Wednesday, January 7, 2015

BAB Firsts: Weird Wednesdays: "In Search Of"


This post was originally published on July 22 2009

Welcome to a regular feature of Bronze Age Babies: Weird Wednesdays, where we look back fondly on books, TV shows, films, and reportedly real incidents connected with the paranormal. Growing up in the 1970s, I was acutely aware of a whole lot of weirdness out there: it seemed like we got reports of UFO sightings almost weekly, and in my home state of California, sightings of the mysterious Bigfoot were also frequent. Supposed psychics like Uri Geller were making appearances on all the talk shows of the day, and books like “Chariots of the Gods” brought pseudo-scientific theories to mass audiences. Television capitalized on the publics' interest with many shows that featured paranormal subject matter.

One of the most interesting TV shows to deal with the paranormal was “In Search Of”, a documentary series hosted by Leonard Nimoy (yes, Star Trek's Mr. Spock). The series premiered in 1976 and covered a wide variety of subjects: UFOs, witchcraft, lost civilizations, Bigfoot – you name it, there was an episode about it! With Nimoy as our guide, we viewers were whisked off into an unseen and sometimes frightening world. What made it all the more terrifying was the creepy music played on the show! This was not a show to be watched when one was alone in the house!

In general, the subject matter was handled in a serious manner. Eyewitnesses and experts were interviewed for each episode. The show sometimes used “recreations” of incidents, which often added some punch, and frequently left this young viewer having trouble falling asleep at night!

This show was one of my first introductions to the wacky world of the paranormal. The variety of topics covered had me going back to the library week after week, trying to dig up any information I could on things like Atlantis, Jack the Ripper, or Easter Island. “In Search Of” managed to both entertain and encourage further thought. Plus, it was flat out scary! For a preteen, it was a pretty good way to start my Saturday night – with the Love Boat and Fantasy Island to follow!

Unfortunately, the show is not currently available on DVD. To get your ISO fix, you’ll have to head over to YouTube.




20 comments:

Doug said...

Hey,I just read this, not a week ago: In an article about some British former-child actor coming forward to say he sired Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, who was quoted as the man who advised that this fellow was telling the truth but Uri Geller?! And he was tagged in the story as a friend and confidant of the King of Pop! So ol' Uri is alive and well and telling people what they should do about their paternity!!

Edo Bosnar said...

Another "spelunking" comment - damn I missed a lot of good stuff before I discovered this blog!
Anyway, just had to say that I loved this show as a kid, and yes, it often freaked me out as well. Despite the fact that much of the stuff featured was pseudo-scientific hoo-hah, you made a good point about it encouraging further thought and further reading (often, enough that you eventually realized there's no substance to UFO or bigfoot sightings, etc.)

Doug said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa...

What do you mean there's nothing to Bigfoot sightings? :)

You are certainly wiling away your Sunday, Edo!

Thanks!

Doug

Humanbelly said...

The show itself was an ITV production, wasn't it? It seems like it rarely resided in any fixed time-block, so I know we only caught it sporadically at my house.

Ohhhhhh, my buddies and I surrendered completely to every single one of those Bigfoot/Ancient Astronauts/Atlantis/Loch Ness-type hoaxes and pseudo-scientific fads. This was exacerbated by the fact that my Mom was (hoo-boy, and still is--) pretty much 100% gull/0% skeptic, so she would just feed us all of these things and back them up in her best "True Ghost Story and The Truth is Out There" manner. Sheesh-- there was even talk of a "legendary" Bigfoot-type creature in our little, heavily agricultural SW corner of Michigan. And that our local lake, of course, had it's own ancient creature residing in it.

I guess the credibility alarms went off for me early on with all of the discussion of the "mysterious" Nazca Line geoglyphs in Peru. That they couldn't possibly have been created without the aid of a hovering aircraft or spaceship, etc, etc-- and that it was "proof" of extraterrestrial intervention. End of discussion. And, even as a fairly bright but non-technical 12-year-old, my immediate thought was that ANYBODY with two legs, a BUNCH of rope (or string or twine or vines) and maybe some stakes could make those glyphs all by themselves as long as they thought through the process. And it also turns out that the glyphs are indeed all visible from various surrounding foothills and such-- never mentioned in those earlier discussions, though.

