Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In Search Of ... In Search Of

I lied!  I lied!

Here’s one more (final) piece on Leonard Nimoy: how I absolutely loved his late-70s show In Search Of.  So much so that I still watch episodes on youtube to this day.  Here are two nostalgic posts I did on the show, the first three years ago and the latter last summer:

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Thinking about the self-inflicted demise of The History Channel (a Swamp People marathon tonight. Really? On the History Channel?), my mind wandered to that most awesomest of shows from my youth: In Search Of.

I’ve spoken about it often here at the Hopper. Next to the original Battlestar Galactica series, it was probably the only thing I regularly watched on night-time teevee at that age. True, when slightly younger, me and the family would watch Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Chico and the Man, and, of course, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, on Sunday nights. Around age eleven, I suddenly became too cool for such fare. But not for In Search Of.

In fact, In Search Of was downright creepy. Also, downright awesome, if you forgive the repetition. That opening synthesizer and wah-wah theme song; the psychedelic, moody, oppressive background music; Leonard Nimoy and everything about him – voice, moustache and/or goatee, those loud 70s suits and fat ties; and best of all, the topics. The paranormal, extranormal, abnormal, anti-normal. Strange sightings, cryptids, histories mysteries, edge-of-science-stuff, vanishings, legends true, false, and middling. Every week I looked forward with goosebumped anticipation. Thank God my dad was into this, too (at least, I guess; I don’t think I had the foresight to plan out these viewings).

Each 22-minute episode focused on a single, sole topic aimed directly at the imagination of eleven-year-old boys all across America. Occasionally the show veered into the hokey, to small degrees, but it always maintained a somewhat objective scientific mien. That, coupled with the dignity Spock brought and exuded with his superhuman vocal chords, gave the show a seriousness that you just couldn’t shake. Many episodes focused on respectable “mysteries” – mysteries of literature, historical events, people and peoples of ages past.

So, scanning my memories, I tasked myself to come up with a top-ten of greatest In Search Of episodes. Now, we all know memories are leaky things, quite malleable and often possessing agendae of their own. If I err somehow, well, take it in the spirit that it’s offered: Creepy Nimoy goodness!

10. The Dogon tribe

An African tribe that somehow knows of the existence of Sirius and its smaller stellar companion – invisible to the naked eye. Though I didn’t grasp the significance back then, I somehow have never forgotten this episode.

9. Jack the Ripper

My first encounter with this serial psycho from 1880s England. The sheer violence shocked me, truth be told, I, who loved swords and sorcery and science fiction mayhem at this point. I still can’t get interested in this historical mystery due to the gore factor.

8. The Shroud of Turin

Hey, I’m currently reading a book about this! Again, my first encounter with a historical mystery. Never completely escaped my mind. Well, it did for a few decades, but lately I’ve been thinking about it!

7. Michael Rockefeller

Okay, I don’t remember seeing this as a kid. Saw it in a rerun about ten years ago, and this truly never really left my mind. Youngling of the beyond-wealthy and uber-powerful clan, he seemingly chucked all that wealth and power … to study primitive cultures as an anthropologist. However, hubris must be passed along genetically, as he ran afoul of a particularly nasty tribe (allegedly) and – disappeared without a trace. What happened to him?

6. The Amityville Horror

Vaguely remember this, and rewatched it on youtube around Halloween (you can see most In Search Of episodes on youtube). Man, was I into this back around 78 or 79. Scary stuff. Drew me like a moth to flame.

5. The Oak Island Money Pit

Buried treasure. Just beyond your grasp. Many tried to dig it up. All failed. Some died. Every ten feet down, a sign. An elaborate trap? Otherworldly engineering? Who knows? Something I’d love to. Learn more. About.

4. Amelia Earhart

In a similar vibe with Michael Rockefeller, these types of mysterious vanishings toy with my obsession buttons. Many years later I skimmed through a book about her. Lots of alternate theories of what happened to her (captured by Japs, starved on a distant island, etc), but I think she and her co-pilot just plain veered off course and crashed into the ocean. I don’t want to think of what happened after that.

