Cold open on Bigfoot. You heard me. Clear, unambiguous footage of three sasquatches walking along, while Nimoy gives us time, date and place. He then says that they're just guys in suits, but still – bold opening. Nimoy assures us that these figures are exact duplicates of real sasquatches, but the wasp waist on what I assume is the female sasquatch seems a little out of place.
This episode is looking at the people who spend their time out in the woods, looking for Sasquatch. That's pretty familiar ground for supernaturally themed shows nowadays, but I think it was a fairly fresh topic when this was first broadcast.
Now we're at… Loch Ness. Is this the third or forth time We've heard the In Search Of Sonata for Electronic Pseudo-Bagpipes? I've lost count. Anyway, Nimoy talks about the Loch Ness Monster. Again. Same footage as before. Oh god, the music's even worse this time. The narration then blatantly misrepresents the Loch Ness Monster episode and claims that In Search Of took the 'most authenticated' photo of Nessie ever. Cut to Surgeon's Photo.
On the shores of the Loch, Peter Byrne – renowned Bigfoot/Yeti 'expert' interviews Tim Dinsdale, Nessie enthusiast. And up from the Loch came a babblin' crude -- nonsense, that is. Crank gold. Bay Area tea.
The interesting thing is that Byrne and Dinsdale are both, like, super posh. They sound like they should be commanding squadrons of Spitfires instead of reciting nonsense by the lochside. What they have to say is nothing new. Pleisiosaurs, coelacanths, ho hum. But it's not the content that's interesting. It’s the sheer confidence with which it's delivered.
Cut away to four guys walking along a foggy beach. Nimoy tells us that these men are not 'hunters in the usual sense' but rather they're people who go searching for Bigfoot. Nimoy -- wearing not one but two awesome 1970s collars – explains that scientists are appropriately cautious. Therefore the hunt for Bigfoot must be carried out by people with no standing to lose in the scientific community.
Anyway, Nimoy really nails the heroic introduction of this Bigfoot hunting group, based in the Bay Area. Yes! Called it!
Members of the group are introduced like the specialist commandoes in a cheap war movie. One of them is a sound recordist, one a photographer, one a zoologist and veterinarian and one a 'footprint expert'.
The footprint expert – who looks a bit like Sean Connery in Last Crusade says he's only sighted Bigfoot once but has a rapport with it. He then goes into a bizarre rant about communicating with wild animals that, for some reason, the producers didn't edit out.
There's lots of really pretty footage of the four guys traipsing through the woods. Eventually they wind up in a quite nice looking lodge. The group then sit around ranting about Bigfoot. The veterinarian has a good speech, coming off less rambling than the footprint guy but still seeming just a bit too intense. He talks about seeing a footprint, which made him a believer.
The sound recordist is the most down to Earth of the bunch -- so they make him seem weirder by putting him in a re-enactment, complete with spooky music. He sets up a cool looking 1970s microphone on a tree branch, then goes to hide in a branch shelter. His recording is played while he pretends to be waiting in the dark. It sounds kind of interesting -- little like Bugs Bunny's Tasmanian Devil. He says that he took it to an expert who confirmed that 'twas neither man nor beast.
I mean, no known animal.
The vet is talking again. Again with the intensity. Going into this, my assumption about bigfoot hunters was probably that they were pretty normal people who just happened to have a weird hobby. This guy is disabusing me of that notion. He's like the guy in a horror movie who is very passionate about something monster related and gets everyone killed. The only difference is that except he looks like a Bee Gee.
And now we're looking at monkeys. Because of course we are.
We're at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Centre, and getting awesome footage of macaques. To hell with Bigfoot, this is cool. But long before I'm tired of looking at monkeys, we're talking to Centre's Director Dr William Montagna. I'm sure he's a distinguished primatologist, but he looks like Mr Slugworth from the Willy Wonka movie. The real Willy Wonka movie.
He argues that if Bigfoot exists, then it would be a tool-making animal. Since no Bigfoot artifacts have been discovered, he is not inclined to believe in Bigfoot. QED. His interview is intercut with footage of the footprint expert guy doing the basic cryptozoologist dismissal-of-mainstream-scientists bit.
Montagna says 'I am not an expert in hallucinations' which sounds kind of mean, until I remember that I didn't get to hear the question he was asked, which could well have been 'do you think people are hallucinating Bigfoot.' He says basically that he doesn't doubt people's veracity, they probably saw what they saw, but that doesn't prove to Montagna that what they saw was real.
The footprint guy is insistent, based on footprint evidence. Montagna thinks that the footprints that he's seen have been hoaxes. It's all pretty standard stuff, really. Zoologists vs cryptozoologists in a nutshell.
Now we're at the University of British Colombia's 1978 conference on Sasquatch. This proves that scientists are finally getting off their corduroy upholstered asses and finding Bigfoot. Or not. I mean, I see a bunch of academics who sound like, well, a bunch of academics, and Peter Byrne's chatting to them, but the conference didn't proclaim Bigfoot real. Which is something scientific conferences have the authority to do, I guess? Anyway, scientists are still sceptical.
There's a little more conference footage, and then we're looking at Native American masks and totems. Proving… ? Something, anyway.
Back to the four guys trudging through the woods. The footprint guy talks about developing a rapport with Bigfeet (I had been wondering about the plural). He re-enacts the event – there's wind blowing and spooky music as he hangs a salmon from a tree to attract Bigfoot. Its one of the more atmospheric reenactments, really working on building suspense with the music and editing.
Then we get to his Bigfoot attracting behaviour, which is standing in the darkened woods, flashing a torch on and off and saying saying 'ook'.
Yes, I know. That's exactly what I'd say if I was making something up to mock this guy. But that is literally what happened.
Anyway, he decided that Sasquatch wasn't coming even with him standing there and saying 'ook, old friend,' so he climbed into his car. He then saw Sasquatch for a second, but didn't get a photo.
This proves Bigfoot.
The Bay Area Bigfoot group then walks along the beach in the sunset – heroes all.
Then Nimoy talks about proving that Sasquatch is real so it can be declared an endangered species. And the footprint guy is taking a new Sasquatchologist under his wing. The young guy seems to want to study the behaviour of Bigfoots, and good luck to him.
So what did we learn?
Not a lot, honestly. I was hoping to get more about the hunters themselves, but instead we got the usual In Search Of… message of 'weirdos rule, scientists drool'. An okay episode, but could have been a lot better.
"The fact of the matter is that these animals [Nessies] are real. Like your Bigfoot." – Tim Dinsdale.
"I used the word ook… It's a word that I picked up a number of years ago." Footprint guy.
Nimoyness: 8/10, Spooky music: 9/10, Reenactments: 8/10, Oh Look It's Peter Byrne Again: 7/10, Actual insight into subject: 3/10. Overall: 35/50. Credit.