In Search Of… Documentary Series Overview (1976)


Introduction

In Search of… is an American television series that was broadcast weekly from 1977 to 1982, devoted to mysterious phenomena.

The series was revived with host Mitch Pileggi in 2002 and again in 2018 with Zachary Quinto. The original series was shown in Australia in the 1980s under the title Great Mysteries of the World with each episode having an introduction and conclusion presented by television presenter Scott Lambert.

Background

It was created after the success of three one-hour TV documentaries produced by creator Alan Landsburg: In Search of Ancient Astronauts in 1973 (based on the book Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Däniken), In Search of Ancient Mysteries and The Outer Space Connection, both in 1975 (later adapted into popular paperbacks written by Landsburg).

All three featured narration by Rod Serling, who was the initial choice to host the spin-off show. Serling died before production started, and Leonard Nimoy was then selected to be the host.

Outline

The program conducted investigations into the controversial and paranormal (e.g. UFOs, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster). Additionally, it featured episodes about mysterious historical events and personalities such as Anna Anderson/Grand Duchess Anastasia, the Lincoln Assassination, the Jack the Ripper murders, infamous cults (e.g. Jim Jones), and missing persons, cities, and ships (e.g. Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa, D.B. Cooper, the Mary Celeste, the Titanic, the lost Roanoke Colony). Because the show often presented offbeat subjects and controversial theories, each episode’s opening credits included a verbal disclaimer about the conjectural nature of the evidence and theories to be presented:

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.

The production values were fairly typical of the period, with interviews, re-enactments and scenic footage shot on film, all voiced over by Nimoy. The music was composed by Laurin M. Rinder and W. Michael Lewis. A soundtrack album was released on AVI (American Variety International) Records in 1977.

Nimoy’s popularity among science fiction fans (due to his role as Spock in the original Star Trek television series) won the show a following in fandom circles. Nimoy wrote an episode about the turbulent life of artist Vincent van Gogh, having earlier played the artist’s brother Theo in a one-man show. As part of his research, Nimoy found records in the archives of the hospital where Van Gogh was treated that suggested that he suffered from epilepsy rather than insanity.

The show also spawned at least six spin-off books, all written by Landsburg with forewords by Nimoy: In Search of Lost Civilizations, In Search of Extra-terrestrials, In Search of Magic and Witchcraft, In Search of Strange Phenomena, In Search of Missing Persons, and In Search of Myths and Monsters, with an additional book that collected the best segments from these existing volumes.

In 1978, Landsburg produced a Bigfoot documentary using portions of two In Search of… episodes (“The Monster Hunters” and “The Yeti”) called Manbeast! Myth or Monster, based on his book In Search of Myths and Monsters. Though Nimoy had written the foreword to Landsburg’s book, he did not narrate this documentary.

Reruns of the In Search of… series aired during the early 1990s on the A&E Network. In the later 1990s, the show aired on another of the A&E Television Networks’ properties, the History Channel. The licensing agreement expired in the early 2000s, ending the show’s run. When the show aired on A&E, a re-recording of the original theme music was used plus a new alternative theme. The original opening titles were also modernised. In this incarnation virtually all of Nimoy’s on-camera appearances in the series were replaced with reused footage, so viewers could hear Nimoy but not see him.

A short-lived revival of the show, featuring Mitch Pileggi, aired on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2002.

In January 2018, it was announced that Zachary Quinto, who, like Nimoy, stars as Spock in the rebooted Star Trek films, would host the revived version of the show on History Channel. On 27 March 2019, History Channel announced the series was renewed for a second season.

Home Media Releases

In February 2012, it was announced that Visual Entertainment, under license from Universal Studios, had acquired the home video rights to the original series for the United States and Canada. In Search of: The Complete Collection was released in Canada and the US on 11 December 2012, from VEI’s website.

The 21-DVD set includes all 144 installments hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Also included are two Rod Serling specials: In Search of Ancient Astronauts and In Search of Ancient Mysteries which aired prior to the start of the regular Nimoy series. The three Landsburg specials, The Outer Space Connection, Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle and Manbeast! Myth or Monster, are not included. VEI also included all eight episodes of the short-lived 2002 series hosted by Mitch Pileggi.

Homages

The style of the original In Search of… has been paid homage to and parodied by many productions. Examples include Mysteries in History, a show-within-a-show that plays a part in the plotline to Men in Black II (the faux series is hosted by Peter Graves in the film; coincidentally, Graves once co-starred with Nimoy in Mission: Impossible). Two other examples are Truth from Legend and Fact from Myth, two nearly identical series existing in alternative universes for which “mini-episodes” were created for YouTube as part of the viral marketing campaign for the two-part video game BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea.

