We open on the San Andreas Fault, so full marks there. Spooky music and Nimoy talking in urgent tones. Shots of buildings and surveyors. When will the next great earthquake strike.
Yay! Disaster porn! My third favourite type of porn, after foodporn and gifs of industrial lathes.
Anyway, shots of beaches, Golden Gate Bridge, deserts, freeways. Is this California? Nimoy says 'yes'. Having moved from his 'earthquakes are going to kill us all' urgency, he settles gently into a sonorous explanation of fault lines. It's lovely and the shots of the Fault itself. I've heard a lot about the effects of the Fault, but I have to admit I had no idea what the Fault itself actually looked like until now -- like a seam where the Earth was sewn shut or something. ...continue reading "In Search Of…s04e14 The San Andreas Fault"
We open on a) music with a driving rhythm and b) frikkin' sharks. Nimoy gives a super buildup to the great white sharks, and sharks don't even need a buildup. It's very cool. The visuals are a little ropey by today's standards, but not bad for its time.
Basically, this episode is a documentary on Sharks, sandwiched between the episode on Australian flying saucers and the episode on the lost colony of Roanoke. A lot of it is shot in Western Australia, making me wonder if the producers were trying to get their money's worth when they sent a crew to Australia for the UFO episode. ...continue reading "In Search Of…S04E04 Immortal Sharks"
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"
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"
Cold open on a nuclear explosion. Very well, 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? Maybe 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"
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.
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 it is, 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 had some great researchers and access to substantial film archives. The episodes about hurricanes and earthquakes were pretty impressive, so how does this episode on Tornadoes stack up?
Open on shifting clouds. Leonard Nimoy, with the same gravity as if he was delivering the prologue to Henry V, explains how cold air meets warm air. 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.
We open on footage of people jogging. How to achieve immortality 1970s style! Love it! Nimoy gives speech about the inevitability of death. "Most of us will live for a billion heartbeats," he says, which is an interesting way of looking at it. He goes on to say that death is less inevitable than it used to be which… look, things are inevitable or they aren't. It's not a sliding scale.
The Secrets of Life represents the point where I owe In Search Of… an apology.
In the earlier episodes in the series, the show was very hasty to proclaim some new discovery imminent. Atlantis was just about to be found, aliens were just about to be proved, ESP was on the verge of acceptance by the scientific community, and yet here we are forty years later with all of those things still considered eccentric fringe ideas.