Amelia Earhart

We start with a nice, matter-of-fact opening. The who-what-where or Amelia Earhart's final flight. Good, basic journalism, over newsreel images of Earhart, 1930s planes, and the ocean. Solid intro. It's going to get silly after this, isn't it?

It is, mostly thanks to this guy.
It is, mostly thanks to this guy.

Next up is newsreel footage of Earhart's triumphant return to New York after her solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1932. A tickertape parade, how nice! Nimoy shushes while Earhart gives a speech from behind a battery of old-timey radio microphones.

"It is much easier to fly the Atlantic Ocean now, than it was a few years ago," she says. "I expect to be able to do it in my lifetime again. Possibly not as a solo expedition, but in regular trans-Atlantic service, which is inevitable in my lifetime." ...continue reading "In Search Off… S01E15 Amelia Earhart"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Nazi Plunder

It's got Nazis, it's got plunder, it's got treasure hunting. Could be good? Let's find out.

Look, Mein Fuhrer, Waldo is right over... Wait. It's not him. False alarm.
Look, Mein Fuhrer, Waldo is right over... Wait. It's not him. False alarm.

We open on a few minutes of WWII archive footage. WWII. It's nice footage and beautifully narrated, but the TLDR of it is that the Nazis lost the war but didn't have the good manners to put back the stuff they pinched. Then to the studio, where Nimoy talks with righteous relish of the decline of the Third Reich. He explains how senior Nazis like Martin Borman took off with stolen gold and artwork. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E14 Nazi Plunder"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

"Abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art! The tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil!" - Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

"I can't help it. It's the way I'm made." – Herman Munster, The Munsters.

Cue surf guitar.
Cue surf guitar.

In the generation after World War II, suburban life got to be the big thing in America. That's not just a physical or an economic statement, though it is. Vast new swathes of housing were being built for a new, prosperous class. Rising wages meant the average family could afford a bigger home, and the rise of the automobile meant people could live further from their workplaces.

But as I say, this wasn't just an economic thing, it was a social thing. As more people lived in suburbia, suburbia got to be the place where stories were set. This is particularly true with regard to TV. Upwardly mobile, white suburban dwellers had to own their TVs, and so TVs had to tell stories about white suburban dwellers. Sure, you could still find Lucy in her New York flat, or the stock bumpkins of Petticoat Junction, but mostly it was the comfortable suburban existence of the Cleevers, the Andersons and the Douglasses. And of course, the monsters. ...continue reading "The Munsters are Due on Maple Street"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Teaching ESP

It's a logical day in the neighbourhood...
It's a logical day in the neighborhood...

We open with Apollo astronauts on the Moon, because of course we do. We're told that the lunar astronauts experienced unusual perceptions during their journeys, and that astronaut Edgar Mitchel tried to send telepathic images from the Moon to the Earth in 1971. We are told that the chance of his results being accidental are quite low.

Cut to Nimoy at a table with a bunch of kids using Zenner cards, for testing telepathic powers. All of a sudden, I find myself switching from scepticism to jealousy. Why didn't I get to play 'psychic guess the card' with Nimoy? I'm not much younger than the kids in the story would have been.

Then it hits me: Nimoy has broken the fourth wall. In a documentary. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E13 Teaching ESP"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Nebulae! Our voices have ascended to the heavens. We're awaiting a reply. I'm a little bored already. I'm not a SETI enthusiast. Honestly, I'd prefer some nice juicy account of a UFO abduction to footage of radio telescopes, even if that is where the call from space will arrive.

InSearchof1.12

But then out of the blue, we're talking about communicating with dolphins and suddenly I'm awake again. Nimoy tells us if we can communicate with one 'strange intelligence' that may give us the tools to talk to others. Interesting.

