Nazca Lines

In Search of… Ancient Aviators

I was a bit worried about watching these shows with my kids.  Much though I enjoy sharing my childhood experiences with them, I was worried that this one might do some harm to their developing critical thinking skills.

I needn’t have worried.  While watching this one, Michelle jumped right to the head of the class.  As Nimoy was slowly building the case for advanced aviation thousands of years ago, Michelle stole the thunder of their final gambit by saying, “Why don’t they just say ‘aliens from space did it’?”

How right she was.

In Search of… Ancient Aviators is all over the board.  Spinning a wild series of half-baked conclusions based on the most tenuous of historical info.  What does the story of Daedalus and Icarus and the work of Leonardo DaVinci have in common?  Yes, they both mention flying!  Other people in the past have mentioned flying, too!  If that’s the case, maybe the story of Daedalus and Icarus isn’t just a myth, but based on something else?

And did you notice that some old temples in India look a bit like rocket gantries?  (or stairways)  Maybe that means something?  Something to do with people flying perhaps?

My favorite had to be this one…  the Mayans of Central America built huge, advanced cities, which we’re slowly digging out of the jungle, but what’s strange is that they don’t have roads between them!  Maybe they had the technology to fly between the cities?

(Or maybe the jungles have uprooted any roads that once existed?)

The whole episode is predicated on the Nazca Lines of Peru, which serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever unless they were built for people in flying machines to see, and, of course, would be impossible to make without aerial surveying.

(At this point, Michelle asked, “what if they just drew it on a small piece of paper and made grid lines on it, the made larger grids on the ground and copied it that way?”  Yes, indeed, Michelle, what if they did do that?  Answer:  There wouldn’t be anything to say in this episode.)

Nimoy is still studio-bound, but his blazer is buttoned this week.

I only noticed one sun flare shot this episode, when they were looking up an abandoned bit of Cape Kennedy and comparing it to some temple in India.

A brilliant observation in this episode, per Nimoy:  An analysis of the Nazca Lines reveals that some of them are pointing at significant astronomical locations but no more so than would be expected by random chance.  Wow, that must mean something!

141 episodes to go!

In Search of… Ancient Aviators first aired April 24, 1977

(Yes, I know that matches the last episode, blame Wikipedia.)

 

In Search of... title screen

In Search of… Strange Visitors

It’s only episode 2 and I already feel like it’s a “filler” episode.

From the title, you might think this one is about ancient astronauts, but it’s not.  It’s about a site called Mystery Hill in New Hampshire (Now known as America’s Stonehenge.)

According to the episode, Mystery Hill is a strange, pre-European-colonization town that doesn’t exhibit characteristics of the indigenous natives who lived in the area when Europeans arrived.

Native Americans civilization in the area had “…no more impact upon the land than a carpet of bright leaves in an autumn forest.”  It’s all very poetic but is it buying into the myth that Native Americans lived in harmony with the world, or is it a veiled slight at the savages?

Of course, that means they couldn’t possibly have stacked rocks!

Radio-Carbon dating, scientists and Harvard archaeologists ultimately posit that North America was a veritable melting pot of European and North African settlers 1,000 years “…before the birth of Christ” and that Mystery Hill must be the work of ancient Minoans who just nipped over to North America from Crete.

Yep.  I’m glad I learned my North American archaeology from watching In Search of…

I’ll let you look this one up on Wikipedia if you want to get some idea of why ancient Minoans might not be the first, best answer to this “mystery.”

Stonehenge made a surprise appearance in this episode, despite there being no connection with Mystery Hill whatsoever.  Also, so-called Druids.

Lots more footage in this one with the sun flaring and backlighting the foreground subject.  Also, there’s no doubt that when they want to convey a sense of exploring the strangeness, they go for pre-steadicam hand-held cameras.

With all the sun flares, I’m guessing JJ Abrams grew up watching this show, too.

Nimoy is still studio-bound in this episode, too, but this time, at one point, he’s been given an uncomfortable looking stool to sit uncomfortably on.

I don’t remember it from episode 1, but this episode ended with the standard In Search of… closing narration I knew so well as a child.  I can recite it as well as the opening monologue in Star Trek.  It makes it sound all so authoritative!

Lost civilizations… extraterrestrials… myths and monsters… missing persons… magic & witchcraft… unexplained phenomena.

In Search of… cameras are traveling the world seeking out these great mysteries.  This program was the result of the work of scientists, researchers and a group of highly-skilled technicians.

In Search of… Strange Visitors first aired April 24, 1977

In Search of...

In Search of… Other Voices

This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producers’ purpose is to suggest some possible explanation, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.

So started every episode (so far as I know) of In Search of… Hoo boy, have they got that right!  I wish all the crap on the cable networks these days included that honest, if ineffectual, disclaimer!

