Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Forgotten TV: IN SEARCH OF:




Hosted by Leonard Nimoy, this show (1976-82) looked at various paranormal or odd phenomenon.

But this is more a question than a review here: when did we lose our interest in such things as Big Foot, The Lochness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle, Ancient Astronauts, people with E.S. P., people that could bend forks with their mind, etc.

Was there one particular debunking that took them out of the public awareness? 

24 comments:

Todd Mason said...

We haven't. That's why such latter-day frauds as GHOST HUNTERS populate cable, and why people are still quite insistent on the existence of yeti/sasquatches, alien artifacts in Area 51, etc. Faith "healers" continue to ply their trade undiminished...which, of course, not always particularly sound nor certainly universally competently practiced conventional medicine does nothing to stymie (when it's available, of course, in the Land of the Expensive...and let's wait till after the midterms, OK, for that Romneycare we've been dangling rather than a sane medical plan).

But Uri Geller was such a patent fraud that even amateur magicians such as Johnny Carson could see (and do better) is big tricks, which doesn't stop the gullible from still insisting he had Something in the way he moved...

Anonymous said...

I never watched this cheesy show.

I think to some extent people (well, some people) still want to believe in Roswell and UFOs and Bigfoot but the lack of evidence makes it tough. I mean, if you read about "Nessie" you'll find it was invented to help the local economy in the Great Depression.

The best debunking was nothing paranormal, it was the live 2 hour television "event" of Geraldo and Al Capone's Vault.


Jeff M.

Todd Mason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Mason said...

Well, that was more evidence, if any was needed for the sane at that point, that "Rivera" was a hustler.

http://www.randi.org/site/ is usually a useful resource.

The true believers always have evidence, which they will insist upon, which they will insist Must Be True. Creation "science," anti-vaccination activism, those who insist that little old we can't be having any serious effect on the weather...there's barely six billion of us and probably not quite that many fuming machines!...are at least as much in evidence as their cousins have been. Just because THE X-FILES and its ilk dealt with them in a fictional context doesn't mean there aren't plenty of folks still insisting on the 110% truth behind the fictional paranoia.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Although the phenomenon seemed bigger or more interest-worthy in the seventies.
Megan loved this show. She did a piece on it for a comic book, in fact. As an adult, I never much cared for it.
Love the concept of true believers more than their actuality.

Todd Mason said...

Well, one of the more salient points THE X-FILES ever made was that such concerns made for a great distraction from what (frankly) actually mattered, as well as giving the angry but disempowered a means of mocking the government and/or other authority without having to take on anyone who was likely to teargas or billy-club them.

Al Tucher said...

I'm forced to conclude that mass delusions are worse than ever. They have infected the entire culture, to the point where fewer and fewer people feel that they need evidence for what they want to believe.

Reality has become optional everywhere, not just in Congress.

George said...

There's always an audience for some weird stuff. Alien invasion, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night never really go away...kinda like professional wrestling.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well, maybe it is the more memorable myths I am thinking about. A more benign source of paranoia.

Randy Johnson said...

The Sasquatch/alien kidnappers/massive conspiracy heories are a lot of fun as long as one accepts them as entertainment and not reality. Sort of the same thing as professional wrestling.

Yes, I know, it's not real(shock! shock!), but can still be fun if viewed in the right light.

eviljwinter said...

Um... Have you seen the schedule on both History Channels, Discovery, and Nat Geo?

My wife and I spent hours last weekend making fun of the Ancient Aliens marathon. Because apparently some folks can't believe that Egyptians couldn't do math or build well-shaped piles of rocks.

pattinase (abbott) said...

No. I guess I am strictly a viewer of certain channels. This was a network show at the time, right? It wasn't always a special audience channel, was it? Got to surf more as my husband tells me.

Chris said...

I love this stuff. Personally, I find it no more nutty or outlandish than religious beliefs, which multitudes cling to without a shred of proof. I choose to believe there are mysteries in the world we can't explain, simply because I want to. Others seem to want to believe there are books that contain the word of an unknowable and unprovable divine being, etc. To each their own mystery, I guess.

Todd Mason said...

No, In Search Of... was a strictly low-budget, cheap to stations syndicated item that usually ran in "fringe" timeslots, after the FCC made the commercial networks clear out 7-8p ET/PT for affiliate-station use (except on Sundays). It was filler. Its competitors were game shows, the far better WILD WILD WORLD OF ANIMALS and other half-hour nature programs, and repeats, mostly.

Dan_Luft said...

This show came on when I was nine. It was the first time I saw something on TV that was full of conspiracies, half truths and open-faced lies. It was very frustrating to my little mind that anyone would bother to make such a series. It was the first time I realized that information could be so consciously abused.

Thirty years later I was shocked again to see it re-running on The History Channel (I'd been without cable for years). I actually sat and watched the one where they interviewed the "real,live Anastasia" who's body had been discovered 15 years earlier. But The History Channel was rerunning it.

A few years ago I visited a wing of the family I don't know very well and was surprised to be surrounded by at least three Holocaust deniers. Yup, people still dig this stuff. Some people hate information and like to feel smart.

Now I'm going to go check Facebook.

Jerry House said...

It would have been a far better show if James Randi had been the host.

Chris said...

I liked this show because it was fun. Like a comic book, or a movie. Did I believe it like I would a "formal" documentary show? Hell no. No more than I believe what I've seen of the staged ridiculousness of today's reality shows.

Do I believe there are mysteries in the world now? I do. Not necessarily Loch Ness Monster mysteries (though these things are fun to think about, kinda like UFOs), but there are a lot of completely rational people who have seen plenty of things that no one can explain. I love that.

Erik Donald France said...

More people in the US seem to have adopted a grimmer set of weirdness obsessions: "black ops," conspiracies,drones . . . etc. dystopia vs. weird and wonderful.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Chris, actually, most if not all those things *can* be explained...but those people you mention usually don't much like the explanations.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or have you ever noticed that people capable of entertaining the most bizarre and convoluted conspiracy theories are also the same people who require a connect-the-dots map for the most simple process? I'm thinking of a former co-worker who twisted himself into pretzels to prove he was the victim of a police conspiracy but required a two-hour meeting to understand why we were replacing a 9-digit field with one that was 10 digits.

I'm not exaggerating.

Deb

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wish I had watched it more instead of heckling Megan for loving it. I have more of a sense of humor now.

Keishon said...

In Search Of...wow....I did watch a few episodes, most reruns. I was a fan of Ripley's Believe it Or Not, too!

Todd Mason said...

Well, even though I was the kind of person it was made to annoy, and always have been, I also remember it being relatively cautious and bet-hedging (while even inaccurate on its own sad terms, as Dan Luft notes above), so dull on every level. But if very young Megan was thoroughly amused by it, that helps to explain her penchant for Brian De Palma these days...fwiw, Nimoy never appeared onscreen in any episode I saw, probably because they wouldn't pay him enough to do so, and perhaps because they wanted to ape Rod Serling's relation to THE UNDERSEA WORLD OF JACQUES COUSTEAU or Alexander Scourby's with NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIALS, two (of course) vastly better series (even though the Nat Geo channel is pretty disappointing now, if not quite as bad as the Discovery stations, as Jim Winter notes).

Cap'n Bob said...

I was entertained by it but I didn't believe in any of the aliens, monsters, etc. featured.