In Search Of… Series

There were 144 episodes across six series for the original programme, 8 episodes for the 2002 revival, and 10 episodes for the 2018 revival.

Production & Filming Details

  • Presenter(s):
    • Leonard Nimoy.
    • Mitch Pileggi.
    • Zachary Quinto.
  • Director(s):
    • Seth Hill … (11 episodes, 1979-1982).
    • H.G. Stark … (9 episodes, 1977).
    • Nicholas Webster … (3 episodes, 1977-1982).
    • Jon D. Ackelson … (3 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Glenn Winters … (2 episodes, 1981-1982).
    • Francis Hitching … (2 episodes, 1981).
    • Terry Landau … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Philip Dauber … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Marta Houske … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Peter Matulavich … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Sharron Miller … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Stephen Peck … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Barbara Wegher … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Robin Crichton … (1 episode, 1982).
    • John Dabney … (1 episode, 1982).
  • Producer(s):
    • Alan Landsburg … executive producer / producer (57 episodes, 1977-1982).
    • Barbara Wegher … executive series associate producer / producer / associate producer (30 episodes, 1978-1982).
    • Marta Houske … associate producer / series associate producer / producer / series producer (25 episodes, 1980-1981).
    • William Kronick … series producer (24 episodes, 1978-1981).
    • Robert L. Long … series producer (21 episodes, 1977-1978).
    • Andy White … series producer / producer (19 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Deborah Blum … series associate producer / producer (18 episodes, 1977).
    • Nancy Swaim … series associate producer / producer (15 episodes, 1981-1982).
    • Alex Pomansanof … producer (7 episodes, 1977-1980).
    • Lisa Demberg … series associate producer / producer (6 episodes, 1979-1980).
    • Francis Hitching … producer (5 episodes, 1977-1981).
    • Robert S. Fiveson … producer (5 episodes, 1978-1980).
    • Seth Hill … producer (5 episodes, 1979-1982).
    • Nicholas Webster … producer (5 episodes, 1979-1982).
    • Greg Goldman … series associate producer (5 episodes, 1979-1980).
    • Jeffrey Pill … series producer / producer (4 episodes, 1979-1980).
    • Annette M. Bettin … producer (4 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Jim McGinn … executive producer (3 episodes, 1977-1978).
    • Cheryl Quarantiello … series associate producer (3 episodes, 1978).
    • Jon D. Ackelson … producer (3 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Hans Holzer … producer (2 episodes, 1977).
    • Philip Dauber … producer (2 episodes, 1978-1981).
    • Peter Matulavich … producer (2 episodes, 1980-1981).
    • Glenn Winters … producer (2 episodes, 1981-1982).
    • Karen Cole Winters … producer (2 episodes, 1981-1982).
    • Larry L. Badger … producer (1 episode, 1977).
    • Jeremy Brink … producer (1 episode, 1977).
    • Tyrone Fox … producer (1 episode, 1977).
    • Roz Karson … producer (1 episode, 1977).
    • Fred Warshofsky … producer (1 episode, 1977).
    • Richard J. Wells … producer (1 episode, 1977).
    • Christine Z. Wiser … producer (1 episode, 1977).
    • Terry Landau … producer (1 episode, 1978).
    • Joel Ziskin … producer (1 episode, 1978).
    • Tamara Lucier-Green … producer (1 episode, 1979).
    • Barbara Hiestand … producer (1 episode, 1980).
    • Sharron Miller … producer (1 episode, 1981).
    • Stephen Peck … producer (1 episode, 1981).
    • Robin Crichton … producer (1 episode, 1982).
    • John Dabney … producer (1 episode, 1982).
  • Writer(s):
    • Seth Hill … (writer) (11 episodes, 1979-1982).
    • Alex Pomansanof … (writer) (7 episodes, 1977-1980).
    • Robert L. Long … (narration and written by) (6 episodes, 1977).
    • Barbara Wegher … (narration and written by) (6 episodes, 1978-1981).
    • Francis Hitching … (written by) (5 episodes, 1977-1981).
    • Deborah Blum … (narration and written by) (5 episodes, 1977-1980).
    • Diana Webster … (teleplay and story) (5 episodes, 1979-1982).
    • Robert S. Fiveson … (writer) (4 episodes, 1978-1980).
    • Nicholas Webster … (written by) (4 episodes, 1979-1982).
    • Jon D. Ackelson … (writer) (4 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Annette M. Bettin … (writer) (4 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Philip Dauber … (written by) (3 episodes, 1978-1981).
    • Hans Holzer … (narration and story) (2 episodes, 1977).
    • Alan Landsburg … (writer) (2 episodes, 1977).
    • Peter Matulavich … (writer) (2 episodes, 1980-1981).
    • Leonard Nimoy … (written by) (2 episodes, 1980-1981).
    • Glenn Winters … (2 episodes, 1981-1982).
    • Karen Cole Winters … (2 episodes, 1981-1982).
    • Larry L. Badger … (writer) (1 episode, 1977).
