Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In Search Of...

This will be the final installment in my trilogy of posts honoring Leonard Nimoy. Today, I take a look at how he helped introduce me to the paranormal.

The TV show was called In Search Of. It began as a series of documentaries centered around the idea of Ancient Astronauts...long before Giorgio and the History Channel ever came along. The docs were hosted by Rod Serling. He died shortly after their production, but the show's producers had one more in the can and I would see it much later in life on late night TV. It was entitled Manbeast! Myth or Monster? focusing on reports of Bigfoot-like creatures and was hosted by Peter Graves. But to become a permanent thing, In Search Of would need a regular host.

They found one in Leonard Nimoy.

In 1977 I had already started reading about UFOs. My strong interest in science fiction had led me to the subject. The strong, vocal opposition from a teacher about this interest only helped solidify it. Then I happened across a syndicated airing of In Search Of. The journey into mystery accompanied by creepy music and the booming voice of Leonard Nimoy (whom I already knew as Spock) really got me. Naturally, the first episode I caught was on UFOs. In Nimoy's opening narration, he mentioned how these craft were often seen in "quiet, rural areas."

Damn! That's where I was living! Shivers. Even watching the episode on YouTube again does it to me a bit. Floods of memories coming back.

The episode ended with artist renditions of the UFOs, including one where the witnesses claimed to have encountered the occupants of the craft. Little seven year-old Jon Nichols slept with the lights on that night.

Didn't stop me from gorging on In Search Of at every opportunity. Here are a few of the other episodes I have found on YouTube:

In Search of Bigfoot. This one started out with a POV shot in a wooded area with sasquatch grunts and noises as the soundtrack. The description of sightings...a few of them not too friendly...and the physical evidence of footprints caused another sleepless night. Yeah, my parents were thrilled.

In Search of the Loch Ness Monster. Something's rotten in Scotland. It also sparked a lifelong desire to visit that dark lake in the Highlands.

In Search of Martians. Was there once a civilization on Mars? Did it die out from dramatic climate change? Could the same thing happen to us? Really, this show was years before its time.

In Search of Ghosts. We're deep in the paranormal now. This gave accounts and even photographs of souls who had not moved on. Chilling.

In Search of Dracula. We are all familiar with the dark magic of Stoker's vampire lord. But I must credit Leonard Nimoy with introducing me to the real life Vlad "The Impaler" Tepes, ruler of Romania.

In Search of Lost Vikings. Not paranormal, really, but I became utterly enraptured by the idea that the Vikings made it to America hundreds of years before Columbus. Is that really the hammer of Thor in the Arctic?

In Search of the Dark Star. Great introduction to the mystery of the Dogon Tribe of Africa who seem to know a hell of a lot about astronomy and tell tales of alien visitation.

In Search of Abominable Snowman. Had lots of great shots of a guy in a yeti suit. Made me not want to play in the snow.

In Search of Carlos the Jackal. Not paranormal, but an interesting look at the infamous terrorist. Caught it when I was 12 and deep into G.I. Joe. I thought Carlos would make a great Cobra operative.

In Search of Vincent van Gogh. As I said earlier in the week, Leonard Nimoy was an artist. He had great admiration for Van Gogh and wrote a one-man play about the artist called Vincent. It's an astounding play and I recommend you see it if given the opportunity. Nimoy's own research concludes that the man was not insane.

In Search of Sherlock Holmes.  Did the most famous detective in literature actually exist? Well in way, maybe, yeah.

So there. A mound of wonderful TV viewing awaiting your indulgence. None of it would have been possible without Leonard Nimoy and I'm not certain I would have been given such a foundation in the paranormal without the show. Now before anyone accuses me of hero worship, I will respond by saying this is the final Nimoy-themed post that I have planned. So relax.

I simply wanted to commemorate a wonderful artist and human being. Now, I have done that.

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