Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The granddaddy of all TV speculation documentary series, In Search Of was also one of the most successful, remaining in off-network syndication for six seasons. Hosted and narrated by former Star Trek co-star Leonard Nimoy, the weekly, half-hour series combined archival footage with newly shot material in its pursuit of the "truth" behind such phenomena as UFOs, lost civilizations, unexplained disappearances, reincarnation, urban legends, and the like. Subject matter ranged from the fact-based -- Amelia Earhart case, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Stonehenge, Jack the Ripper, The Titanic, the JFK assassination -- to the fanciful, including Bigfoot, the Garden of Eden, and the Loch Ness Monster. Quite often, host Nimoy and the In Search Of production staff tended to pose more questions than they provided answers, but that was all part of the fun. The history of the series would have made a good In Search Of episode in itself. In 1973, producer Alan Landsburg released a redubbed and reedited version of the German documentary film Chariots of the Gods, based on the Erich Von Däniken book about alien visitation in ancient times. Narrated by Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), Landsburg's version of this documentary proved quite successful as a one-hour TV special, In Search of the Ancient Astronauts, whereupon the producer decided to develop the property into a weekly speculative series. By the time the program had been prepared for syndication (with a national barter sponsorship) in 1976, Rod Serling had died, whereupon actor Robert Vaughn provided the narration for the pilot episode. When Vaughn proved unavailable for the series proper, Landsburg hired Leonard Nimoy on the strength of the actor's narration of The Unexplained, a similar documentary series produced by David L. Wolper that had never gone past the pilot stage. Debuting in most American markets in the spring of 1977, In Search Of filmed its 144th and final episode in 1981. Twenty-one years later, the series was revived for cable's Sci-Fi Channel, with Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files) serving as host. Debuting October 4, 2002, this eight-episode version of In Search Of differed from its predecessor in that three different topics were explored per episode, rather than just one.