In Search Of... Gonzo, with Leonard Nimoy

In Search Of... was a "documentary" that ran on television from 1976 to 1982, hosted by Leonard Nimoy. I put "documentary" in scare quotes because the show was long on speculation and conjecture and short on facts. It focused on various mysteries, unexplained phenomena, the paranormal, myths, and so on.

Apparently there were two initial episodes (one in '73 and the other in '75) hosted by Rod Serling (of Twilight Zone fame), who had to be replaced as host after his untimely death in 1975. It really makes me wonder if the show might have been different had Serling lived to host it. Serling had a certain cache, although Nimoy had his nerd fame too as Star Trek was becoming a cult classic at the time.


In Search Of... was one of those shows I loved to watch as a kid. Each episode was presented as an investigative piece that delved into whatever topic was at hand with a pseudo-seriousness that left an impression on a young boy. Nimoy fit the role of host very well, narrating each investigation with that casual, straight forward way of his that so marked his role as Spock in the original Star Trek. The show really "fired the imagination," as someone once quipped. Remember, we're talking the late 70's here!


The episodes dealt with "far out" topics for its time, although nowadays it would be pretty standard fare for anyone that's ever watched the X Files or whatnot. Indeed, I bet the X Files writers were burning up episodes taped on VHS from reruns!

There's quite a bit of fodder in these shows to add strange elements into a campaign, particularly a "gonzo" campaign that mixes science and sorcery. Do these guys look like they made it into a Scooby Doo episode?

A partial listing of In Search Of topics included ancient astronauts, mysteries of the pyramids, lost civilizations, big foot, the Bermuda triangle, ESP and other psychic crap, Nazi loot, Stonehenge, shark worshipers, and so on.

Yep, shark worshipers! Look at the smile on this guy. He probably just tanked up on screaming native virgin chicks!


Another show that I remember watching, but can't seem to recall any details from, was Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, which was followed later by World of Stranger Powers and Mysterious Universe.

In truth, what really got me thinking about In Search Of was a silly AM radio program called Coast to Coast, that airs late at night/early in the morning where I live (1am to 4am). Coast to Coast discusses the paranormal, conspiracy theories, UFOs, alien civilizations, astrology and so on. There was never anything else on the radio for the ride home after the night shift, so I'd listen to Coast to Coast for some entertainment. One show dealt with the theory of a man who believed that earth was being run by a secret alien society that tunnels extensively beneath the earth. Supposedly, these aliens have mind control devices, fusion reactors, space ships, dimensional gateways, and all kinds of other SciFi tech. His "theories" reminded me of the movie They Live!

All in all, a weird bunch of nonsense entertainment that can be fun if approached with the an attitude of incredulity and an eye towards milking the material for campaign ideas. Unfortunately, there are folks who take this stuff very seriously (yes I've met a few).

Nimoy did another series for A&E called Ancient Mysteries that I haven't seen, but from what I can tell it was similar to In Search Of, at least in terms of the types of topics that were covered. I'm trying to find copies of that show, but so far no luck. I did find the first season of In Search Of recently, and am enjoying it immensely.

Time to throw a little gonzo into the mix. Now, where did I put those glasses?

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