Titanic's Achilles Heel History Channel

  • Thread starter Parks Stephenson
  • Start date
B

Bob Read

Guest
I would urge everyone to watch this program. If some ground breaking research is provided then we will all benefit. However, I smell a rat. None of the principals has denied pre-release press reports. An inordinate amount of pressure has been brought to bear on the different Titanic forums to quash legitimate questions and debate before the airing. Whole threads on another forum have been "hidden" because the discussions they contained were "not constructive". I don't think such blatant censorship has happened here on ET, much to its credit. If we in the Titanic community hadn't been baited countless times to watch "specials" which fell flat we wouldn't be as suspicious as we are now. It would not have violated any NDA for Roger Long or any of the producers to just say for the record that all the pre-release publicity was in error. This one "special" may end up creating such a stink that no reputable authority from the Titanic community will ever participate again. I am willing to reserve judgment but something doesn't feel right about this. If everything is on the up and up, I'll be the first to heap kudos on the producers and participants. On the other hand, if we are the b*** of another joke then I hope all those who post regularly here will call down fire from Heaven on these guys. We shall see.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
P

Parks Stephenson

Member
Bob, no need to explain yourself. Your rat-smelling prowess is well known. Have no fear, though...we here on ET will defend your right to pass judgment before you've even see the show.

"rat," "baited," "stink," "doesn't feel right," "b*** of another joke," "call down fire from Heaven on these guys"

How does one call fire down from Heaven, anyway? Is there a toll-free number for that, or do I have to pay for the call?

Go ahead, Bob, show me how it's done.

Parks
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cam Houseman
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
I am willing to reserve judgment
Somehow Bob it doesn't quite come across that way in all this ranting. I had the pleasure of meeting Roger Long in late Jan up in Groton, CT. I believe he wrote wrote a very well thought out and honest response which Dave Brown posted here and I posted on that other forum concerning the Sunday Times article. But it seems that what Roger said was not enough to satisfy you. You complain about the Titanic community being baited to watch these TV specials, yet it seems quite clear to me who is the one doing the baiting in your post above. My simple suggestion is to do what you said and reserve judgment until you see what the show is really about.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>It would not have violated any NDA for Roger Long or any of the producers to just say for the record that all the pre-release publicity was in error.<<

Really? You've read for yourself a verbatim copy of the NDA these guys have signed or perhaps even the originals?

Oh, you haven't?

Didn't think so.

No matter, even if these people had been at liberty to speak up...(Assumes facts not in evidence)...it doesn't stand to reason that it would have done any good. Look at the fireworks over Titanic's Missing Pieces last year to see what I mean. The voices of reason were out there, some right here on ET, but nobody bothered to listen. What makes you think anything has changed since last year?

Personally I'm not going to form any opinions until I've seen the show for myself. After that, I'll keep my own counsel on what if anything I either agree or disagree with. I expect that most members of this forum will do the same.
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
I would ask those who think they know all about everything to show proof that the news story about the upcoming documentary was "pre-release publicity" written by anyone connected with the program. That cannot be done and therefore the History Channel and/or anyone connected with the program has nothing to confirm or deny.

However, in response to "confirm/deny" requests like the one above from Bob Read, I would ask him to describe in detail what he dislikes about the second scene after the third commercial break in the upcoming documentary. And, would he please do so before the show airs so we can all be looking out for that scene?

--David G. Brown
 
B

Bob Read

Guest
Prejudging am I? How about the title of the show? "Titanic's Achilles Heel". There is no question mark there after the title. That title alone says that Titanic had a hidden design flaw which either caused or prematurely hastened her demise. Has anyone ever heard of "design limits"? If they prove that some design flaw caused the sinking then that's one thing. But if they try to say that the way Titanic broke up was due to a design flaw then the premise itself is flawed. Does an airliner have an "Achilles heel" because it breaks into a million pieces when it hits the ground at 400 mph? No, again, Design Limits. It wasn't designed to do that. If I am wrong then my apologies will be profuse. If I am not will I be hailed as a prophet? No, because we not only have experience with these things but we have the title itself hinting at a bias.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
Bob-- You are deliberately dissembling. I have issued a simple challenge for you to answer my question and instead you go off talking about airplanes and what-not unrelated to anything under discussion. What is it that you do not like about the content of the show, in specific, about about the second scene after the third commercial break in the upcoming documentary. And, would you please do so before the show airs so we can all be looking out for that scene?

For those who do not know, authors, directors and, and producers seldom get to pick the titles applied to their work. Titles are mostly developed by marketing departments, etc. to attract interest. Nothing wrong in that. What's wrong is not having the good judgement to understand that a title is just a name. On books, it is possible to go to some length in a title. The nature of TV listings does not allow that largesse. Titles of TV programs must fit into tiny boxes of published listings and into the on-screen listings of cable companies. Hence, TV titles tend to be pithy, two or three-word affairs.

Regarding bias, I suggest that forming opinions ahead of the fact is nothing but the exercise of buck naked bias.

