Skeptical Review: 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty, Episode 1

“Approximately 15,000 new species are found every year, so there’s every reason to believe that Bigfoot will be found.” So says Dean Cain in the opening of the $10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty (10MBB), the new reality show airing Friday nights on Spike TV (you can also watch it online). This reality competition show is pitting ten teams of Bigfoot hunters against each other in a race to collect actual, verifiable evidence of the existence of Bigfoot. If a team can do it, they will get $10 million dollars. Can they do in seven episodes what others have failed to do for decades?

Bigfoot_Cast

 

While I’m sure there will be more than a few Reality TV sites and Bigfoot believer sites talking about the show, it seemed like a fun idea to watch 10MBB and review the series with a skeptical eye. So for the next few weeks I’m going to be posting thoughts and commentary every Monday.

As a preface, if you haven’t watched the first episode yet (and even if you have), I highly recommend listening to the latest episode of MonsterTalk [you should be listening to MonsterTalk anyways], where the two non-Ex-Superman hosts of the show, Dr. Todd Disotell and Natalia Reagan, really did a fine job of explaining the show behind the hype. In all seriousness, that interview completely changed my mind on giving this series a chance.

Enough setup. On to Episode 1!

10MBB is a competition, so of course the episode begins with introducing the ten teams vying for the prize. The contestants are a finely balanced demographic salad, just like all these sorts of reality competitions are. There’s the African-American team; the Native American team; the Two Women team; and then a spectrum of Caucasians from young to old, plain to attractive, and boring to insane, paired up either man-woman or man-man. Completely lacking seemed to be a team of trained skeptics; though one team claimed to be “highly skeptical” of Bigfoot’s existence, none are presented as filling a skeptical role on the series. Pretty much every group thinks there’s something out there to actually find.

Some of the teams stood out early. Stacey & Dave started off on the wrong foot by trying to equate their potential Bigfoot discovery with Neil Armstrong’s Moon landing; I’m calling them Team Dudebro from here on out. I quickly loathed Matthew & Julie, who I am predicting is the team most likely to shoot another contestant this season; I’m calling them Team Most Dangerous Game. I kind of liked Michael & Kat, even though Michael is an “outdoorsman” while Kat is a “ghost hunter” and they don’t seem to have any real-world connection to each other; they shall be Team Odd Couple. Finally, I couldn’t wait to hear more from Justin & Ro, the most deluded team in the field. Well, Justin is deluded; Ro just seems along for Mr. Justin’s Wild Ride. Still, Justin claims to have killed a Bigfoot and Ro co-produced the movie about it, so they are definitely Team Crazy. The rest of the field wasn’t terribly noteworthy so far.

Go, Team Crazy!

Go, Team Crazy!

The show moved quickly to the Field Test, the first challenge of the game. Each episode begins with a small-scale challenge which can win a team a benefit in the second challenge (pretty typical for a reality competition). The Field Tests are also where the hunters are taught “essential skills needed to track down Bigfoot” — which, as it turns out, means teaching these non-scientists some basic scientific method! This week, the hunters learn how to properly collect a DNA sample with a biopsy dart. It’s the best skill to lead off with since a DNA sample is the way the hunters can win the big prize.

The teams head off into a wild game preserve to collect samples and very quickly Team Crazy prove they’re the team to beat — at least in terms of television-worthy antics. In an effort to hide their scent, Justin begins to roll around in some mud and scat, and convinces Ro to do the same. Justin even puts some scat inside his mouth to mask his breath. I love this guy!

The rest of the Hunt segment is used by the editors to set up a conflict between Team MDG and Dax & Rictor, a pair of Bigfoot enthusiasts who as of this point have not inspired a team name. Team MDG dismisses Dax & Rictor as amateurs; Dax & Rictor call Team MDG “Biff & Buffy,” which made me like them a little more. A little while later, when Team MDG wins the Field Test, they’re clearly being set up as the team everyone hates.

After the Field Test was a segment where Natalia and Dr. Todd asked the contestants about their Bigfoot encounters. Team Crazy ratchets up their game at this point when Justin claims to have killed not just one, but TWO Bigfoots, including a juvenile that he says he strangled to death. When Natalia asks him if he brought back sample proof, he claims that he has, and that the samples tested as “Feral Human.” Dr. Todd quickly points out that you can’t tell if something is feral through their DNA because it’s a behavior, and so Justin’s samples were human, and if so, “he’s committed murder.” It was a nice moment of calling out a probably made-up story with some basic skeptical criticism.

