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.

Leonard Nimoy's In Search of King Tut
In Search of King Tut

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”…

Not sure yet what the point of this episode is. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E24 King Tut"

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*Deep sigh*

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.

Bridging the credibility gap.

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"

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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!

In Search Of S03E17 Psychic Sea Hunt
Under the sea! Under the sea!

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.

With me so far? ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E17 Psychic Sea Hunt"

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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!

In Search Of S03E16 The Money Pit Mystery
Down down down!

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"

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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.

In Search Of S03E13 The Lost Vikings
Aaa aaa aaaa.... Aaa!
Aaa aaa aaaa.... Aaa!

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!"

Let's see how In Search Of deals with an odd theory that has actually become respectable. I think it will be illuminating. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E13 The Lost Vikings"

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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.

Here's a guy playing with his rod, and I can't even think of a joke to go with it.

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"

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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.

From this episode I learned that the Assyrian Empire was once ruled by a pantomime genie.

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.

So we go to Egypt, to see the Nile, sometimes associated with the Gihon. It's quite a long way from Mesopotamia and the Tigris and Euphrates. Anyway, travelogue of Egypt now. So many quaint ethnic folkways, etc. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E24 The Garden of Eden"

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Sand dunes and electronic music meant to sound like woodwinds. Nimoy says that 'it seems impossible that an empty desert could hide one of the world's greatest secrets.'

Does it? Honestly, 'empty desert' seems like a good place to hide something.

This picture of Leonard Nimoy playing with a toy pyramid warms my heart more than I can say.
This picture of Leonard Nimoy playing with a toy pyramid warms my heart more than I can say.

Anyway, we start looking at the Pyramids, from that very specific angle that filmmakers have to use to disguise the fact that they're not in the 'empty desert', they're in the suburbs of Cairo. Nimoy wonders if the Pyramids are tombs, beacons for alien beings or energy generators. If they were tombs, he asks, why aren't there mummies in them?

So… not going for the 'tombs' theory, Leonard?

Footage of temples and sarcophagi. Some stuff about Egyptian and forces that they believed controlled their lives… There's not much point summarising this bit, it's basically just mush. We're talking about how the Egyptians wanted to defeat time and death. 'Is it possible that they succeeded?' ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E09 Pyramid Mysteries"

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Something something Maya something
Something something Maya something

We open on a Mayan guy carrying a pack through the jungle. After last season's relatively sensible episode on the Inca, I didn't want to jump to conclusions about this episode. Buuut… While we’re watching Mayan people, Nimoy explains that their hearts are unusually slow, their teeth don't decay and their cranial cavities are weird shapes.

What the hell, Nimoy?

They are the descendants of a vanished people. Well, no. Mayan civilization vanished, the Mayan people didn't. If they did, they wouldn't have left any descendants. Duh. Nimoy asks where they came from and why their civilization flourished and then disappeared. The answer to the second one is easy: because that's what civilizations do, it's just a question of timescale. I anticipate serious silliness when it comes to answering the second question. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S02E04 Mayan Mysteries"

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We open on Stonehenge, silhouetted against the sun. Awesome. Nimoy talks about how people built 'this great machine' then disappeared, leaving their work behind them.

Great cold open, seriously. Almost immediately, we're looking at footage of modern day druids, and Nimoy's talking about a 'strange power' in the place. I'm kind of pleased. After a couple of not-too-factually-awful episodes, I could really use some of the good stuff. We're not just looking at Stonehenge. We're looking at the magic of Stonehenge. Now, is that going to be the main thing we're looking at? Or is it going to be an enticement to see a relatively straightforward documentary, treasure in the Inca Treasure episode.

The Druids invented lens flare?
The Druids invented lens flare?

Nimoy, in the studio, claims that Stonehenge is a 'classic mystery' which I guess it is. He divides the mystery into two questions: who built it and why? Both good questions. Nimoy claims that the 'why' part of the question is 'so simple it was overlooked for centuries'. I feel a little let down, now. It's just going to be that it's a calendar, isn't it? I guess that was a new and exciting idea in the mid-70s, so I can't fault the In Search Of… people for making a big deal about it. Even so, it's a bit of a letdown. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E24: The Magic of Stonehenge"

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