Stop me if you've heard this before. "There's an island in North Atlantic...a curse that says a seventh person must die before the island reveals its treasure."
If you're as avid of a fan of The Curse of Oak Island as I am, then you have these words memorized. Heck, you might even have them tattooed somewhere on your body. For the uninitiated, The Curse of Oak Island is a show on the History channel that chronicles the frustrating attempts of two brothers from Michigan to extricate a fabled treasure from a small island in Nova Scotia.
Many people have flocked to this mysterious island over the last 150 years or so and, as of yet, no one has found the treasure, nor have they been able to explain all of the odd finds and idiosyncrasies of Oak Island. So, is there really treasure on the island? Or is it just an elaborate hoax?
Well, we have spent over six seasons watching and the jury is still out.
Like Rick and Marty Lagina, the wealthy brothers from Michigan, I too read that Reader's Digest article about Oak Island. However, unlike my fellow Michiganders, I never became independently wealthy and pursued my treasure-seeking ambitions of youth.
Each week we tune in and each week we are left in breathless anticipation as the narrator leaves us with far more questions than answers. The fact of the matter is that over the course of their seven seasons, the Laginas have indeed found some pretty peculiar things on the island.
Bone, pottery and parchment have been unearthed from over 200 feet beneath the surface and it begs the question, how did it get there? Sure, the show has thus far been rather lacking in big aha moments and finds, but that's sort of the nature of the beast for these types of programs and in a weird sort of way, it actually fuels our desire to stick with the Laginas for the long haul.
And yet, while the hunt for treasure is at the heart of every episode of Oak Island, there's a whole lot more going on that you might not even notice. Through the exploration of the many, many theories, the History channel is living up to its name by providing a rich context for them. I've learned more about Templar treasure and 18th-century shipbuilding than I ever thought possible.
While the goal might be raising a treasure chest brimming with gold and jewels, the actual story is one of mankind's oldest pursuits. Just like the migration West during the gold rush, we have often been motivated by the idea of attaining instant wealth. It's probably why those SPAM emails are as effective as they are with their promises of long-lost African treasure if you simply send them your banking information.
The show also serves an exploration of the human spirit and the comraderies of brothers. While Rick and Marty have certainly turned their treasure hunt into a family affair, their close-knit group of compatriots has become family for us and we tune in just as much to see Jack flash his trademark grin or Gary Drayton find his latest bobby dazzler.
Over the course of six seasons and counting, we have completely bought in and we are cheering for them to finally get the results that they desperately seek. In a way, living vicariously through these adventurers is as close we will ever get to living the dream of packing up the stakes and heading out West to make our fortune. It's a throwback to a bygone era when everything was simpler and given today's atmosphere, simpler might indeed be better.
The Curse of Oak Island: The First Six Seasons is a weighty treasure box in its own right. Clocking in at 23 discs, you really do feel the weight of investment when you hold the collection in your hands. I found that revisiting the episodes was a real walk down memory lane and the 45 minutes of bonus features were an added bit of value that really drives home the special nature of this series.
They often say that the journey is more fulfilling than the destination and while it would be unfair to speculate on behalf of the Laginas, this adage has certainly rung true for viewers. Whether they find Marie Antoinette's lost jewels, the Templar treasure, Shakespeare's original manuscripts or even nothing at all, the real treasure will be the time spent embracing this journey and discovering just what motivates man to risk it all for the unknown.
The Curse of Oak Island: The First Six Seasons is now available on DVD.