Finally, we get to the Hunt — an all-night Sasquatch search where the teams are (thankfully!) armed only with biopsy darts. [I really can’t wait for the episode where someone — probably Team MDG — shoots another contestant.] The lack of critical thinking on display during the Hunt is stunning. Every hair is possibly Bigfoot hair; every scat chunk is possibly Bigfoot scat; every shadow is possibly Bigfoot’s shadow. Even something obviously NOT from Bigfoot, like elk scat, gets viewed as evidence because they’re a potential “food source” for Bigfoot and so elk scat means Bigfoot may be nearby!

Then Team Crazy does it again. They identify a “possible Bigfoot cave,” because apparently it’s known that Bigfoot lives in caves, I guess? Justin tells us that “the chances of this being a Bigfoot shelter are probably 70 or 80 percent,” and who am I to argue with the psychopath who strangled a Bigfoot child? Anyway, it’s a fun excuse to watch them crawl awkwardly into a crevasse and collect some chewed pine nuts.

Then, at 2am and clearly exhausted, Dax & Rictor become my second favorite team of the show when they — I am not making this up — pull out a lightsaber to help them hunt Bigfoot. Their rationale is that their toy will create lights & sounds that will be unfamiliar to Bigfoot, and thus will draw Bigfoot’s curiosity and draw him nearer. Because apparently it’s known that Bigfoot doesn’t shy away from strange sights and sounds like most animals, I guess? Anyway, say hello to Team Jedi.

The rest of the Hunt segment is spent watching Team Dudebro, Team Odd Couple, and Team Jedi chase an animal noise that they think may be Sasquatch vocalizations. I couldn’t tell if the audio we heard was the audio the contestants were actually recording or if they were added post-production; in either case, it sounded avian to me. The contestants were absolutely certain they were Bigfoot calls, with one team even saying that Bigfoot was “taking” to them.

Act three is the Evidence Review, and here is where the hidden skeptical genius of 10MBB came out. It was ten glorious minutes of Dr. Todd and Natalia calling out all ten teams on their shoddy logic and flawed evidence collecting. Moss that looked like hair, scat samples without testable DNA, a gnawed on bone (“If you see a tooth mark, it doesn’t have to be Bigfoot’s,” Dr. Todd remarked at one point), and even a couple of plaster casts get rejected one by one, and each one gets a little skeptical explanation as to why it’s poor evidnece.  The closest thing to a real sample to come out of it was a scat sample with mammal DNA (non-primate), collected by Donnie & Donnell, aka Team DonDon.

One team, Travis & January, actually came back with no evidence, arguing that they had higher standards than the other teams and didn’t want to just “bring in bear crap when we know it’s bear crap.” While I definitely respect Travis & January’s logical position, they let their standards win out over playing the game. At least bringing in bear crap would have given them the chance to be the second worst team of the week. Not surprisingly, as the only team with nothing to present, they were eliminated.

The winner of the challenge was Team DonDon, and here’s the crazy part: while they may be the most competent and level-headed hunters this week, they’re apparently pretty boring because we got almost ZERO screen time with them. This tells you something about the editing priorities of 10MBB. Team DonDon’s complete lack of screen time despite being the winners says to me that they won’t be sticking around the competition for long and thus were not worth developing as characters on the show.

So much for Episode 1 of the 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty. I am a sucker for reality competitions like this, and I’m a sucker for Bigfoot, so I’m definitely going to stick around for the rest of the series, even though I’m pretty sure that legitimate Bigfoot evidence will not be found on the show. Let’s face it: if Spike TV really HAD concrete evidence of Bigfoot, they would not be airing it at 10pm EST on a Friday night. Still, 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Challenge should be a fun ride.

Did you watch 10MBB? What did you think? Let’s talk about the show in the comments section. 

About Alison Hudson

Alison is a writer and educator living near Ann Arbor, MI. She blogs regularly about skepticism, games, and the transgender experience.
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32 Responses to Skeptical Review: 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty, Episode 1

  1. jeffwagg says:

    Nicely done. Thank you!