-- David G. Brown
 
B

Bob Read

Guest
David:
If I need to state the obvious to prove your rhetorical point, I will. For the record I have not seen this particular Titanic program. Now let's talk about bias. Bias would be if this were the first post discovery Titanic program and I formed some opinion about it before seeing it with no indication that anything was out of the ordinary.
But after waiting with great anticipation for the next Titanic "special" with great expectations only to be let down over and over, is it bias to expect the next one to be different? If a man has hit me with a baseball bat 20 previous times and I see him coming with a bat in his hand, I'm going to duck. I'm ducking when I hear words like Achilles heel.
One doesn't need to be a student of the Greek classics to know the clear message of what an Achilles heel is. Don't tell me the producers couldn't have objected to the use of the term Achilles heel. But does the Titanic community need fantastic teasers to pique our interest in an examination of the disaster that might break new ground? Not at all. If the Achilles heel reference just got us to watch and the program and it still delivered the goods then ok, artistic license. But if the teaser is used to gain viewership for something where a premise was formed for a show then legitimate authorities who didn't support the premise were left on the cutting room floor then there's where I have a problem. Don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about when I say dissenting voices were left on the cutting room floor because that has already been stated by the principals involved in the open forum on the TRMA site. However, you can't read that anymore because pressure was applied to the trustees of TRMA to kill the discussion which they did.
Bias? I guess it's a matter of perspective. As I said before, if I'm wrong then profuse apologies will be forthcoming. But if I am right and the Titanic community has been manipulated for economic gain will you remain silent?

Regards,
Bob Read
 
P

Parks Stephenson

Member
Bob,

I feel your pain. How dare the entertainment industry manipulate you into watching their programme! After reading your posts, I'm going to violate my Non-Disclosure Agreement -- and thereby risk legal sanction by the producers -- by revealing the conclusion that we arrived at by the end of the show:

The boat sank. You know the rest.

Parks
 
B

Bob Read

Guest
Parks:
Oh, so this is merely entertainment. I must have missed something. I thought there was some science going on here. And I thought the Titanic community had authorities who were giving input. My mistake again.

Just let me get this completely clear: Everyone here is saying that I and the Titanic community as a whole have absolutely no experiential basis on which to be somewhat suspicious of what this
program will offer. Is that what is being said?

If the only conclusion will be that "the boat sank" then I am mistaken. This will be a worthy endeavor indeed. We can't state the obvious enough. So by violating your NDA you are saying catgorically that no claims will be made beyond,
"the boat sank"? If the maxim: "Where there's smoke, there's fire" is true then this thing may end up being an inferno because an inordinate amount of smoke is being directed at my nether regions.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cam Houseman
P

Parks Stephenson

Member
Bob,

Of course this is the entertainment industry! Didn't you know that all Titanic wreck exploration and analysis since 1986 has been funded in whole or in part by the entertainment industry?!? I mean, really...who but production companies have the available budgets to pay for expensive deep-ocean expeditions to an ocean liner that sank almost a century ago? Even NOAA had to partner with National Geographic to visit the wreck in 2004 and because of the impact that expedition had on their operating budget, won't be able to afford a revisit anytime soon.

I am surprised that you did not realise this, since you volunteered to step up and help with the marketing of this programme. My work has been solely in the pre-production arena and I don't know what's been going on post-production, but it seems to me that the marketing guys came up with a way to stoke interest in the programme and you volunteered (probably without pay, like me) to play the role of "antagonist" in order the keep the public discussion lively -- and therefore attract viewers -- all the way up to broadcast. The TRMA trustees evidently didn't have the stomach to play that role, but you persevered...well done you. If the show gets good ratings Sunday night, I'm sure some of that will be because of the fireworks that you helped to light off in order to draw in the crowd.

"The boat sank" is about the only conclusion that I can safely assume will be in the show. I didn't really violate my NDA -- just joking there -- I just used a little common sense. As you may remember from reading my earlier post above, I haven't seen the show. In fact, I don't know whether or not my part (or Roy's, or Dave's, or Sam's, or Simon's, or whomever) in it also ended up on the cutting-room floor. So, as far as speculating on the content of the programme...I'm going to wait until I have had a chance to view the show myself.

Parks
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cam Houseman
B

Bob Read

Guest
Parks:
Of course I understand that this is not a publicly funded endeavor. I am paying for it myself with that portion of my cable bill which goes to the History Channel.

I also understand that things I've said only increase interest, not decrease it. It was never my intent that anybody not watch this. I hope that it gets astounding ratings. My reasoning there is two fold. If this program is
groundbreaking and advances the state of understanding of the Titanic disaster then I say three cheers. On the dark side, if the producers have pandered to the Titanic community
by enlisting our experts only to cut them out because they weren't "entertaining" or worse because they didn't support a specious premise for a program, then I want everyone in the Titanic community to know about it. At that point I hope plentiful discussion and soul searching goes on among the Titanic community experts about whether their considerable talents are being prostituted by cooperation with producers who have disdain for honest scientific investigation if it gets in the way of their preconceived "story". Only those who participate with these programmers will be able to answer those questions but we in the Titanic community at large will have the right to try to influence them.

