Hello again, my tens of listeners! My life's taken a busy turn of late and so my In Search Of updates have been a little sporadic. But they're back, with a new, shorter format.
Yay and so on.
I've been looking forward to this one. It's one of the episodes that I remember most strongly from when I watched this show as a kid. At the time, like a lot of Australian youngsters, I spent a great deal of time at the beach. Unlike the shows about Bigfoot or hurricanes, the idea that tsunami could get me seemed real. I actually remember completing a sandcastle one time and looking nervously out to sea, wondering if an underwater earthquake might mess it up. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S04E01 Tidal Waves"
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.
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”…
When I first decided to review these shows, I began rewatching them for the first time in years. I remembered some of the themes – cryptozoology, disaster porn, missing person, sensationalised anthropology. But I completely forgot the whole Biblical archaeology theme that runs through the show. Why? Well for a start, it's boring. Like, massively, massively boring. Even the dull ghost stories are better than this.
And we open on… Oh God. This looks like it's going to be a bad one.
Some women are manipulating the body of a small child. Nimoy claims this is a 'controversial' new approach to communicating with children suffering from brain damage. He also compares it to medaeval torture. I don't know if this is a legit approach but even if it is, I'm not sure I want to watch.
Anyway, apparently we're talking about studies to help people with brain damage, and naturally those of us without brain damage are wondering if we can swipe that research to benefit ourselves. No, no. Thank us later.
This is followed by some really nice footage of animals – eagles and dogs mostly. They guys have senses that are better than ours, so what's up with our brain? I mean, we a have better sense of smell than eagles do and better eyesight than dogs so… Did I just answer the question? ...continue reading "In Search Of… S03E22 Brain Power"
"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.
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?
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)"