Leonard Nimoy may best be remembered as Mr. Spock from Star Trek, but he also spent six seasons exploring the unexplained in the classic 70’s television series “In Search of…”. The show was recently released on DVD, and TrekMovie brings you a look at the series, it’s DVD release, and offers you a chance to win a complete collection of the paranormal classic. Our review and details on our contest follow the cut.
Leonard Nimoy is In Search of…
Back in the early 1990’s, I would spend the better part of my after-school time watching television instead of doing my homework. One show that featured prominently in my viewing habits was the classic Lenoard Nimoy series “In Search of…”. The series has been off the air now since 2002, but every last episode – including the precursor and successor series are now available on DVD in a massive boxed set from Visual Entertainment.
Listing for $149.99, you get an impressive box filled with twenty-one disks, presenting all 144 episodes hosted by Leonard Nimoy, as well as the Rod Serling narrated “In Search of Ancient Astronauts” and “In Search of Ancient Mysteries”. Also included is the short-lived 2002 SciFi Channel revival hosted by Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files, Stargate:Atlantis, Sons of Anarchy).
Rod Serling’s voice and science fiction pedigree made him a perfect choice for Alan Landsburg when he adapted Erich von Däniken’s controversial bestseller “Chariot of the Gods?”. Serling serves up a pitch-perfect voiceover that really makes for an entertaining exposition of claims of ancient alien visitations on earth. While the scientific claims behind many of the program’s claims are loose at best, the program remained highly entertaining – if for no other reason than its exploration of early human mythology and culture. The success of this program lead to a second Serling-voiced special, which is also included in the DVD set. A third program, not bearing the “In Search of…” moniker, is not included. Serling was the first choice to host the series version of the program, but his untimely death in June 1975 left a gap that demanded an iconic presence. Enter Leonard Nimoy.
While the iconic Mr. Spock would never speculate on much of anything, the six seasons of “In Search of…” running from 1976 to 1982 were filled with speculative research, science, and mythological content. The series’ weekly introduction included the following memorable narration:
“This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer’s purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.”
Plants responding to people’s thoughts? Ancient Phoenicians in New Hampshire? Two-thousand year old computer parts? Yes, “In Search of…” covered such topics, and while the premises were, in many ways, fantastical, Nimoy’s distinctive voice made everything seem at least plausible.
To be sure, the freaky and paranormal weren’t the only topics covered by this series. Segments on the famous hijacker D.B. Cooper, Grand Duchess Anastasia, Amelia Earhart, and the Titanic are among the lingering mysteries the series examined.
Also examined are cults and other religious / spiritual phenomenon, including the Jim Jones cult, reincarnation, Voodoo, Noah’s Flood, and the Garden of Eden.
Each episode featured somewhat stylistically produced re-enactments of historical (or supposedly historical) events, accompanied by a distinctive score and Leonard Nimoy’s excellent voice work.
When the SciFi Channel chose to revive the series in 2002, a paranormal revival of sorts was beginning to hit the television. The network already had John Edward’s program “Crossing Over” on the schedule, so “In Search of…” seems like it should have been a natural fit. Except that it wasn’t.
Where the Nimoy version of “In Search of…” felt like the natural evolution of the previous Serling specials, the Pileggi-hosted revival felt like any of a host of programs on the air, cramming brief segments into an allotted time slot, and never really doing justice to the subject matter. Instead of spending a half-hour on a single topic, the revival felt disjointed, with a single episode covering such disparate topics as hauntings, stigmata, and zombies in a single outing. Nothing of the feel of either predecessor survived in SciFi’s version, which – mercifully – lasted just eight episodes.
The episodes are presented as they originally aired, and, in what is essentially their original audio and visual quality. The Serling and Nimoy episodes are of somewhat lower visual quality than the Pileggi episodes, which were shot with better video equipment. However, the visual quality of 1970’s filming techniques is one of the things that always made “In Search of…” an endearing program. Exotic locales glimpsed from airplanes and back roads… lost colonies… the look of the show gave them all a historical feeling, and yet one that drew you into the subject in a way that looking at a book rarely did.
To be certain, the wide range of topics covered in the run of “In Search of…” can be mind boggling, but even if the passage of time has solved some of the mysteries explored by the show, the DVD set still stands as an entertaining blast from the past that would well-grace the shelves of any fan of the paranormal, the unexplained, or of Leonard Nimoy.
Visual Entertainment provided a sampler for this review.
TrekMovie.com and Visual Entertainment want to share the DVD nostalgia that is “In Search of…” with you. Simply share a comment below regarding your favorite recollection from the Leonard Nimoy era of “In Search of…” and you’re registered to win. The contest ends Sunday, January 27, and a winner will be selected on Monday, January 28.
UPDATE: Winner Chosen for “In Search of…” Box Set Contest!
Congratulations to the first place winner of our ISO DVD contest. Andrew W. of Phoenix, Arizona captured the set with his comment:
In Search Of… surely helped make me the “Geek” that I am today. My friends and I looked forward to seeing it each week and being introduced to the bizarre and mysterious in our world. For a youngster, this fueled the heck out of our imagination.
But perhaps the most enduring memory from then is that of sitting around a dinner table with my friends eating spaghetti and meatballs while we hummed the iconic theme to he show and impersonated Nimoy’s deep, deep voice, inventing our own episodes. I remember saying “In Search Of…Nick’s brain” as I held up a fork with a meatball on it.
It’d be cool to see those episodes again. Maybe I’d even invite the old gang to watch and make a dinner party out of it (you can guess the menu).
Andrew has promised to send along photos if he can get that dinner party arranged… and here’s hoping that we’ll finally locate Nick’s brain.
But wait, there’s more! Visual Entertainment was so excited about all of your enthusiasm for “In Search of…” that they’ve asked us to pick a SECOND winner for another box set giveaway! Congratulations to Starfleetmom, the second place winner of our ISO DVD contest who won us over when she said:
I don’t think I ever saw it, so I don’t have a favorite recollection. Perhaps that’s why I should win! I need to see it!
Well, you don’t have an excuse any more! We look forward to hearing what your NEW favorite moment is from “In Search of…”!