  2. Jon Richfield says:

    Yeah… maybe, against all expectations it might be worth watching…
    What I am wondering is what sort of cheating garbage the assorted kooks and krooks are likely to pull for $10000000.

    • Alison Edwards says:

      The 10 million is a marketing gimmick. The standards to win it have been set so high for an outcome so improbable that there’s no realistic way anyone will take the prize. [Also, see my comment about the time slot.] The hunters are really chasing a $100,000 “research grant” for being the last team standing in the competition.

      • Rob says:

        Classic carny scam. “$10,000,000 prize on the top shelf but you only qualify for the $100,000 down here on the bottom shelf.”

    • Chong Lee says:

      It be silly if they actually found BF. The contestants get the last LAUGHS!

      • Alison Edwards says:

        As I noted in my review, all the signs point to them NOT finding Bigfoot. If the series really was headed in that direction it would be a Huge Deal, and not something relegated to Spike TV on a Friday night. There’d probably already be “leaks” that the find had been made. You don’t reveal something as earth-shaking as definitive proof of Sasquatch on a low-rated Friday night reality show.

      • Bill says:

        I’d pay 10M for proof of Bigfoot’s existence.
        N.B: Proof must put odds of Bigfoot’s existence of at least 90%, calculated with Bayesian. I would also need the aforementioned prize money to be able to give away.

  3. pingje says:

    I hadn’t heard about it until Todd & Natalia were on MonsterTalk. I watched the first episode and I am absolutely watching the rest of the season. At first, I just felt it was important to tune in since there are so few reality shows with a skeptical component (i.e., truly qualified experts reviewing evidence.) But after watching it, I like the drama of everyone running around at night followed by a very pointed evidence review. Honestly, I’d watch Ghost Hunters again if the evidence review was this high quality.

  4. Gustav says:

    I have never been able to figure out why ‘scat’ like this is labelled Reality Television. No show so labelled is real! [I must disclose I love Amazing Race.]

    Thank you for the great article, Alison, very interesting.l

  5. Damned Skeptic says:

    I wouldn’t have watched this show if wasn’t for the Monster Talk podcast interview, so I blame them. While I think I understand what you mean about the standards being “set so high”, your wording could give the impression that the standards are set in a way to make it impossible to win rather than being essentially the same as for any new primate discovery which is the impression I got from the Monster Talk interview. Sure, those standards might seem impossible to someone who thinks every pile of poop, cave, noise and blurry photo are evidence of Bigfoot, but thankfully this isn’t “Finding Bigfoot”.

    Though eliminating Travis and January seemed more “Finding Bigfoot” than actually finding evidence of Bigfoot. Apparently it was no clearer to them than it was to me as a viewer that the object of the hunt was just to bring something back and the team with the lamest “evidence” gets eliminated. They should have picked a shrub and explained that it was a favorite food of Bigfoots which are vegetarian.

    • Alison Edwards says:

      If I’m being frank, I’d say the chances of someone winning the 10 million is more than improbable — it’s impossible. There’s only one primate running around the Northwest on this series, and they’re the ones with the dark guns and lightsabers. Lloyd’s will NEVER have to pay out that bounty. They know a snipe hunt when they see one.

  6. pingje says:

    Worth noting: Todd Disotell was previously a guest on MonsterTalk 81 in 2009, titled Bigfoot DNA.

  7. Freke1 says:

    Bigfoot is interesting:
    http://jevningresearch.blogspot.ca/2013/11/cowman.html
    Reality shows not so much.

  8. Freke1 says:

    Why do You watch a Bigfoot hunt TV show if You don’t believe in Bigfoot? Must be pretty boring.
    Thrilling Bigfoot reading: http://jevningresearch.blogspot.ca/2013/11/cowman.html

  9. Kiljoy616 says:

    I am so watching this show, the picture of “Go, Team Crazy!” alone compels me to watch it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is a lot of bs.they are getting rid of all of the good ones and keeping the crazy ones.

  11. Shawn Allen says:

    Let me see, Bigfoot…already silly. Then on top of that it’s a reality competition show, about as dumb as reality tv, no thanks but to each their own.

