We begin with a little bumper about Tutankhamun, and then a little travelogue of Egypt. We intercut between people farming and shots of the pyramids. Shots of accountancy firms in Cairo or industrial laundries in Alexandria never seem to get a look in during these things.
The footage is pretty nice, but it comes right out of the “1970s Stock Egyptology Footage” drawer. Nimoy in a white suit gives again a very standard spiel about Egypt, British Empire, Rosetta Stone… Not very interesting so far. There’s some ropey looking reenactments of the court of Tutankhamun shot through a blurry lens for some reason.
Now the standard story of Howard Carter and Lord Carnarveon… Lots of shots of Egyptians carrying stuff through the desert. Same blurry lens. Nothing here that wasn’t in the earlier Tut episode. Disappointing. Music surprisingly pleasant… Opening the tomb… “I see wonderful things”…
When I first decided to review these shows, I began rewatching them for the first time in years. I remembered some of the themes – cryptozoology, disaster porn, missing person, sensationalised anthropology. But I completely forgot the whole Biblical archaeology theme that runs through the show. Why? Well for a start, it's boring. Like, massively, massively boring. Even the dull ghost stories are better than this.
And we open on… Oh God. This looks like it's going to be a bad one.
Some women are manipulating the body of a small child. Nimoy claims this is a 'controversial' new approach to communicating with children suffering from brain damage. He also compares it to medaeval torture. I don't know if this is a legit approach but even if it is, I'm not sure I want to watch.
Anyway, apparently we're talking about studies to help people with brain damage, and naturally those of us without brain damage are wondering if we can swipe that research to benefit ourselves. No, no. Thank us later.
This is followed by some really nice footage of animals – eagles and dogs mostly. They guys have senses that are better than ours, so what's up with our brain? I mean, we a have better sense of smell than eagles do and better eyesight than dogs so… Did I just answer the question? ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E22 Brain Power"
"Ghostly Stakeout". Sounds like the most awesome 1980s comedy that never was. A rule-bound cop must team up with a streetwise ghost to stop a drug cartel or something. Eddie Murphy could be the ghost... maybe Robert Duval as the cop? Just spitballing here…
Unfortunately, "Ghostly Stakeout" isn't quite so much fun as that. The intro implies that the episode will be a re-enactment-polusa, but when we get into the episode proper we move straight into dullness. The extraordinarily un-edifying Sylvia Browne is in a trance to contact a malevolent spirit in a supposedly haunted house. She mutters some new-age/pop-Christian buzzwords during a séance. The In Search Of… cameras supposedly pick up the image of something moving, but even Nimoy wonders out loud if it's just an electronic glitch. ...continue reading "In Search Of S03E21 Ghostly Stakeout"
Okay. I've been reviewing this show episode by episode for nearly three seasons now, and this is the episode that I just can't deal with. I've dealt with UFOs, Nazis, cryptozoology, pseudoarchaeology, disaster porn, New Age nonsense and endless awful 1970s fashion. I just can't bring myself to care about this one.
The thing about it is, there's nothing fun about Creationism. I'm a skeptic, but have a sneaking fondness for the cryptozoologists and UFOlogists. Hell, I can even enjoy some of the other weird Biblical stuff like the Garden of Eden episode from last season. Maybe it's that this specific weirdness has isn't just a fringe belief, but a central tenant of some very powerful people. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E19: Noah’s Ark"
The last few episodes have been a bit up and down, including the wonderful strangeness of Dreams and Nightmares and the Money Pit Mystery, interspersed with sparse fare like Animal ESP and Psychic Sea Hunt. Maybe this next episode will be fun? And it's titled… Angel of Death, aka Joseph Mengele.
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"