Ineffectual? Yes, because I heard it every week and basically disregarded it.  Such is the power of television and editing that, in no way, was I ever in doubt of the honesty or sincerity of this show.

This is the first regular episode of In Search of… After three previous “specials” featuring Rod Serling, the series proper, with Leonard Nimoy, starts here with the investigation of whether plants can communicate.  It seems a strange one to start off with.  I would have lead with UFOs or Bigfoot.

The quality of the video is… poor.  There’s no obvious restoration work lavished on this box set, but at least the original music (and presumably run length) has been restored.

Nimoy is an uncomfortable host, standing, at times, in ridiculously staged and uncomfortable-looking poses as he walks amongst large photographic stand-ups of In Search of… topics and an obligatory potted plant.  His blue blazer, red turtle-neck sweater and grey Sans-a-Belt trousers scream 1970’s.

Uncomfortable he may seem on camera, but his oft-imitated In Search of… delivery is on-the-mark even in episode 1.

The unique visual style of In Search of… is here, too.  The visit to the Denver Botanical Gardens is complete with the show’s trademark “looking up through trees at the sun” style.

Oh how I’ve missed this show!

As for the content…  in a nutshell:  plants might respond to people with “green thumbs.”  People with green thumbs have more auras when photographed using Kirlian Photography than people with self-reported “brown thumbs.”  Plants die when exposed to Acid Rock, but thrive and even bend towards the speakers when exposed to classical music.

My favorite part had to be when the researcher (who had spent 25 years studying the subject) tortured yogurt while other yogurt was connected to a polygraph!  (and also torturing an In Search of… staffer.)

In short, the idea is this, a plant or yogurt (yes, yogurt, the stuff from the diary aisle) is attached to a polygraph and then a nearby human is cut with a scalpel.  According to the results shown, the plant registers a reaction when the person is injured.

In the case of the yogurt, which was placed in a test tube, a nearby beaker of yogurt is subjected to antibiotics, killing them.  As you might expect, nothing happens to the yogurt in the test tube.  However, a second “experiment” has milk added to the beaker of yogurt.  When that happens, the test tube of beaker reacts!

The “scientist” hypothesizes that when the beaker of yogurt gets fed, the test tube yogurt starts sympathetically craving food.

I wonder if the polygraph is any more reliable on plants than it is on people?

All-in-all, it was a blast from the past episode.  Only 143 more to go!

In Search of… Other Voices first aired on April 17, 1977

In Search of...

In Search of… My Past

It’s no secret that I’m a card-carrying skeptic (or “sceptic” for our British readers.)  Sometimes, though, the birth of skepticism comes from a strong interest in the strange, the unexplained…  the paranormal.

Like anything I’m interested in, I tend to devour anything I can on the subject, so as child, I read everything I could get me hands on concerning bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts and the like.

But starting in 1977, nothing was a bigger highlight of the week for me than Leonard Nimoy’s In Search of… Every week, I was taken into a new world of possibilities – into a world that still had creatures to be discovered, aliens to encounters and mysteries to be solved.

What a shame it was all complete bullshit!  Perhaps I should be angry, but I’m not.

Today I’m starting a new series of written articles, a one man Fusion Patrol odyssey through all 144 episodes of In Search of…

For me this is going to be a chance to relive the mysteries of childhood, and I’m not looking at these critically, instead, I’m just going to give my impressions about what stands out in each episode, be that scientific, artistic or just from my sense of the absurd.  Whatever happens to grab me.

The Science of The Avengers

The Science Fiction of The Avengers

A while back, Eugene and I tried to work out what’s scifi (and what’s not). This came about when Eugene included The Avengers on a list of top scifi shows which surprised me, because while it’s my top show, I wouldn’t have considered it scifi. On the podcast we spent about an hour discussing what scifi is,  without reaching a conclusion, but along the way we discussed all sorts of different types of scifi, and the blurry boundary into fantasy.

Continue reading

The Twelfth Doctor

185 – Doctor Who – Series 8 in Review

Simon and James join Eugene to consider Peter Capaldi’s first year as the Doctor.

(We’ve had a number of technical problems with this podcast recording.  Apologies for the sound quality and glitches.)

Death in Heaven

184 – Doctor Who – Death in Heaven

Danny Pink, soldier, a man barely alive. (Well, dead really.)  We can rebuild him.  We have the technology.  We have the capability to make the world’s first Cyberpink.  Danny Pink will be that man.  Better than he was before.  Better, stronger, faster, just as dead.

Ah, who am I kidding?  Ben and Eugene are just reviewing the final episode of Doctor Who Series 8, Death in Heaven.

Podcast and reviews from the team at Fusion Patrol

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