The Old School of Paranormal Subtlety

"This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer's purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine."
Paranormal times have changed since the 1970’s. Alternative media content covering the odd and unusual, floods the airwaves and Internet on an hourly basis. Plenty of new information about the paranormal, extraterrestrial and ancient civilizations has come to light but in terms of capturing the quest to uncover life’s greatest secrets, few programs can top the spirit of In Search of… 
The weekly half-hour documentary show that aired from 1977-1982 explored a broad swath of subjects that all share the qualities of mystery and speculative theory. Producer/Creator Alan Lansburg and host Leonard Nimoy explored all the topics that are still being talked about – UFO’s, ghosts, ESP, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, Dracula, Atlantis, Witchcraft, Nazis, ancient astronauts and plenty more.


I’m still making my way through the entire series. I was an instant fan after watching one episode on UFO’s. The overall vibe of the old film look, the amazingly creepy synth score and the serious tone of Nimoy’s VO work, really had a big impact on me. I appreciate the show more because of the weathered film footage and production aesthetic. Admittedly, not every topic covered is my cup of tea but the series archive on YouTube allows me to pick and choose whatever I’m in the mood for. I plan on acquiring the complete box set very soon for posterity. I’ve already begun turning my seven-year-old, Bigfoot enthusiast son, on to the classic.

Looking back on In Search of…, it’s easy to draw the linage forward to Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM, Unsolved Mysteries, Disinfo TV and even The X-Files. With such an over abundance of paranormal content available instantly via the Internet, I can only imagine fans from the 70’s, geeking out, waiting for their once a week fix on the old tube. Having grown up in the 80’s and 90’s I can sort of relate but even then I had more venues to dive into for the weird and scary.

The remarkable thing about every show is the sincerity and respect the subject matter receives. Nimoy’s voice adds a sober and intelligent sensibility and can’t be underestimated. There’s never a hint that you’re being taken to see a sideshow spectacle or that the audience is being played for a fool. Great lengths were taken to handle the copy and cinematography with documentary film style professionalism. Ancient Aliens and Ghost Hunters, it was not.

The air and power of mystery is what makes the series work so well. The creators obviously felt comfortable presenting material without forcing a conclusive finality to the endings. With roughly 22 of screen time, it would be ludicrous to try. In most cases the witnesses and interviewees are allowed to tell the story, leaving it up to the viewer to decide. 

In my case, it’s not about deciding whether an urban legend or phenomena is real or not. My understanding is that the universe is far weirder than anyone can imagine. Just because science has no way to explain phenomena that never ceases to be reported, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. In Search of… represents the best possible mindset in this regard. 

A boundless curiosity about the world paired with a critical but open mind, willing to research into the shadows of our experience. I hope younger fans of these topics will go back in time like I did and rediscover this little treasure trove of strangeness. It’s a time capsule of a moment before sensationalism and camp took the place of reflective wonder and subtlety.


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