Lloyd Bridges as Professor X? Sadly not. In this episode, we are to witness ' the world's first experiment in underwater psychic archaeology,' off the coast of Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California. Sounds goofy. Let's go!
We see some very pretty underwater photography of divers and sunken wrecks, while Nimoy talks about how difficult underwater archaeology. Standing in front of undersea exploration equipment, he explains that even with all this equipment it's still hard to find stuff on the sea floor. But if psychics could find stuff, well then, that would be peachy.
We go now to the Institute for Marine and Coastal Studies at Catalina, where we see a bunch of people get on a boat. Basically, a bunch of scientists and psychics got together to form the Moebius Group, in order to do a psychic sea hunt.
I usually start these essays by summarising the plot, but as Frankenstein Chronicles is a meandering six episode series, it's probably not a great idea to go into it in too much depth. Even so, there may be spoilers. Basically, Sean Bean is Inspector Merritt of the Thames Water Police in 1827. While investigating a crime, he discovers a body – or rather parts of several bodies that have been stitched together into a single body. He is ordered to investigate by Sir Robert Peel (Tom Ward) himself, who feels that the murder is an attempt to derail the Anatomy Act of 1830. His investigation leads him to learn about the story of Frankenstein. But is the patchwork body just a mad killer's whim or an actual attempt to raise the dead?
It's a very atmospheric piece. Sean Bean is excellent as the stolid Marlott, a dogged, guilt-ridden and slowly dying man. The rest of the cast is almost as impressive and the filming is absolutely gorgeous. After all, British TV seldom fails to do right by nineteenth century period pieces. On the downside, the pace is not just slow, it's glacial. More frustratingly, the show brings up a laundry list of interesting ideas, it doesn't do anything satisfying with them. ...continue reading "The Frankenstein Chronicles Season 1 (2015)"
Nimoy gives a truly wonderful narration at the beginning of this, all about lost treasure in a mysterious pit. The re-enactment of some boys digging the pit is cool, the music is perfect. It looks more like the opening to a late seventies kids TV movie. Nimoy tells us that in 1795, these kids dug a pit on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, in search of something buried there. In 1978, people were still digging. Sounds cool! Take it away, Money Pit Mystery!
Now, I know absolutely nothing about this mystery. I think I'll forbear looking it up, because it sounds kind of awesome and I don't want to be disappointed yet. We see footage of the island from the air and old timey-style maps as Nimoy tells us that in 1600s Nova Scotia was a haven for pirates. Doesn't sound that unlikely, in the New World of the 1600s, the distinction between military, commercial and pirate vessels could be pretty thin. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E16 The Money Pit Mystery"
A blonde guy is patting his dog. Nimoy talks about the connection between people and their pets. Only recently, we're told, have people started to wonder if this connection is psychic. Animal ESP!
Footage of a dog in the wilderness. We're told that the animal became separated from his family when they moved, and is trying to get back to them. We see the dog running across fields, crossing roads, climbing mountains and swimming rivers. It's like half the kids' movies I watched when I was five, only compressed into a minute. It is beautiful to behold. ...continue reading "In Search Of S03E15 Animal ESP"
Dreams and Nightmares has one of the most atmospheric openings so far. Unsettling music plays over creepy imagery, which resolves into a man having a nightmare. Nimoy begins talking about dreams over the silhouette of a man in lotus position, with his body swirls and changes colour.
It's pretty trippy, is what I'm saying.
Anyway, Nimoy's big argument is that soon we'll be able to control our dreams. Fascinating, if true.
More atmosphere building is next. Nimoy gives a poetic description of dreaming over footage of a woman going to bed, then having a nightmare about an intruder. This is followed by some beautifully unsettling nightmare imagery directed straight at camera. Tell you what, I'm impressed so far. ...continue reading "In Search Of S03E14 Dreams and Nightmares"
We open on a shot of an icy coastline. We hear low, eerie music and also some sort of musical chanting in a strange language. It's as beautiful an opening as this show has ever produced, as Leonard Nimoy starts telling the story of the Vinland Saga – aka the Lost Vikings.
The Vinland Saga is an interesting story because it's one of the rare instances where the crazy theory actually has considerable support. Basically, some Viking Sagas were interpreted as possibly meaning that Vikings crossed the Atlantic hundreds of years before Columbus. Beginning in the 1960s, archaeological evidence started piling up supporting this interpretation. In the immortal words of Philip J Fry, "Crazy theories: 1. Regular theories: 1 000 000!"
There's a tradition we have every few years where everyone takes a look at the highest profile performers in the UK and wonders which of them will be the new Dr Who. This is immediately followed by the BBC picking someone that is not one of the highest profile performers in the UK for the role.
But hey, it works. Take 1974. Tom Baker? The guy
who was the baddy in that one Ray Harryhausen film? Seriously?
I bring this up because my reaction on seeing Jodie Whittaker's name was, who? The protagonist from Attack the Block who isn't Finn? Really?
Usually I go through these episodes blow-by-blow, but this time I won't because a) I'm kind of busy this week and b) this one won't really stand up to that kind of scrutiny.
That's not to say it's not a fun episode, it is. It's basically a little documentary on Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There are a few factual errors, but I'm not enough of a Sherlockian to get upset about that. The In Search Of… ethos adds the interesting twist in that instead of just saying, 'this is a show about Sherlock Holmes' they say 'who was Sherlock Holmes?'
We open on a bunch of Native Americans. Okay, didn't see that coming. I thought 'Indian Astronomy' as in 'Astronomy from India'. My bad. I don't know if these are Native Americans or 'Native Americans' but they do a dance in some long grass. Nimoy tells us that they're here to watch the sky, which is odd given that it's broad daylight and it's overcast. One of the 'Native' men is identified as a Priest of the Sun. A native woman goes down on her knees. The 'priest' produces a knife…
I am so looking this up.
And then we're looking at Native American mounds, ad break.
We're back. Reenactment time! A guy in animal skins is starting a fire with a flint. Nimoy tells us that we're in Southern Illinois. The reenactor walks out of a hut, plants maize and hunts with a bow while the narration talks up the connection of the people to nature and the universe. Native American documentary boilerplate, basically. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E11 Indian Astronomers"
I'll get to the episode in a moment, but first I want to look at the title: Bermuda Tringle Pirates. I use no hyperbole whatsoever when I say that this title is literally the best thing ever. It is the capstone of human civilization. If, as some argue, our society is in decline, I blame it purely on the makers of In Search Of for using up all so much of our awesomeness reserves to make this title.
Open on footage of the US Coast Guard boarding a civilian vessel. There's no music as they go aboard, just claustrophobic footage men with guns and lifejackets making their way through the cramped corridors. A table is laden with uneaten food, and cockroaches can be seen scurrying about. The penny drops that this is a ghost ship before Nimoy says the word.