Who needs Fox Mulder and Dana Scully when you have Leonard Nimoy? From 1976 to 1982, Nimoy hosted
Channel 9 showed re-runs of this show when I was a kid, and I was riveted. “In Search Of” tackled freaky deaky stuff like UFO’s, Nostradamus, the Bermuda Triangle and Bigfoot, but that was just the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg, incidentally, hovering directly over the remnants of the lost city of Atlantis (season one, episode four).
Renaissance Man Leonard Simon Nimoy gave the show the aura of gravity it deserved.
(I don’t throw the R-word around lightly: most of you probably think of Nimoy as Mr. Spock, but did you know that his photography has been shown in galleries and that he rebuilt a camera at the age of 13? Are you familiar with his book of poetry, “A Lifetime Of Love: Poems On The Passages Of Life?” (average customer rating on Amazon: 5 stars). Have you heard him belt out Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” or “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” on his mind bending album “Two Sides Of Leonard Nimoy?”
And when he wasn’t singing, acting, rhapsodizing or clicking away with his rebuilt camera, Nimoy made time to write and star in a one man play “Vincent,” about Van Gogh).
Point is, if Nimoy says something might be true, well, then that’s as good as gold for me.
(gold, by the way, was the subject of an episode in season two: The Lost Dutchman Mine – an investigation into why hundreds of gold hunters died searching for a lost treasure ever since a Dutch prospector wandered out of Arizona’s Superstition Mountains in the 1860’s.)
The show appealed to conspiracy buffs, home grown historians, new age astrology types, and everybody else inclined to believe in the paranormal, which included, by my estimate, 89% of the population. This was, after all, the 1970’s.
Some of the burning questions tackled by “In Search Of”:
Was the Oracle Chamber, which lies beneath New Hampshire’s Mystery Hill, built by ancient Phoenicians who traveled to the continent thousands of years ago? (I didn’t see that episode, but I’m guessing… yes?)
The Human Aura – a look at the multi-colored rays we transmit, which seem to change with our moods.
I’d like to think I transmit a shade of deep purple. It’s my favorite color. I caught hell for it as a kid with the bullies in school. But as my mother always told me “Be proud, Chato. Purple is regal, the color of kings.” Hmm, yeah, the color of kings. I like that. But when I gently explained to the bullies that they were incorrect, that I was actually not a faggot – and merely had aristocratic taste – they explained to me why a sock in the stomach was the only reasonable response to my comment. In the end, I doubled over, and we agreed to disagree.
Learning ESP – do the powers of extrasensory perception really exist, and can they be taught?
(not only can ESP be taught, but I believe the Learning Annex offers a Master’s Degree in it).
Firewalkers – how do people walk on red hot coals without being burned? Right. How the hell do they do that?
The Ogopogo Monster – thousands of people in western Canada claimed to have seen this large beast, similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster.
Somebody at Canada’s tourism board needs to get his or her ass fired quick – why have I not heard of this until now? This is tourism gold!
And speaking of missed tourism opportunities, how about
The Great Lakes Triangle – investigates efforts by scientists and psychics to discover the mysterious forces around the Great Lakes that have caused more air and sea disasters than the Bermuda Triangle. Who knew Michigan was so cool?
Often the show was prescient:
Secrets of Life – explores the possibility that human life can be created in laboratories engaged in DNA research. I live in the bay area. You can’t throw a rock in this town today without hitting a DNA lab.
Super Children – investigates scientific efforts to produce a generation of child prodigies: are they born or made? I understand Amy Chua may have an opinion on this subject.
At the very least the show was timely:
Dangerous Volcanoes – scientists wonder whether California’s Mount Shasta, Washington’s Mount St. Helens, and other American volcanoes will soon erupt again. Originally aired on November 1, 1980. Mount St. Helens erupted five months earlier, on May 18, 1980.
Admittedly, some episodes were a little obvious:
Great Lovers – a look at some of history’s famous lovers. What drove certain men to pursue sensual pleasure above all else? (I believe the answer is their penises). A distinguished older gentleman at the soup kitchen where I work recently explained to me that all men suffer from a shortage of blood in their bodies. “There is only enough for either the brain or the penis,” he explained, “but not both.”
And some episodes got it exactly backwards:
The Coming Ice Age – an inquiry into whether the dramatic weather changes in America’s northern states mean than a new ice age is approaching. Maybe. Maybe after all the icebergs finish melting, the earth gets flooded over, and then, in 10,000 years, a comet smashes into us, sends a giant dust cloud into the air, blocks out the sun and causes Lake Earth to re-freeze.
But whatever else it did, the show never bored me.
“In Search Of” taught me half-truths and garbled factoids about killer bees, Amelia Earhart, Nazi plunder, Easter Island, voo doo, pyramid secrets, children raised by animals (Ms. Chua?), shark worshippers, Indian astronomers, tidal waves, acupuncture, the Hindenburg, the shroud of Turin, biofeedback, D.B. Cooper, and something called the Siberian Fireball (a supposed A-bomb set off in 1908, 37 years before Hiroshima and Nagasaki). And The Lost Colony of Roanoke. And hurricanes. And hypnosis. And Jack the Ripper.
And are any TV execs out there reading this? Somebody, please, a reboot?