It wasn't going to last long. Then we're back to nebulae, portentous talk about the possibilities of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and footage of, you guessed it! Radio telescopes. Nimoy gives a narration about the importance of radio telescopy, and damn but does he hit it out of the park. I'm starting to think that maybe there's something to my theory that he just likes the space stuff better than the pseudoarchaeology. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E12 A Call From Space"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Psychic Detectives

We open on a man handling a ring. Nimoy tells us that the man claims that he can visualise scenes related to the ring. There's stock footage of police cars and then back to the man with the ring. We're told he's Peter Hurkos and that he has 'hard information'. Names, places, dates. "He calls himself a psychic detective," Nimoy intones. A big claim, from Mr Hurkos-- and one that this episode seems to have little interest in investigating.

This episode is a little short on cool visuals, so here's a picture of Leonard Nimoy in his study. Enjoy!
This episode is a little short on cool visuals, so here's a picture of Leonard Nimoy in his study. Enjoy!

We go on to see Chief Detective Lowry, a 1970's cop in St Louis. We're assured that he solves crimes by conventional means. That is, until a kidnapping case in the mid '70s, where he couldn't find the victim. At the request of the victim's family, Lowry called in a psychic, who located the kidnapping victim. Fascinating, if true. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E11 Psychic Detectives"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Atlantis

Cold open on Easter Island, many, many miles from the Atlantic. Nimoy proclaims the famous statues a mystery, which they were. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that they were still a big mystery in the 1970s, though these days we've got a decent idea of how and when they were made. But that's not what gets me. What gets me is the In Search Of… three step. 1: Identify something as unexplained. 2: Assume that 'unexplained' is 'inexplicable'. 3: Explain it anyway. It's not good science, but damn it's fun to watch!

Atlantis

Now Maya (or maybe Olmec, I'm no expert) statue heads, stand a distance from where they were carved. See the connection yet? Macchu Piccu and Californian petroglyphs, the Cerne giant (I think) and some other big statues. These indicate advanced technology, Nimoy says, which I guess is true for certain values of 'advanced'. Now, remember a few weeks ago when anything that might have been tricky for old-timey people to accomplish was actually the doing of aliens? Turns out it was actually the doing of Atlanteans. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E10 Atlantis"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

"His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful." -- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"You loved your Creature so long as it was pretty, but when it lost its looks, huh? That was another matter." – Dr Polidori, Frankenstein: the True Story

Boy's night in
Boy's night in

After the events of Part One, the Creature (Michael Sarrazin) has survived his plunge into the English Channel. Dragging himself ashore, he hides out in the home of a blind man (Ralph Richardson). He befriends to the man, and falls in love with his daughter (Jane Seymour. Alas, he scares her out of the house and she is run over by a coach. ...continue reading "Frankenstein: the True Story Part Two – 1973"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Martians

Martians! Squeeee! Maaaartiaaaaans!

Ahem. I'm sorry, let's start again. We open with a rather uninspired monologue about seeking life in the stars, but combined with the music and some lovely astronomical footage it becomes quite interesting. It's easy to be mean about In Search Of's  visuals sometimes, but I like this old timey footage of stars and planets. CGI has made contemporary documentary makers lazy. Shots of space all look like bloody video games.

Science? Science!
Science? Science!

Now a lovely tone poem about the birth of the sun. Roughly correct science, surprisingly suitable electronic music and Nimoy's voice. I'm loving this so far, and we haven't even got to the Martians. Nimoy's voice acting is different here to usual. Often, he's doing this sort of 'voice of authority' thing, intoning nonsense to make it seem reasonable. Here, he sounds more like he's trying to convince. I wish I knew more about Nimoy the man, because I find myself wondering how much he felt he had a personal stake in this discussion of space research and exploration. After all, like it or not, he was deeply entangled in public perception of space science, even though his contribution to this field went no further than Spock. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E09 Martians"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

4

The Mummy's Curse

Now we're talking! Fakey-Egyptian music, check! White women in diaphanous nighties, check! "Legend says…" check. "Coincidence… or curse?" Check, check, check! All right, now we're cooking with gas! Mummy's curse FTW!

When you see this sort of thing in a documentary on Egyptology, you know it's legit.
When you see this sort of thing in a documentary on Egyptology, you know it's legit.

...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E08 The Mummy’s Curse"

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest