When you bring to life one of the most indelible characters in the history of television, it’s tough to come up with an encore. Leonard Nimoy, who will forever be known for his portrayal of Mr. Spock in the original “Star Trek” series and franchise, had a decent follow-up for two years on “Mission: Impossible” after the sci-fi series was cancelled. He even had a fine memorable role in a very good remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978.
But the befitting subsequent TV series for the man with the great authoritative baritone was “In Search of,” the syndicated hit TV series which had its primary run from 1976-1982. As the narrator, Nimoy presented examinations into strange occurrences and phenomena, such as The Bermuda Triangle disappearances or the discovery of Atlantis. It was a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.
What I loved about “In Search of” was that all the topics were given equal weight, regardless of perceived veracity, whether it was climate change (mentioned in those terms back in 1978!) or Bigfoot. One of my favorites was the search into The Amityville Horror, the story of which was discovered to be completely bogus.
That particular episode began (as all of them did) with the famed intro:
“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.”
With scenes of the recent hit horror film, The Amityville Horror, playing as background, Nimoy states seriously:
Most people think The Amityville Horror is a good, scary ghost story…what is not commonly known is that the film is actually based on fact. It is a true story.
I love me some good hucksterism and this particular episode, as some others, were hearty entertaining laughs. I just about lost it when the great Nimoy, describing the weirdness of the house, delivers the following solemn line:
“then they puzzled over a toilet that, when flushed…”
The sentence is unfinished. Instead, on the screen we see an opaque liquid make a flooded mess of the bathroom floor.
This series was a sort of continuation of the conspiracy exploitation genre, which pumped out popular 1970s movies like Beyond and Back and The Lincoln Conspiracy. “In Search Of” was like a mini-version of those movies made better by editing out the fat that the feature films would leave in.
Leonard Nimoy’s performance as Spock was so transformative for him as a performer that he could record several albums of badly sung music and narrate an exploitative TV series without ever doing damage to his career. In fact, they simply added to his legend.
Watch the unintentionally hilarious “In Search of” episode, “The Amityville Horror”: