Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Search Of...

In 1976, a pioneering television program for its day debuted. It was called in Search of, a half-hour documentary of sorts that investigated everything from “lost civilizations” to “extraterrestrials”; “myths and monsters” to “missing persons”; “magic and witchcraft” to “strange phenomena.” Hosted by none other than Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy, who did a splendid job at conveying a sense of the mysterious, sometimes even unsettling so, the show boldly went where no TV show had gone before.

After watching in Search of Bigfoot, there was no chance in hell I was ever going hiking or camping in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. And upon seeing in Search of the Bermuda Triangle, forget about me ever flying over, or sailing through, this voracious and unforgiving expanse of ocean brine. Happily, the Bermuda Triangle, aka the Devil’s Triangle, appears to have been consigned to the Much Ado About Nothing file, and is no longer considered an unsolved mystery. And Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, too, may not exist at all, the latter perhaps being nothing more than an over-sized eel, a big fish, which stuck its over-sized cranium above the lake's surface every now and then, created a few big waves, and frightened a lot of people in the process. With snowballing technology and countless in-depth tools of study at our disposal, so many of these esteemed monsters of the past, as well as purported extraterrestrial visitations, have been put to bed for good. It's actually kind of sad.

Despite the in Search of team of “scientists, researchers, and a group of highly trained technicians” warning us of a possible Ice Age in the offing—this on the heels of the brutal Buffalo, New York winter of 1976-77 and some 200 inches of snow—it was well-done television and indisputably a TV trailblazer, supplying us with ample food for thought on a broad range of diverse topics from Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance to the legend of Dracula; from poltergeists to the efficacy of ESP. This show was in fact in the vanguard of the New Age.

I think the in Search of opening theme’s disclaimer—and what a resonant and memorable one it is—nicely summed things up with: “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.” Theory and conjecture are always welcome and should be encouraged, but in the end we must defer to hard facts, hard as that sometimes is.

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