Seeking In Search Of...
Some members of the so-called Generation X say that they have a dim memory of a documentary program named In Search Of (1976-1982). They say they can recall watching it on television as kids. However they will admit that these childhood recollections are hazy. Can they be right in saying that the program was hosted by Leonard Nimoy and that in some episodes he sported a moustache? Did Nimoy ever have a mo? The scepticism of many is provoked and the evidence is scarce.
The documentary hunters say they have proof of the existence of In Search Of. With the Internet they can now fan the flames of fading memory by looking at episode lists on Wikipedia or even watching episodes themselves that have been posted on YouTube. But once more sceptics wade in and say that anyone can edit Wikipedia and that the episodes on YouTube are of such poor quality that they could have been filmed in a backyard with a few basic costumes and props. They even refer to the dinky incidental music as proof that the online eps are a half-arsed fabrication.
But - believers ask - why would we just imagine or invent this stuff? The show must have existed complete with all its half-baked investigations into popular topics of the paranormal and esoteric. The detractors once more have an answer - "well you all must just be mis-remembering Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World." But Clarke had a beard rather than a moustache.
Will this debate ever be resolved? I decided to find witnesses to the making rather than the viewing of In Search Of. They will have the answers because it was they that the show was investigating. Here I report on three interviews I conducted.
A Space Alien
One of the recurring topics of In Search Of was Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and I happen to live a few suburbs away from a well-known UFO encounter site - Westall. There in the late 60s many residents of the south-eastern Melbourne suburb reported seeing UFOs. So I sat over many cool nights in the paddock set aside for power lines until a pearlescent flying saucer came along wondering why I was sitting there. A grey midget emerged and offered me a spliff. I am a non-smoker so declined. The extra-terrestrial then overcame my reservations by asking me into his vessel to use his state-of-the-art Vaportron which produces mist rather than smoke. I accepted his offer so that we could have a relaxing conversation. Once we were nicely mellow I asked him whether he could ever recall seeing the In Search Of cameras and crew.
"Fucked if I can remember dude. I come to Sol-3 to get away from the stresses of the Cosmos and am always stoned. I cannot distinguish one set of UFOlogists from another. Just chill baby chill and take in the sublime atmosphere in this sweet ride of mine."
So that was a futile avenue of enquiry for me and I had to go further from home to get my answers.
The Loch Ness Monster
Why did some of my ancestors ever live in such a barren and overcast land as Scotland? And why indeed does a huge prehistoric reptile brave the cold waters of its lochs. Here is what Nessie had to say as we met on the banks under the shadow of Castle Urquhart.
"Listen darling I am just one of many plesiosaurs here. We frolic in these waters and have a lovely old time. It was fine for my ancestors and it’s fine for me. As for your In Search Of crew - well - I am told that they saw a hint of me blowing bubbles once but I was just a wee lass then. I cannot remember seeing them but then that Summer was a busy one for our fans - I do recall posing for some hazy underwater photos taken by a National Geographic crew."
So close yet so far. If Nessie could offer me nothing definitive then I had to go to the home of In Search Of and visit the United States of America.
Sasquatch lives in a modest log cabin in the Rocky Mountains. We sat in front of his fireplace drinking cups of cocoa the huge hominid had kindly made. His traditional furnishings contrast with the tokens of his fascination for pop culture and kitsch. In particular I was drawn to autographed framed photos hanging on his walls - apparently Sasquatch is a big fan of both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. These are definitely more interesting than the fake singing trout, which hangs over the fireplace. Following a rambling conversation he finally gave me the information I was craving.
"For sure boy I saw them In Search Of jokers wandering round my hills back in the Spring of 77. I was just making like the Pope and shitting in the woods and then there was this huge ruckus. That camera crew was all over my turf in 4x4s and even a helicopter. I went snooping round to get a look at them. They never saw me but I sure did see them messing with some dirt in a clearing. I hung back - you know - on account of me having difficulty interacting in big groups. I have never got the hang of small talk. Anyway eventually they left and I took a look at the clearing. And I'll be damned but them In Search Of varmints had faked one of my footprints and then taken a cast of it. They had also left this behind..."
Sasquatch showed me what I needed. A frayed and faded fragment of a script directing the crew to film a Big Foot hunter displaying a footprint and taking a cast of it. I have since lost it in transit back to Australia.
Is my account proof of the existence of In Search Of? You be the judge. If you do accept my treatise then Gen-Xers can now happily watch those online eps with the confidence of knowing that the show that inspired our childhood imagination and now embarrasses us as adults with its wild conjectures and lack of academic rigour did in fact exist.
For those who may be wondering I can confirm that this post consists mostly of bull dust and baloney. Much of it is utter fabrication however it is a fact that in the past Leonard Nimoy did have a moustache.