In Search of... (TV series)

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Not to be confused with the fantastic funk rock album by N.E.R.D. named after it.

In Search of… was a television series which ran from 1977 to 1982 inspired by three one-hour TV documentaries: In Search of Ancient Astronauts,[note 1] In Search of Ancient Mysteries and The Outer Space Connection,[note 2] and hosted, facepalmingly, by none other than Leonard Nimoy,Wikipedia most famous as "Spock" in the original Star Trek TV series.[note 3] The show was originally broadcast on commercial television in the United States, inspired a 2002 revival on the Sci-Fi Channel, with the original later rebroadcast on A&E Network and History Channel.

The series covered a wide variety of topics from climate change (supportive), to Atlantis to Jack the Ripper. The lead-in to each episode of the original series had In search of… Extraterrestrials, Magic and Witchcraft, Missing Persons, Myths & Monsters, Lost Civilizations, and Strange Phenomena. It also had a verbal disclaimer of "This series presents information based on theory and conjecture. The producer's purpose is to suggest some possible explanations[note 4] but not necessarily the only ones to the mysteries we will examine."[1]

Funny how "wild speculation" later became "history", isn't it?

It spoke conspiracy theories, science fiction, wild speculation investigated mysterious things.

The 2002 revival was very short lived, lasting 8 episodes with each episode covering 3 to 4 "mysteries".

As of 2018, the History Channel is planning another revival with Zachary Quinto (most famous as "Spock" in some Star Trek movie reboots), who played as host this time. From the promotional material, it is going to be more woo.[2] Why, Quinto?? A: Because Mr. Spock presented the original show. Obvious, really.

The rational and the irrational[edit]

As expected from its woo origins, In Search of… more often than not suggested incredible solutions for its mysteries. Thankfully for the skeptical viewer, it did go into more rational and plausible explanations for some of the mysteries it looked at.

Some of the better episodes in this regard were:


Of the 144 episodes, the majority went off in woo woo land with not even 15% (22) in anything approaching rational land. Even with mundane topics like Jack the Ripper, wild speculation (that it was a Masonic plot) rather than anything rational (1880s police simply didn't have the tools to capture a serial killer) was the rule. The original show is more useful as a snapshot of 1970's woo than it is for any information it may provide.

The 2002 revival is in some regards worse as, when it does go into rational explanations, it tries to explain popular views rather than what actually existed. For example, the section on vampires used the porphyriaWikipedia explanation which at best only explains a small subset of vampire myths. So small, in fact, that the idea is generally thrown out on suggestion.

The episode In Search of the Coming Ice Age (SE02, ep 23; 1978) is a fascinating time capsule for anyone interested in the evolution of climate change theory. It is one of the earliest representations of this idea in popular culture along with Britain's Alternative 3. At this particular point in time, the mainstream view was that it would bring in an Ice Age rather than global warming (or the more nuanced and complex climate ideas of today). Modern viewers may want to see this for what it did and didn't get right, and which problems are still relevant.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. A variation of Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods? woo.
  2. More of Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods? woo.
  3. Star Trek co-star, William Shatner later evened up the score with his show, Weird or What?
  4. The wilder, the better