3. Ogo-Pogo

A sea serpent, or rather, a lake monster like the Loch Ness critter. I recall some footage from the episode. Interesting, intriguing. What caught me most, though, was the name of the dang monster. It’s gotta be of Indian derivation, but there’s a spookiness in a million-year-old modern brachiosaur named Ogo-Pogo.

2. Bigfoot!

As every eleven-year-old boy was in the late 70s, I was completely enamored by Bigfoot. Read tons of books on the cryptid, watched anything and everything I could on the subject. This episode held my first viewing of the Gimlin-Patterson film footage, of which I have never made up my mind. I think I’m of the opinion that there’s a fifty-percent chance the creature exists. Still, though, the possibilities are so intriguing I am completely amazed and dumbfounded a decent horror movie has never been made about the beast. Aside from The Legend of Boggy Creek, of course.

1. UFO abductees

This was before the whole abduction phenomenon began in the mid-80s. So I was treated to learned about Travis Walton primarily. Some other stuff, too, but I can’t quite remember what exactly. However, I do know that this was the very first episode of In Search Of that I ever watched! And I was hooked, baby, hooked!

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One of my favorite childhood memories was watching the Leonard Nimoy-narrated In Search Of … Each week Mr. Nimoy would go in search of something cryptic, paranormal, historically mysterious, etc.  My favorite shows were on UFOs and giant hairy hominids, my favorite subjects as a ten-year-old.  I’ve written about the show elsewhere on the blog, most notably here.

The show ran from April of 1977 until March of 82, but for me it was the second and third seasons that I watched religiously.  A gap of thirty years followed and I rediscovered the shows on youtube.  (Yes, one of the cable channels played them in the early 2000s, and I watched a handful during a stretch of unemployment.)  Now, when I suffer insomnia or have to pay bills and balance the family checkbook, I often have Leonard’s soothingly sonorous and nicotinous narrations exploring the esoteric with me on the Dell flatscreen.

Anyway, a few days ago I was surfing the web on the iPad and came across the In Search Of page on the IMDB.  I like the IMDB for the bulletin boards – you can read up a lot of interesting facts and opinions on films and shows you really love, as well as a lot of garbage.  You have to be discriminating, as in all things Wide World Web.  So I scanned the bulletin boards for In Search Of and came across a great question: what would be some topics that the show should’ve done but didn’t?  “Lost” episodes, in other words.

A lot of people contributed interesting ideas.  Not all I’d agree with, but a good, thorough list that seemed to be pretty much comprehensive.  At least, I couldn’t think of anything to add to it off the top of my head.  So here are the “lost” episodes I found most interesting, and in my fanboy head I can even hear Leonard Nimoy already exploring the mysteries that are the


The Ark of the Covenant

Secret Societies

Spontaneous Human Combustion

The Chupacabra


The Jersey Devil

The Attempted Assassination of John Paul II

Custer’s Last Stand

The RFK Assassination

The Philadelphia Experiment

Ambrose Bierce

The Knights Templar

The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr

Billy the Kid

Fakirs from India

Pharaoh of the Exodus

The Great Chicago Fire

The Interrupted Journey of Betty and Barney Hill

The Black Plague


The Eruption of Mount Saint Helens

The Last Days of Elvis Presley

Spring-Heeled Jack

Nicola Tesla

Charles Fort

The Lost City of Z

The Disappearance of Judge Crater

The Kecksburg UFO Incident

The Flatwoods Monster

The Book of Revelation

Now some topics, such as the last one, could not be adequately explored in a 22-minute format.  Others, such as the penultimate one, might not be meaty enough to fill 22 minutes.  But, man, I would watch an In Search Of episode of each and every one.  If nothing else but for the eerie moog synthesizer soundtrack!

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Leonard Nimoy, R.I.P.


Derek said...

This is a great post! Just spent my lunch hour Googling some of these I have never heard of!

LE said...

Thanks for the compliment, glad you enjoyed it. If they ever remaster all 150+ episodes, I'm buying it!