Cold open on a nuclear explosion. Okay, In Search Of. You have my attention.
Nimoy says that, sure nuclear tests were big in the '50s, but there may have been a nuclear explosion in 1908. We're talking Tunguska, baby! The 'Tunguska Blast' was a real event, an anomalous explosion in depths of Siberia. It's as interesting as hell, but there's that word: anomalous. 'Anomalous' is to fringe thinkers is like a red rag is to a bull.
Looking at pictures of stars now. Nimoy talks about satellites so maybe alien space probes? Maye Tunguska was caused by the V'Ger? Close up on map of Siberia 'a land Nature has forsaken'. It looks pretty barren. There's some Soviet era black and white footage of Siberian peasants and music that's meant to sound like a balalaika. Nimoy gives the usual patronising speech people get if they aren't living in First World conditions. Simple people, ancient traditions, blah blah. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E07 Siberian Fireball"
Old Axel was out the front of the Barn, fighting for his life, but that was something he'd done before. More importantly, he was fighting for the Handy Pavilion. He'd figured it out, in the end. Figured out about the shirts and what they meant and why he cared if Pavilion staff lived or died.
He cared. He'd never cared before. True, he cared about a weird, arbitrary grouping that his stupid parole officer had put him into, but that didn't matter. When your back is to the wall, what does it matter which wall?
Battle flowed on around him. The air was full of sounds of shouting, gunshots, whirring engines. The scent of smoke filled Axel's nose. The tarmac beneath his feet was growing slick with blood.
The fighting hurt, now. That had always been his advantage back in the days when he'd been trying to conquer the world. He didn't really care whether or not he won. World domination was just the challenge he'd set for himself. Axel was as apolitical as you could get. He had no idea what he'd do with the world if ever he had it. Fighting had never been about victory. Not really.
It's an episode on cryonics -- an idea so terrible I can't even be bothered debunking it. Just google 'debunking cryonics' or 'cryogenics = crap' or something. Anyway, we start with a bunch of technicians freezing an embryo, which is a little cool and mad sciencey, but not by enough. Nimoy is in top form, though, talking about how the internal processes of the embryo cease at low temperatures and how that might help to preserve life forever.
After the break, we're looking at ice – cold winds over a snow field, a car driving on a snowy street, people walking in a blizzard. Nimoy intones a little sermon about cold being the cruellest enemy of man. He talks about the medical implications of freezing, and we see some file footage of doctors treating frostbite. Now we're looking at the cold weather gear of Alaskan oil workers.
Jack the Ripper. *Deep sigh.* Okay, let's do this.
Silhouette of a man on a brick wall. A woman a red dress that looks kind of Victoriany in the dark and from the back walks along. Still, the electronic music is suitably dramatic and Nimoy gives a lovely delivery to his cliché driven oration. "The files of Scotland Yard" indeed.
The woman tries to hurry away from the approaching camera but then stops and turns. Oh great, we were doing first person from the murderer. I was fine when the camera was playing first person with Bigfoot, but the Ripper? Anyway, we see a heavily disguised and shadowed man approach the woman, who screams. Cut to black.
Pan across London at twilight. Now this is interesting. In the 1970s, if you filmed in low light what you'd see was not too obviously unlike 1880s London. Nimoy waxes lyrical about the wealth and power of the British Empire, comparing that to the poverty and squalor of the East End.
Trouble is, when they film some extras playing Victorian Eastenders, they and their surroundings are so clean. There's some trash ostentatiously spread on the ground in one shot, but this only emphasises the lack of muddy rat-filled streets and sooty, poster-encrusted walls. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E05 Jack the Ripper"
Water seekers. Dowsers. People with the supposed ability to find water with a stick. It's… look, it's uninteresting. Sorry, dowsers. Sorry sceptics. I know you all have something to say on the subject, but I just don't care. Probably that's unfair of me, but… y'know.
Anyway point is, let's see how this works in In Search Of… We know the show can make Bigfoot, alien abductions and shark worship interesting, but those are pretty interesting to start with. How does it do with something really dull? Let's find out. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E04: Water Seekers"
We open on some mice and an eerie musical cue. Nimoy tells us that some of these mice have genes from several other mice, some have genes from only one parent. We move onto some slightly creepy footage of twins and triplets, and Nimoy wonders if identical clones of human beings might be possible.
Best. Opening. Ever.
No, really, it's hard to do it justice. In Search Of's great strength is its ability to make riveting television out of not much at all. A camera moving through the woods. A light in a stairwell. A weird guy talking about nothing. Whatever, they can make a nothing into a something. This is that ability at its peak:
Disaster porn is a fairly minor theme in In Search Of… but it's always well done. Whatever else you can say about the show, they have some great researchers and access to some substantial film archives. The episodes about tornadoes and earthquakes were pretty impressive, so how does this episode on Tornadoes stack up?
Open on shifting clouds, and Leonard Nimoy explains how cold air meets warm air with the same gravity as if he was delivering the prologue to Henry V. Then… well, footage of a tornado. It's beautiful footage, accompanied by dramatic chords and Nimoy proclaiming the tornado the most deadly of all storms.
Some children in white night-robes run, panicked, into their mother. A hunter encounters a mysterious figure. Nimoy assures us that these people were alien abductees, aka UFO captives. And season three hits the ground running.
Alien abductees. It's hard to imagine a modern day In Search Of like series leaving this one until the third season, the idea having become almost synonymous with the UFO phenomenon itself. I guess in the 1970s, sightings were still the big deal, with abductions coming in a distant second. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E01 UFO Captives"
We start with some very 1970sy models playing Adam and Eve. We don’t see them much below the neck, so the nudity is only implied. Still, I felt very uncomfortable watching this on my laptop on a train. Even the music has a 70s softcore sort of vibe. It's all a bit silly, and it really detracts from Nimoy's retelling of the story of the Fall. Anyway, blah blah blah, we're going looking for where the Garden really was.
How are we going to find it? Well, we're looking for the four rivers that ran through Eden. Two of them are the Tigris and the Euphrates, and we all know where they are. But there are another two mentioned – Pishon and Gihon. Presumably find these rivers, find the garden? I guess that's what we're getting at.
A figure in cold weather gear staggers through a blizzard. Nimoy's stentorian voice cuts across the soft whoosh of the wind to tell us that 1977 marked coldest winter North America felt in a century. We see frost-bound cars stranded on the highway. Nimoy explains that nine people froze to death during this particular storm. An eyewitness tells of being stuck on the road during the blizzard and concludes that if she had to face another cold snap like that, she'd have to move. "Move where?" Nimoy asks. He claims that experts are predicting an Ice Age.
So… yeah. Some serious minded experts in the 1970s were predicting just that. Climate Change denialists still bring this up ad nauseum because – well, mostly because they're clueless jackasses, I guess. Anyway, point is, the ice age didn't eventuate, and thirty years later global temperatures are headed up, not down. ...continue reading "In Search Of… 2.23 The Coming Ice Age"