Honestly, I don't want the dark scenario to happen. But I have to follow the maxim "Once bitten, twice shy".

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>Prejudging am I?<<

Indeed you are, Bob. In one post after another, and in the most verbose way possible, complete with assuptions based on evidence no more substantial then a title (Which the researchers had no voice in choosing) and pre-release publicity and media attention put out by people who haven't even seen it.

Yes, you're pre-judging it, and nobody here is fooled otherwise.

Word to the wise: Watch it first. If you hate it afterwards, (Which may, in all fairness, turn out to be justified) you'll at least be hating it from the standpoint of knowing what's actually there.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cam Houseman
P

Parks Stephenson

Member
Bob,

I share your concern about the fidelity of the show. As I alluded to above, continued exploration on the wreck depends on entertainment dollars. If the show flops in the ratings, then future Titanic projects will be met with ever-increasing skepticism at the network (re: purse-string) level. As long as Titanic shows remain profitable, money will continue to flow into continued exploration.

In 2005, the History Channel paid Lone Wolf Documentary Group to visit the wreck in order to explore the possibility that Titanic grounded on the iceberg. This was a sensational enough idea that the network saw a probable return on investment (i.e., they could see how the idea could realise a profit), so they funded an expedition to the wreck. The LWDG team didn't find any evidence that would either support or refute the grounding theory, but while looking, they came across the double-bottom pieces. Now, whether or not you agree with their conclusions as broadcast in TFM:MP, you must admit that the raw data that was documented and analysed (Ken Marschall's drawings of the double-bottom pieces will be a vital reference for years to come) has advanced our forensic examination of the wreck and provided fertile ground for new theories regarding the break-up.

TFM:MP proved to be a success in the ratings game, too. Because of that, the network funded a follow-up expedition in 2006, in the hope that more of the same would be uncovered. We had every expectation of using the double-bottom pieces to point the way to more finds in the same category (maybe missing pieces of the shell plating?). Unfortunately, the Russians withdrew the Keldysh from free-lance operations and our expedition was cancelled. This presented a quandry...what to do with the budget already allocated? I can't speak to the financial decisions that were debated and made, but I do know that LWDG pressed ahead with an analysis of the data that had been gathered to date, enlisting a respected naval architecture firm to help model the data. At the same time, the producers went ahead with something we enthusiasts have been pressing for...a concurrent exploration of Titanic's sister ship, Britannic. I've got to tell you...I was never happier when I found out that one production company would be looking into both Titanic and Britannic, which meant that evidence from one wreck would be used to help evaluate evidence from the other. And yes, to address your concern expressed in the TRMA forum, those of us working on the project were very well aware of Olympic's history, as well. For the first time in my knowledge, forensic data and historical evidence from all three ships were being viewed and evaluated together in order to look for common threads.

So at any rate, there is reason to have a successful Titanic show even if the conclusions don't satisfy everyone in the Titanic community. Again, I don't yet know what will be presented in the show, so I can make no predictions on how well Sunday's show will speak to you.

I have a personal reason for hoping that the show presents reasonable evidence and conclusions. My name is attached to this project, so if the analysis doesn't come across as credible, then my own credibility will suffer as a result. And credibility is all that I have...Titanic documentaries will never make me a "star" and I have yet to make a dime off any of my contributions; in fact, I have spent a lot of money that I can't really afford (ask my wife) on reference material so that I can be the best historical advisor that I can be. My compensation is in helping to make the shows as good as they can be and to continue to have access to the forensic material/data that is coming out of these entertainment-funded expeditions. If the shows flop and network funding for future expeditions dries up, then we will have no new information coming from the wreck.

Believe me, Bob, I have much more of a stake in the show's success (both monetarily and scientifically) than you can imagine. And I have to say that the producers with whom I have worked seem to me to be honesty interested in making a positive contribution to the history and analysis of the Titanic disaster. If I didn't respect them -- or feel that they didn't value my input -- then I wouldn't work for them. I mean, it's not like I'm getting paid to work, you know? :) You may not agree with all their conclusions, but how is that any different from the debates that continue to rage in the online forums? The point is that new information is coming to light and we are discussing it. Everyone with whom I have worked -- from my fellow advisors to the show's producers -- have no illusions that we will have answered all the questions regarding the disaster. Rather, we have sought to present the best case for your (i.e., the Titanic community) consideration.

You may be either disappointed or pleased with the programme...I don't know. I will say, though, that if you expect the programme to lecture or tell you how you must think about Titanic, then you will be disappointed.

So please, Bob, give those of us who worked on the show a break until you've had a chance to see it first?

Parks
 
B

Bob Read

Guest
Parks:
You concluded:
"So please, Bob, give those of us who worked on the show a break until
you've had a chance to see the it?"

Done.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Top