Witch Doctors. So the title makes me cringe, but let's check out the episode. Could go either of two ways.

Witch doctor? Why this doctor!
Well you try to come up with a funny caption every week.

We open on a Mayan Ritual, in which a patient's 'evil spirits' are lifted by an old woman using a cloud of smoke. In another room a man waves a guinea pig at a woman to help her become fertile. Nimoy states that these rituals seem weird to us, but reminds us that many people around the world seek the help of 'Witch Doctors'.

We cut away to some old black and white jungle movie, but we're told that the stereotype of the witchdoctor promoted in these types of movies differs from actual tribal healers. In the studio, Nimoy lists a bunch of different types of tribal healer, and points out that the term 'witch doctor' was imposed by Europeans onto cultures they did not understand. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E19 Witch Doctors"

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It was Valentines Day. This is probably a big day if you work in a florist's, a jewellery shop or a high-end restaurant, but for most sections of the Handy Pavilion it was just another day.

There were exceptions, of course. The garden centre was busier than it had been in months, while Nalda in arts and crafts was struggling to keep papier-mâché hearts and red paint on the shelves.

"Excuse me, miss, where's the pink glitter?"

"Ofer dere, and next year buy champagne." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 53 — A Very DIY Valentines Day"

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"So," Fiona said.

"So," Norman said.

They sat at a wicker table, just by the plastic jerry cans in the outdoor furniture section. Not that long ago, Adam would have chased them away, but even he'd stopped caring. A grim, defensive mood had settled over the Handy Pavilion and customer numbers were at an all-time low.

"It's just that sort of a bloody morning, isn't it? Norman said.

"We have to give ourselves up," Fiona said. "We can't stay free while Sadie takes the blame for the armoured cat heist. There's not even any reason for her to go to prison any more. She was only confessing to save Axel." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 52 — Inside Your Mind"

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A woman in a white robe walks on the beach while Nimoy narrates the basics of the Illiad. Helen, stolen away, the Greek army comes after, besieges Troy, wooden horse. True story or not?

Man in pith helmet looking into hole = archaeology

Interesting question. There's an archaeological site in Turkey that is called 'Troy', and which matches some elements of the Homeric description of Troy in terms of location, size and shape. Is that enough to say that the Iliad is a true story? Is it even enough to claim that it is based on a real story? Let's watch.

Majestic shot of Ionian mountains, mellow electronic music. Nimoy tells us that 'relatively few Westerners to Turkey, these days." What? Seriously? Okay, if this is the level of scholarship we're looking at here, perhaps we won't get a satisfactory answer to our question. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E8: Troy"

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I usually like to give a fairly thorough synopsis of movies I review, but let's face it: this one is just too damned long. So short version: Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel) is the leader and architect of a seemingly utopian art deco city. His son, Freder (Gustav Froehlich), is a feckless gadabout who does nothing but hang out in the pleasure gardens. When a woman named Maria (Brigette Helm) brings a group of grimy children into the garden, Freder learns for the first time that poverty exists.

That's very interesting, Professor, but I really wanted to talk to you about getting an extension for my assignment.

He goes in pursuit of Maria, and finds himself in the underground factories that drive the Metropolis. There he views an industrial accident, and has a vision of the vast machines as a temple to the demon Moloch, and the workers as sacrifices. Horrified, he confronts his father, who turns out to be perfectly aware of the appalling work conditions and content to keep things that way. He's more worried about mysterious plans turning up in his workers' clothes. ...continue reading "Metropolis – 1927"

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Seamus the Gnome no longer made his life a secret. He couldn't really. When the full moon rose and brought him to life, he found that there were too many people in his garden section, and he couldn't be bothered to hide himself from them. Besides, one of the late-night gardeners already knew him. Was that his name? Wellsey? Something like that

The old feller wore a plastic safety hat which some keen artist had painted in camouflage colours. He stood in the gap between the impatiens and the camellias, right next to a huge thing of cast iron and bamboo that looked somewhere between an ugly garden ornament and a surprisingly attractive anti-aircraft gun. Beside him was a young woman, also in a hardhat, scanning the skies with a pair of binoculars. A young man was clearly also supposed to be watching the skies, but his work here was hindered by frequent breaks to look at the young woman.

"Saints preserve us, and what's going on here?" Seamus said. "Oh, it's you, Seamus," Wellsey said. "Laura, Carlos, this is Seamus." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 51 – Incoming!"

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Remember.

Damn I love this series. Last episode: swamp monsters. Next episode: Troy. This episode: hypnosis. The modern successors of In Search Of… are multiple season shows, looking at a single subject -- 'aliens', 'ghosts', 'bigfoot', whatever. In Search Of… flits around between weird ideas between episodes, and weird theories within the episodes. Just that way it piles ideas upon ideas is so impressive, I'm more than prepared to forgive the fact that so many of these ideas are pure nonsense.

Anyway, hypnosis. Got to be honest, I don't know much about the subject. I know medical research into hypnosis has been on-again off-again for ages, but it really took a hit in the '80s with all of that questionable 'recovered memory' stuff. My research for this review consisted of asking a doctor about hypnosis and being answered with a confused glance. I think that says it all ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E17 Hypnosis"

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Ms Shan sat behind the desk in her little office, her fingers steepled in front of her.

"Officially, I can take no action," Claudia Lebeau said.

"I understand," Jasu Shan replied, and it was the worst thing she could possibly have said.

If Jasu had argued, Claudia had arguments. If she'd shouted, Claudia could have stalked off in a huff. If she'd threatened, well, Claudia could have reminded her that she was in no position to make more enemies.

Instead,  she'd simply agreed. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself: Chapter 50 — Third Wheels and Fifth Columns"

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A sighting episode! Yay!

We open on footage of trees reflected in swamp water. Nimoy waxes lyrical about the terrors to be found in a swamp. We're told that an 'experience guide' went into the swamp in '73. "His outing became the stuff that nightmares are made of".

The monster's afoot!

Oh, I think we're in for a good one! ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E16: Swamp Monster"

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Back in the 1960s that blandest of bland American cultural icons, Archie was brought to TV as an animation. From that show came a more fantasy-centered spinoff, based on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and spun off from that came a weird show called the Groovie Goolies. It has two things in common with Archie spinoffs: it's A) not very funny but B) waaaaaay funnier than Archie.

Look, it was the 1970s. It was a different time. Everyone was SO high.

The Groovy Goolies are basically cute cartoon versions of a bunch of different monsters – ghosts, mummies, witches, gouls and what have you. They live in a castle called Horrible Hall, and play in a bubblegum rock band headed by Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster. However, these horror elements are all purely decorative. The characters and situations are all perfectly kid friendly, no scares to be seen – in fact, the monstrous main characters were frequently depicted as terrified by perfectly mundane situations. ...continue reading "The Groovie Goolies – 1970-71"

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