Sunday, August 12, 2012

Best of Paranormal TV: In Search Of . . .

One of the longest running paranormal  based series, In Search Of . . . explores both the unexplained and the mysterious. Unlike the previous television show from the previous post, this one researches history, science, and much more. It started out as hour long specials narrated by Rod Sterling. When it switched to a series format, Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame took over after Sterling's death. The show was cut back to a half hour time slot. Despite the shortening of the time, it lasted six long seasons from 1976 to 1982. There was a very short revival in 2002 with Mitch Pileggi of The X-Files fame that covered some of the same territory. All later paranormal investigation shows owe a debt to the original In Search Of . . . because a lot of the same format continued in other investigative broadcasts.

The beginning credits were the same on each episode, warning, "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." In this way the presentation wouldn't be seen as absolute and scientific fact. Viewers could make up their own minds how truthful and accurate each mystery might be to reality.

Some of the show was recreations, but it had a more traditional investigative  platform. People who were involved in the mysteries gave testimonies, historians and scientists were interviewed, and documents reviewed. Leonard Nimoy then narrated over all the collected and edited elements to tell stories and put forth possibilities.

From the wikipedia entry about the series:

The series conducted investigations into the controversial and paranormal (e.g., UFOs, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster). Additionally, it featured episodes about mysterious historical events and personalities such as Anna Anderson/Grand Duchess Anastasia, the Lincoln Assassination, the Jack the Ripper murders, infamous cults (e.g. Jim Jones), and missing persons, cities, and ships (e.g., Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa, D. B. Cooper, the Mary Celeste, the Titanic, the lost Roanoke Colony).
 Despite the wide range of subject matter, very few of the episodes were memorable for more than what they examined. Perhaps this has to do with the rather conventional approach to presenting the information. Except for the strange and mysterious topics, any one of them could fit with educational films shown at school during its run. A few of the shows, such as about hurricanes and tornadoes or historical lovers and famous people, didn't include paranormal conclusions.

Perhaps the most controversial episode, although not when it aired, had to do with the Earth freezing. It postulated that we were slowly entering another ice age that could become problematic in the next couple decades from the time of the episode. Of course these days many scientists and politicians claim global warming and an increase in more severe weather of all kinds. Those who doubt this claim can point to past predictions of a completely different outcome.

Time might have made a lot of the series obsolete, like computers that do more and less than heal people as stated in one show, but it retains great entertainment and educational value. It is a time capsule filled with wonderful knowledge fragments. What fascinated audiences then continues to be argued and debated today.

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