The best way to describe Sightings is to imagine it as 60 Minutes, except rather than talking about the economy and politics the show spent time profiling phenomenon like ghost hauntings, UFOS, and assorted paranormal topics like time travel and near death experiences. For a good deal of my youth, I loved to read and learn about topics like Area 51, Roswell, and the Loch Ness Monster, and Sightings was a gold mine of information that influenced believers to look beyond the seemingly normal and into hidden worlds we have no knowledge of…worlds filled with frightening pseudo-scientific and paranormal activity!
I fondly remember tuning in every Friday to watch the latest episode and was always sucked in to whatever topic was brought to the forefront, no matter how seemingly insignificant. I was only nine when the series premiered, and watching footage of space ships hovering in the sky blew my mind. Imagine sitting down to watch NASA footage of alien space ships hovering above Earth’s atmosphere…it didn’t just boggle the mind but it sparked the imagination! Like any other kid, the idea that there existed a Sasquatch or Jersey Devil was terrifying, but it also excited me. It made the world feel so much more vast, and exciting, and I always wanted to know more.
Before the digital age, all us “cryptophiles” had to go on were books and occasional TV specials. Sightings brought to light a lot of topics that were normally skimmed over by regular news outlets and even went as far as featuring interviews with witnesses and victims of assorted phenomenon, as well as discussions with experts and skeptics. The series’ host, Tim White, also lent the show some credibility, sternly discussing every news item in a suit and tie with reporters and investigators buzzing in the background.
Sightings invited skeptics to second-guess the evidence, allowing the audience to decide the truth for themselves.
Sightings was a hit show for a while on FOX television airing as 30 minute specials, before being converted in to hour long episodes. The series lasted for five seasons with over a 100 episodes total and was later picked up by Syfy in 1996 before the show officially ended a year later. It flourished in reruns on Syfy for many years, until 2003, and was later released in season sets, garnered its own series of books, clothing, and even software.
Without Sightings it’d have been a long time before I was able to view the iconic photo of the Loch Ness Monster or the Patterson Gimli Bigfoot footage. Who didn’t marvel at the video of the Phoenix Lights, or ruminate on what could have possibly constructed crop circles in various farms around the world? I was also able to learn about subjects like astral projection, past lives, and cow mutilations. Sure, in the digital age, we’re able to learn much more (faster) and most of what’s been featured on the series has since been debunked, but that doesn’t detract from the inherent cult value of the show. It definitely helped nurture my love for the occult and the paranormal.