In addition to the many new books that were published this year, a number of new television documentaries about the Shroud were presented around Easter time. As usual, these ranged from the very good to the very bad. I am including here a brief synopsis of three of these, in the order in which they aired:
The first program was titled Touched by Jesus? and it premiered in the U.S. on the NatGeo Channel on March 29, 2010. Using interviews reedited from previous programs, it was mainly about the Shroud and rehashed all the now-familiar skeptical theories including those of Walter McCrone. Of course, there were also the familiar faces of Joe Nickell and Steven Schafersman, well known Shroud skeptics, so you might understand why I thought the program was rather weak. I am including below a review of this program by website viewer Remi Dubuque, who reviewed two of the three new shows and kindly shares with us his own personal perspectives.
Every once in a long while a particularly good documentary is produced about the Shroud of Turin. Such is the case with The Real Face of Jesus? which was produced by Ray Downing and premiered in the U.S. on the History Channel on March 30, 2010. It is the first television documentary on the Shroud that is a full two hours in length, giving the producers time to deal with the subject matter in much more depth and detail than we normally see. On a personal note, I thought it was one of the few documentaries ever made about the Shroud that deals with both the science and faith issues of the relic in a fair and equal manner.
In fact, the program garnered very high ratings and was so well received it became an Emmy contender in the category of Nonfiction Specials. But don’t take my word for it, because I am undoubtedly biased. Instead, you can read over one hundred viewer’s comments about the program at this link: http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=261203&v=All#tabs (once there, just click on the User Reviews tab).
I have also added this program to the Videos and DVD’s section of the Website Store page where it can be ordered directly from the History Channel. You can also read Remi Dubuque’s review of the above two programs at this link: Dubuque Reviews. (Editor’s Note: The program will air again on the History Channel International on September 15, 2010. Check your local listings for details).
The third program was titled Remaking the Shroud and was produced by National Geographic Canada. It premiered in the U.S. on the NatGeo Channel on April 18, 2010 (after the Shroud had gone on public display). This was a completely skeptical, anti-authenticity program that featured the work of Luigi Garlacschelli (see Thibault Heimburger’s November 3, 2009 article titled Comments About the Recent Experiment of Professor Luigi Garlaschelli which discusses his work) and Nathan Wilson (you might recognize his name as the man who brought us the highly implausible “shadow shroud” theory about 10 years ago).
The program spent most of its time dwelling on their work and watching them gleefully imply (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) that they had completely solved the mysteries of the Shroud. The program did include noted Shroud scholars Mechthild Flury-Lemberg and Mark Guscincompletely different imaging theories was correct! (It can’t be both of them). Truthfully, it was almost painful to watch. I am also including a Review of the program by website viewer Elaine Cowan at this link: who presented credible information, but sadly, in spite of their noble efforts, there was nothing they could do to improve a very skeptical program which spent most of its screen time detailing how Garlaschelli and Wilson each “reproduced” the Shroud. It is interesting to note that the program never resolved which of their two Cowan Review.