Boy, did that make me mad. An early lesson in the duplicity of then-embryonic pop infotainment.

Boy, Leonard Nimoy does have a great, great voice, though, doesn't he? As with Orson Wells, attempts at impersonation just never quite hit the mark, 'cause that vocal instrument is in a rich, lovely league of it's own. . .

HB

The Prowler said...

When I first started working nights, Larry King was still ruling the overnight. When he left for TV's greener pastures, Art Bell's Coast to Coast became my can't miss late night listening. The Face on Mars, Bigfoot, Area 51, UFOs, they were all there. And to put the cherry on top of today's post; Unsolved Mysteries is on my TV!!! Right now!!! Maybe not when you read this, unless you're reading this right now! But you know. Whatever.

(What do say, Joel? I'll be your girlfriend, no charge).

Colin Jones said...

I clicked on that YouTube link and my laptop screen went totally white then totally black and the computer shut down which was all rather alarming - everything's back to normal now but I've had problems with BAB's YouTube links before though nothing quite like that. I think I'll have to give the YouTube links a miss from now on.

Anonymous said...

One episode I remember was "In Search of Spirit Voices." Some 'researchers' would set up recording equipment in a cemetery at night and listen to it the next day. It was pretty funny watching them listen to the tapes and identify random background noises as voices giving cryptic messages for the living.

Alan

david_b said...

In retrospect, it was a completely logical progression for Nimoy's talents in the '70s, paving the way for countless narrated syndicated shows like this for the next few decades, well in to all the obsure shows you now see on Discovery, TLC, you name it.

It could legitimately be considered the 'grandfather' of most of these current shows, which as we've all seen, under the right 'voice' narration are quite palatable even if the subject matter presented is not.

And for all us Trekkers, wasn't it awesome to see Nimoy on a new show during our heyday of pre-TMP Trek rerun-infested viewing habits, AMT models, Trek Mego's, you name it...?

Fairly different approach, but I consider ISO providing ample confidence and viability to Carl Sagan's later COSMOS series, being a viewer-friendly host for the television masses to explore the mysteries of the physics and the Universe.

To that end, ISO was wonderfully effective.

J.A. Morris said...

It's funny how huge Bigfoot, Nessie and the Abominable Snowman were in the 70s. I bought into all that stuff for a while when I was a kid.

I wasn't a regular viewer of 'In Search Of', but on a more scientific note, the show was my introduction to "Lucy", the prehistoric hominin:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_%28Australopithecus%29

dbutler16 said...

I used to love that show! I can't believe it's not available on DVD, but then again, Thundarr the Barbarian only became available on DVD a couple of years ago.
Anyway, I don't know how much I really bought into a lot of this stuff, but it is fun to believe in the paranormal, even if for only an hour a week.

Karen said...

I looked last night (as I had to repair the video link) and since that post was made in 2009, In Search Of has been released on DVD (no blu ray!), and you can find it on Amazon. I had thought about getting it...it's relatively cheap, $42. But then again, whole episodes are on YouTube (although the quality isn't great). But I find that most of the TV DVDs I have bought in the past just sit on the shelf, as I never seem to find the time to watch them! Still, I have very fond memories of In Search Of.

Doug said...

How about this? The life of this post and its comments is such that I've used three different mugshots! Of course, david b can give us that look in a single day...

Hey, after leaving your thoughts here, I want you to head over to Longbox Graveyard, where Paul O'Connor has some really interesting thoughts for "collectors of a certain age" -- namely, us. I really enjoyed reading the essay he has posted. Hope you do, too.

Snow day in these parts today due to -35 wind chills. Don't want those little urchins standing at the bus stop, you know!

Doug

Garett said...

