Friday, February 27, 2015

Best "In Search Of..." episodes

We all loved Leonard Nimoy as Spock, but in all the discussion of that wonderful character, one of his other classic roles has been forgotten. It's hard to find a 1970s kid who doesn't have fond, freaky memories of "In Search Of...", and Nimoy's straightforward, Spock-logical narration was a huge part of it.

Now we know that this show was often a TV version of "The Weekly World News," and its pre-show disclaimer tried to cover itself, admitting that it was based on "theory and conjecture," and "the producers' purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones."

Here's a look at some of my favorite episodes.

The Bermuda Triangle, first season
Just the idea that our planet had thee mysterious places that could never be explained was both terrifying and fascinating for a kid who'd maybe never left their own hometown.

Bigfoot, first season
Oh yes. He could've been this show's mascot. Completely made up, yet with enough delightful sightings and fuzzy photographs to keep the myth alive.

Killer Bees, first season
Oh, this terrified us. Spotting any bee became akin to seeing your executioner after we watched this one.

Atlantis, first season
It seemed like one day we might even be able to vacation there, playing basketball with the Sea-Monkeys and dunking on Aquaman.

The Lost Dutchman Mine, second season
A supposed lost gold mine in Arizona or Mexico or maybe just made up, but the idea that when we grew up, we might just be able to dig a hole and get rich was a kid's American dream.

Michael Rockefeller, second season
Disappearing people are fascinating, Disappearing zillionaires even more so. Disappearing zillionaires who may have been eaten by cannibals? Score!

The Great Lakes Triangle, third season
Because the Bermuda Triangle was just too darn far away.

The Money Pit Mystery, third season
I feel like this one ran every other week, and we ate it up. It told the tale of supposed buried treasure in a pit in Canada, and every group who went digging for it ended up giving up. Blackbeard's treasure? Marie Antoinette's jewels? There's probably nothing there, but damn, the chase was enticing.

The Lost Colony of Roanoke, fourth season
"Where did they go?" mysteries are always intriguing. See also: The Mary Celeste, numerous other found-sailing-without-crew stories as told in cheesy Scholastic paperbacks.This one is America's first, and the one-word clue CROATOAN makes it even juicier.

The Abominable Snowman, fourth season
If Bigfoot is this show's mascot, the Yeti is his understudy. We kids of the '70s totally believed in these big guys.

Jimmy Hoffa, fifth season
The END ZONE. He's in the END ZONE.

MIAs, sixth season
Were there still Vietnam vets being held prisoner, a la "Rambo"? One of the saddest and most disturbing episodes of a show that usually was much easier to snark at.

The Elephant Man, sixth season
Even if you thought you were funny-looking, hated your braces or glasses or a dumb birthmark, you had nothin' on John Merrick

Houdini's Secrets, sixth season
Houdini had it all for a show like this. Dazzling escape-artist magic, worldwide fame, an abrupt and early death, the whole thing about telling his wife Bess he'd try to talk to her from the beyond. We could only hope that one day, in our lifetime, there'd be another Houdini. (David Copperfield/Blaine, you guys do not count.)

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