It's the end of the world, pass the popcorn.

I remember as a kid being obsessed with the end of the world and with predictions of such. The Zager and Evans song In the year 2525 used to haunt me as I contemplated just how very, very, dead I would be by 2525 let alone 7510. Then I learnt about the rather spooky Nostradamus thanks to a rather engaging radio series on Hauraki about the dire trifecta he was placing grim bets on. But the generations tick over, Y2K has since come along, YouTube has replaced radio and now the Mayan Prophecy is the end-times du jour.

Sadly even before it hasn't happened, this Mayan carry-on has proved to be more of a fizzer that Y2K.

While one in three NZGT judges may believe that it's all coming to and end this Friday, I don't think it's a representative sample. Worse still, the fact that even Jason Kerrison has downgraded his end-times predictions to a wishy washy "we'll be reset or reborn" is strangely depressing. Even the believers have stopped believing.


The fact that no-one is really taking it seriously means that it's a sitter for a series of specials on the UFO loving National Geographic channel, naturally they are milking the Armageddon like a Friesian; with shows at 7.30pm each night this week, including one I've already seen, Maya Underwold (Wednesday 7.30pm).

Ex-war correspondent, now doco maker, Diego Bunuel goes in search of the 'truth' by diving into the underground caves where the Maya sacrificed humans to the water gods - something they did in drought years in the belief that it would please them, thus opening the taps.

As we approach a New Zealand summer we should probably be considering the reverse sacrifice to the fine weather gods, but then again the Mayan's are probably even worse role models than they are time-keepers.

Diego Buñuel (grandson of Luis Buñuel) is no idiot, so he's only pretending to be entertaining the reality of the predictions. Meanwhile he tries to maintain an air of mystery necessary for such an enterprise.

Essentially Buñuel's taking us on a crash course of all things Maya with an emphasis on their grizzly and gristly past, like their form of football in which participants literally played for their lives. Diego takes us to the ruins of a stadium for this bloody sport, which are still standing and in pretty good nick. He also takes us underground into the subterranean pools, which are littered with Mayan skeletons. It's pretty light stuff, but it's hilarious mainly because he tries to hype the impending end-times even though he is clearly not a believer. Cleverly sensing that all the Maya ho-ha isn't quite enough to keep us watching he wheels in some gun crazy American survivalists for good measure.

But because Diego keeps promising to answer the question - "Is the world really go to end?" - he is forced to attempt an answer. This is of course, something along the lines of, "not this week at least."

The upshot seems to be that the calendar was meant to be cyclical thing, the end isn't an end it's just the end of a cycle. Probably would have been helpful is the Mayan scribes had concluded it with "Go back to start, and begin again."

But they were too busy throwing their kin onto fires or into underground pools to worry about how some future idiots would chose to interpret their scribbling. Though I'm sure that would have laughed at the prospect that a bunch of us would be making our own sacrifice by paying eye watering subscription fees to watch doco makers milking the heck out of it on Nat Geo.

I'm pretty sure Nostradamus predicted as much in one of his writings that has so far seemed like babble but is now beginning to make a lot of sense. It's a rough translation but it basically says: "When the feeble brained talking pigs rise in the south, remotes in hand ... brains dull, confused ... oh and forget about that city rail link, but the blues will rise in 2013, hang on, who? Ali Williams? Make that 2525."

Maya Underworld. National Geographic, 7.30pm Wednesday Dec 19.