  12. justin says:

    I agree with allot you have to say but how in the hell do you claim that bringing nothing isnt better then some chewed up pinecone or moss?!? So with your logic i could grab some bark of off a tree and claim that a bigfoot brushed its shoulder on it. You claim to dislike all of the non-skeptical people (as do i) yet you agree with an elimination that keeps a group who brings moss claiming it is hair over someone who probually saw that same moss and just knew it was moss.

    Im still gonna watch the show but already lost some respect for the judges who are obviously looking from ratings (keeping the crazy sociopath and the village idiots) instead of a logical show to try and shed some light on if a species of bipedal primates is even possible.

    • Alison Edwards says:

      From a skeptical perspective, I agree with you 100%. My point was that this is NOT a skeptical investigation documentary, but a reality game show. From a game perspective, the losing team dropped the ball. In a field of crap evidence, bringing in even the second worse piece of evidence means you’re still in the game.

      This is not science; it is entertainment. They forgot that, and so they were eliminated.

  13. Pete says:

    So this is this the same Justin that claims to have shot and killed a bigfoot but took no pictures, took no sample(s), left a killed animal after hunting it, went back days later and the “body” was gone etc etc. Aside from the fact that he is an irresponsible hunter shooting an animal for no apparent reason and then leaving it…the only thing he shot was his credibility. Its also funny that in the episode he said he put sh!t in his mouth…because that’s what’s coming out of his mouth.

  14. Mike says:

    You have got to be kidding me………..and I thought Finding Bigfoot was an insult to anybody who has spent time in the bush…………..
    Your dealing with an animal that is so much smarter than all of these clowns including the hosts.

    I was lucky enough to have attended the Bighorn site the morning after there had been a large amount of activity during the building of the dam.

    Huge and hundreds of footprints at a depth we could not duplicate without creating great force.
    Three 45 gallon drums of motor oil physically picked up and moved from 50 to 150 yards.

    2 single caterpillar lugs from a cat track weighing over 275 lbs. that were laying flat on the ground had been moved close to 200 yards in one case.

    None of the full oil drums or cat lugs had been dragged, they were physically picked up and moved.

    There was no use of machine or levers.

    We travelled and hunted with the natives in the area. All of their traps had been boiled and not contaminated with human scent, they moved very slowly and quietly over great distances over 10 days.

    They accept the existence of the animal and have had hundreds of encounters, this bands history goes back over 600 years in this area. They have always lived in harmony with the creatures and we heard over 120 stories of encounters.

    If they think they are going to wander around that area and stumble onto a Bigfoot they all need their heads candled.

    Rene Dehinden spent over 30 years looking for the elusive bush master and NEVER saw one,
    He was in the bush 95% of those 30+ years.

    The show is not live…….if anyone found anything it would have been reported and if they killed one do you think that would be a TV secret??
    Wake up…………..

    • aldertree2014 says:

      Wow! This is a joke, right? Right?!? Why in the name of the Pacific Northwest would this imaginary friend of yours move this heavy things and leave these footprints?
      Mike, no evidence means no evidence.

      Do you have a source for the claim about:

      “They accept the existence of the animal and have had hundreds of encounters, this bands history goes back over 600 years in this area. They have always lived in harmony with the creatures and we heard over 120 stories of encounters.”

      This sounds like a campfire story to me.
      And, this show was a game show.
      I think you are part of a game, namely, Live Action Alternative RealityRole Play AKA LAARPing.
      LOL

      I think you need to wake up. Really.

  15. scott says:

    stupidest show I’ve ever seen. just watched the episode where they had to eliminate one team. they all should have been eliminated. 2 fat guys found a rock. one woman found a piece of hair but lost it. another woman said she saw something that was it. and another team casted impressions of nothing.

    • Mike White says:

      Just as much chance of finding rocking horse shit as bigfoot. Just in case people haven’t realised BIGFOOT ISN’T REAL.

  16. I just love the way you write! I never read anything that made me laugh the way I did when I read your article. Well done.

    • aldertree2014 says:

      Agreed!

      “Justin tells us that “the chances of this being a Bigfoot shelter are probably 70 or 80 percent,” and who am I to argue with the psychopath who strangled a Bigfoot child? Anyway, it’s a fun excuse to watch them crawl awkwardly into a crevasse and collect some chewed pine nuts.”

      Hahahahaha! Loved this!
      Thanks, Alison.
      I am a fan of yours now.

  17. Love the show. It’s the biggest joke on TV.

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