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.

Leonard Nimoy (l) and the Hope Diamond (r).

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"

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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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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.

Huh.

Pictured: human joy

Okay, this episode will not be fun. Also, my usual way of dealing with the less fun episodes with streams of jokes really won't be appropriate. Sorry. ...continue reading "In Search Of…. S03E18: The Angel of Death"

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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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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?

Sean Bean as Inspector Marlott

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)"

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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!

A Siamese Fighting Fish, In Search Of S03e15 Animal ESP
The newest member of the X-Men: Siamese Fighting Fish

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"

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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.

In Search Of s03e14 Dreams and Nightmares

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"

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Jodie Whittaker the 13th DoctorThere's a tradition we have every few years where everyone takes a look at the highest profile performers in the UK and wonders which of them will be the new Dr Who. This is immediately followed by the BBC picking someone that is not one of the highest profile performers in the UK for the role.

But hey, it works. Take 1974. Tom Baker? The guy

who was the baddy in that one Ray Harryhausen film? Seriously?

And yet...

I bring this up because my reaction on seeing Jodie Whittaker's name was, who? The protagonist from Attack the Block who isn't Finn? Really?

And yet... ...continue reading "Happy 13th! Jodie Whittaker"

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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.

Pictured: a guy who looks nothing like Conan Doyle pretending to be Conan Doyle. Not pictured: imaginary fairies.

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?'

Spoiler: it was Doyle. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E12 Sherlock Holmes"

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We open on a bunch of Native Americans. Okay, didn't see that coming. I thought 'Indian Astronomy' as in 'Astronomy from India'. My bad. I don't know if these are Native Americans or 'Native Americans' but they do a dance in some long grass. Nimoy tells us that they're here to watch the sky, which is odd given that it's broad daylight and it's overcast. One of the 'Native' men is identified as a Priest of the Sun. A native woman goes down on her knees. The 'priest' produces a knife…

I am so looking this up.

And then we're looking at Native American mounds, ad break.

An apprentice astronomer is given the task of locating the sun.

We're back. Reenactment time! A guy in animal skins is starting a fire with a flint. Nimoy tells us that we're in Southern Illinois. The reenactor walks out of a hut, plants maize and hunts with a bow while the narration talks up the connection of the people to nature and the universe. Native American documentary boilerplate, basically. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E11 Indian Astronomers"

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