"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"
Now this is what I watch the show for -- just straight up harmless silliness. And I mean it, as weird fringe beliefs go, 'this diamond will make you unlucky' is about as harmless as you can get. Hell, it's possibly helpful – look at the horrors surrounding the diamond industry and tell me the world wouldn't be a better place if people though all diamonds were haunted.
Anyhoo, this episode is about the Hope Diamond. It starts with a truly hypnotic intro with Nimoy delivering a beautiful (if meandering) narration about the beauty and supposed power of diamods. This is illustrated with footage of diamonds, segueing into a backdrop of an actress playing a sorceress as we get into the weird stuff. There's a slightly dull bit in the middle when we talk to a gem expert, and then we're back to the silliness. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E20 The Diamond Curse"
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.
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!"
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?'