I really liked In Search Of, and at the time wondered what was true and what wasn't. Fuels the imagination! I don't know if the show would have the same mystique now to rewatch it. Ancient Aliens on the History channel now has some of that same imaginative speculation.

david_b said...

Hey, so I'm a 'restless soul'.., what can I say?

(Besides, a little Batgirl is good for the soul.) :)

Back to the Von Daniken pontifications.., a lot of folks tried to get on that bandwagon. Classic Galactica's premise had it all over the place, partially to distance itself (and legalities) away from SW (apparently not sufficiently enough..).

I recall Harlan Ellison being steamed when his original treatment for Trek:TMP's script, which dealt with a 'pre-human civilization', was asked to include the Mayan civilization into his story by movie executives, all excited by 'Chariots of the Gods'.

The execs, of course, could not comprehend that Mayans did not exist at the dawn of time.

dbutler16 said...

Speaking of cool things done by ex-Star Trekkers, how about TJ Hooker?

Humanbelly said...

Ref'ing DaveB's comment-- How do movie execs manage to become movie execs, exactly? As a group, they seem to have collectively failed all of their elementary school (or remedial) science, history, literature, and social studies classes. I mean, visual time-lines? Like we had in 2nd grade? Can anything be clearer than those were? And yet. . . we perpetually get cavemen fightin' dinosaurs w/ clubs. . .

And dbutler-- I didn't watch TJ HOOKER often, but I definitely remember it as being a serviceable and engaging cop show, w/ Shatner as the aging veteran officer. His occasional car-hood slide during a chase sequence may have been the only thing that cause a bit of a cringe, as it came across as maybe being actor-initiated vanity as opposed to a directorial choice. . .

HB (always there for the tangents. . . )

Humanbelly said...

Another thought on the von Daniken books and their ilk--

About three of them came out in pretty rapid succession after Chariots of the Gods, and what was rather amusing was how absolutely snarky the different camps got about each other, and it would be right there in the books. And that they would all lay claim to the same archeological "proof" in supporting their competing claims of origination. Easter Island in particular was latched onto by the Ancient Astronaut folks, as well as the Ancient Atlantis civilization folks, who (make no mistake) are a completely different camp from the Ancient Lemuria folks (who I believe were supposed to be completely pre-human-- thus the weird heads). Man, and there was something else-- inter-dimensional beings whom we observe as "angels", or something? But each one of them would point out each other's utter stupidity while advancing their own equally inane theories. . .

HB

Humanbelly said...

And, wow, hope I'm not just stomping heartlessly all over anyone's belief system here, or anything. Kind of getting into dangerous territory, eh?

HB (yet again)

The Prowler said...

Wow, reading HB's comments is like listening to Open Line on Coast To Coast. Throw in a hollow Earth and you've got a full four hours.

And I do remember listening to the "ghost tape" episodes where they would play the recordings made in cemeteries and old houses.

Karen: Tangent Time! Tangent Time!
When I first got my iPod, I was so very happy putting my music on. My oldest walked through and said: You know, Dad, you can watch videos on that. I was like "Whaaat?" Turned out that on some of the DVDs we had there was a code you could enter at iTunes and it would download a digital copy. I was happy and sad. What about all the DVDs we had that didn't have a code or the ones I made myself or home videos and stuff. Turned out there were products you could buy that would convert your videos into mp4 format for your iPod and Pads and Phones and such. Now I carry around a couple of episodes of shows I like, Psych, Remington Steele, MacGuyver, Stargate. Whenever I find myself waiting for something or someone, I just pull out the old Pod and wile away the hours. There's a product I'm very happy with and if you're interested in some recommendations, I could shoot you an email......


(What's your rush, dollbody? What do you say we slip in the back seat, and make a man out of me?

What do you say I smack you around for a while?

Can't we do both).

Humanbelly said...

Oy, Prowl-- I think you've got me pegged, yeah.

Just a-doin' my part to emphasize the "Weird" in Weird Wednesday, don'tcha know!

HB (Hmm-- known affectionately as "Weird Tom" by my sister-room during my freshman year of college. . . )

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