live in a time where the answer to almost any question is only a click away. But what about those answers not so easily obtained?

William Shatner examines history’s most bizarre mysteries Fridays at 9 p.m. on The History Channel’s “The UnXplained.” Season 2 episodes are airing now.

As host and executive producer of “The UnXplained,” Shatner seeks to discover how the seemingly impossible can actually happen. Each episode is packed with multiple mysteries under a central theme. Scientists, historians and witnesses add context but it’s Shatner’s eternal curiosity and engaging personality that makes the show compelling, creepy, spooky and fun.

Over the show’s 25 episodes to date, Shatner has asked many questions while exploring some of the world’s most bizarre stories.

How has the body of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, who died more than 140 years ago, escaped decomposition? Did Edward Leedskalnin tap into the secrets of the pyramids and Stonehenge when he spent 28 years singlehandedly sculpting and moving more than 1,100 tons of megalithic stone for his legendary Coral Castle near Miami?

Is it possible for memories to be passed from some organ donors to transplant recipients? Is remote viewing (the practice of using the mind to obtain accurate information about a distant target, person or place) actually real? If not, why did the U.S. government spend 20 years studying it? And the big question: what really happens when we die?

When I was presented with the opportunity to interview William Shatner about “The UnXplained” for broadcast on BIG 104 FM (104.3/104.7/107.7 FM) and print here in The Maine Edge, I thought about my childhood obsession with “Star Trek.” I thought of his “Twilight Zone” episodes, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” I thought of how I’d binged every episode of “Boston Legal” with my wife, and I think she may be right that Denny Crane was his greatest character of all.

William Shatner is an American (and Canadian) treasure, and he says he has no interest in retiring as he approaches his 90th birthday this March. It was an unbelievable thrill to receive a call from him.

Shatner: The whole show fascinates me with these mysteries that have no explanation, that don’t even seem real. For example, we know the Egyptians who lived 3,000 years ago preserved the bodies of their leaders, but we still don’t fully understand how they did it.

The Maine Edge: The opening segment of last week’s show on the discovery and excavation of King Tut’s tomb was fascinating. How bizarre that so many members of that excavation team met a mysterious demise.

Shatner: There was reportedly a curse put on anybody who disturbed King Tut’s tomb. People say “Oh yeah, sure, a curse killed them,” but we know that people have died from voodoo curses, that’s one of the mysteries we looked at last year. So here’s the equivalent of putting a pin in a doll. Another mystery we examine deals with people alive today who bring out the mummified bodies of their dead relatives and spend time talking with them.

Here’s the topper for me. They’ve got DNA on these mummies and they’re resurrecting the bodies the way they did with prehistoric animals. Scientists have used DNA to reconstruct the vocal cords of a mummified monk and when they pushed air through those reconstructed cords, we can hear what the monk’s voice actually sounded like. It’s a sound that maybe the mummy’s mommy would have recognized, like … “Is that George?”

The Maine Edge: The segment on Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was fascinating. There was present day testimony that Booth, contrary to the accepted story, did not actually die in that barn fire in the days following the assassination, but lived until the early 1900s under two assumed identities and that his mummified remains actually ended up in a traveling sideshow. Do you think that’s true?

Shatner: I believe that they mummified John Wilkes Booth and that his body was exhibited as the guy who killed our President. It’s a mystery, it’s unexplained.

The Maine Edge: You have no intention of slowing down, do you?

Shatner: What’s the meaning of slow down?

The Maine Edge: That’s the perfect answer. If you slow down too much, you could be in danger of mummification.

Shatner: (laughs) That’s right. If you stay still long enough, someone’s going to wrap you in cloth and pour wax over you. You’re right, you have to get out of bed and do something, so I like to stay busy.

The Maine Edge: What convinced you to take on this show “The UnXPlained?”

Shatner: Because I’m looking at the biggest mystery of all, life after death, death itself, what happens? That’s the really big mystery. It’s fascinated me for a long time. All those grand questions that you can’t put your finger on and say there’s a definitive answer. Those giant mysteries are in front of everybody. Not knowing the answer disturbs me.

(The next episode of “The UnXplained” is “Secrets of America’s Monuments,” scheduled to air Friday, January 15, at 9 p.m. on The History Channel.)

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 January 2021 13:37


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