    • Jeremy Brink … (writer) (1 episode, 1977).
    • Tyrone Fox … (writer) (1 episode, 1977).
    • Roz Karson … (written by) (1 episode, 1977).
    • Charles Panati … (story) (1 episode, 1977).
    • Fred Warshofsky … (writer) (1 episode, 1977).
    • Richard J. Wells … (writer) (1 episode, 1977).
    • Christine Z. Wiser … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Terry Landau … (writer) (1 episode, 1978).
    • Joel Ziskin … (writer) (1 episode, 1978).
    • Tamara Lucier-Green … (writer) (1 episode, 1979).
    • Lisa Demberg … (writer) (1 episode, 1980).
    • Barbara Hiestand … (written by) (1 episode, 1980).
    • Marta Houske … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Sharron Miller … (writer) (1 episode, 1981).
    • Stephen Peck … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Robin Crichton … (1 episode, 1982).
    • John Dabney … (writer) (1 episode, 1982).
  • Music:
    • Laurin Rinder … (32 episodes, 1977-1982).
    • W. Michael Lewis … (20 episodes, 1977-1982).
    • Mike Lewis … (10 episodes, 1977-1982).
  • Cinematography:
    • Paul Desatoff … (6 episodes, 1977-1980).
    • Kevin McCafferty … (4 episodes, 1982).
    • Bertram van Munster … (3 episodes, 1980).
    • Charles Rudnick … (2 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Paul C. Babin … (2 episodes, 1980).
    • Rob Mikuriya … (2 episodes, 1982).
    • Tony Mitchell … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Elia Ravasz … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Jeri Sopanen … (1 episode, 1977).
    • George Voellmer … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Peter Warrilow … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Bill Delaney … (1 episode, 1979).
    • William B. Hartigan … (1 episode, 1979).
    • Robert S. Fiveson … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Tom Fraser … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Robert Handley … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Clay Harrison … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Ric Kidney … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Robert Leacock … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Ronald J. Migdal … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Rod Paul … (1 episode, 1980).
    • E.E. Scarlett … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Roger Smith … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Daniel Yarussi … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Gianfranco Transunto … (1 episode, 1981).
    • Rolf Kestermann … (1 episode, 1982).
    • Randy Rowen … (1 episode, 1982).
    • Cynthia Webster … (unknown episodes).
    • Bill Zarchy … (unknown episodes).
  • Editor(s):
    • John Dabney … (7 episodes, 1977-1982).
    • Sharron Miller … (4 episodes, 1977-1981).
    • Bill Voigtlander … (5 episodes, 1977-1979).
    • Clifford Hoelscher … (4 episodes, 1977).
    • Michael D. Ornstein … (4 episodes, 1977).
    • Ruben R. Munoz … (4 episodes, 1980-1982).
    • Thea Bentler … (3 episodes, 1977).
    • Art Stafford … (3 episodes, 1977).
    • Nancy Perry … (3 episodes, 1980-1981).
    • Lawrence Ross … (2 episodes, 1978).
    • Maggie Greenwald … (2 episodes, 1980).
    • Frederic Gibson … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Pieter Hubbard … (1 episode, 1977).
    • John Alan Schwartz … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Fabien D. Tordjmann … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Corky Ehlers … (1 episode, 1978).
    • Richard Fetterman … (1 episode, 1979).
    • Brad Arensman … (1 episode, 1980).
    • J. Larry Carroll … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Brogan De Paor … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Brad Goldberg … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Richard Heus … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Peter Matulavich … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Charles Rudnick … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Susan Slanhoff … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Joe Woo Jr. … (1 episode, 1980).
    • Jeffrey M. Hoffman … (unknown episodes).
  • Production:
  • Distributor(s):
  • Release Date:
    • Specials: 05 January 1973 to 1978.
    • Series 01: 17 April 1977 to 10 September 1977.
    • Series 02: 24 December 1977 to 01 June 1978.
    • Series 03: 14 September 1978 to 17 May 1979.
    • Series 04: 20 September 1979 to 14 March 1980.
      Series 05: 20 September 1980 to 19 May 1981.
    • Series 06: 21 September 1981 to 01 March 1982.
    • 2002 Revival, Series 01: 04 October 2002 to 22 November 2002.
    • 2018 Revival, Series 01: 20 July 2018 to 14 September 2018.
  • Rating: Not Rated.
  • Running Time: 30 minutes (per episode).
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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