In Search Of… S04E09 The Abominable Snowman

Unlike the Bigfoot episode, we actually have a bit of budget here. We see people in Bigfoot costumes on snow and in a forest as Nimoy waxes lyrical about man's fondness for monsters. Remote corners of the Earth, and all that stuff.

In Seach Of s04E09 The Abominable Snowman
It may take many years of searching to find the mysterious yeti, but... Oh, wait! Found him!

And now we're building up professional Bigfoot hunter Peter Byrne. Just a lot of hero shots of him trekking through the forest. Nimoy points out that Byrne has never seen a yeti, but has been looking for one for ages. Nimoy, sitting by a fireplace, talks about how the legend of the yeti came to be known in the English speaking world, brought back by British mountaineers.

Now we're moving onto how Byrne left the RAF to become a big game hunter in India, until he got fed up with it in the late 1960s to go into wildlife conservation. He was 'the natural choice' to lead an expedition to find the yeti, payed for by a Texan millionaire.

Byrne came up in the Bigfoot episode too. As I said then, he looks and sounds like an ex-RAF big game hunter. There's a lot of footage of him walking in the mountains, alone or with people. Stirring music over footage of mountains. A little boring, honestly.

Oh, but Nimoy explains how yeti crossed the Bering Straight into North America to become the Sasquatch… Oh, and now Byrne is in a Canadian museum, looking at Native artefacts and pontificating about reverence for nature.

Now to England, where Byrne talks to a bunch of crusty British mountaineers as they all sit in leather armchairs in some club. If, like myself, you like watching crusty old British people telling outrageous stories, then this is the best bit of a rather underwhelming episode.

One of the old dudes, Lord Hunt, tell of hearing a wailing noise that he thought might be a yeti. The sound people play what sounds like an elephant's trumpeting that's been run through an electronic filter, even though his lordship says it sounded 'like a peacock'.

Byrne describes what he thinks a yeti looks like, which is illustrated by a guy in a yeti costume running on a mountainside. Nimoy tells us that we're now going to Nepal, where we hope to find proof that the yeti exists.

Sometimes this show runs by just shoving stuff at you relentlessly, fact, image, idea, question, bang bang bang. And sometimes it's unbearably slow. Half this episode is over and all we have is: some claim to have seen a yeti, Peter Byrne is looking for it. And some quite nice footage of mountains, I guess.

Next up, some Sherpa people singing a song. No, really. Nimoy assures us that the Sherpa all believe in the yeti, but none of the singers are interviewed. And then Byrne and his expedition are paddling an inflatable raft down some rapids.

Byrne tells his story in a very clipped, matter of fact way that frankly adds nothing to the interest level of the episode. A messenger gives Byrne a letter inviting him to see a lama. Travelogue of Katmandu. Nimoy tries to build up how interesting the city is, as Byrne talks to the lama about the yeti. The lama is actually pretty clear that he does believe in the yeti, and even has a piece of bone that supposedly comes from a yeti.

More mountains. Sherpa. Nimoy filling like crazy. Byrne talks about seeing tracks and hearing stories. The Sherpa guides say they've never seen yeti either. The electronic music goes crazy, desperately trying to make the charisma-less Byrne seem interesting as he tells a tale of how a Sherpa nearly saw a yeti one time. The re-enactment is particularly feeble.

I don't like this episode. Have I made that clear? There's nothing here. With the Bigfoot episode, at least they had a bunch of different anecdotes about seeing the big guy. This is just a record of people not seeing something that probably isn't there.

And we're back to the club. A surprisingly non-aristocratic mountaineer, Don Willins – who is a lousy storyteller – tells a story about seeing what he thought was a rock in the distance, but then it moved. So, probably yeti? The best part of his story is when he explains why he'd be against shooting a yeti, which is quite reasonable.

We conclude with Nimoy relaying a message from Lord Hunt, who apparently rang to explain that he'd heard the yeti again. In the morning, Hunt saw tracks in the snow and took a photo, which went on the cover of the Geographical magazine.

This was a very slow episode. It reminds me of the Ghosts episode with Hans Holzer, which followed the same pattern of letting the investigator drive the episode. It's not a terrible idea in theory, it's just that neither Holzer nor Byrne really have the charm to carry it off, however passionate they may be about their subject.

Quote

Don Willins: "If this creature has survived for hundreds of thousands of years, who am I to go around shooting it? My feeling was, 'the best of luck, mate.'"

Summing up

Interest: 3/10, Music: 5/10, Nimoyness: 6/10, Byrness: 2/10, Footage of mountains: 10/10. Overall: 26/50. Credit.

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