In Search of Ancient Mysteries (DVD)

You remember In Search Of…, don’t you? Of course you do. The pseudo-documentary series, hosted by Leonard Nimoy, ran in syndication from 1976 to 1982. This DVD contains its unofficial pilot, the hour-long TV special In Search of Ancient Mysteries, which somehow was a big enough success to inspire a weekly series. Instead of Nimoy, we have Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) as host.

The theory is that aliens visited ancient civilizations, and evidence of this can be seen in artwork and other relics the ancients left behind. This special takes an entire hour to say what I just said in the previous sentence. Mostly, the doc shows footage of ruins and statues from Aztecs, Olmecs and the like, while Serling’s audio-only narration drones on about whether those old-timey folks might have had a hand from advanced space travelers. There are ancient patterns drawn on the ground that can only be seen from the sky, centuries before man created aircraft. The movie doesn’t just show us this once, but several times, making this point over and over. At other times, the narration meanders on about what aliens might or might not have done while the camera shows us various statues and ruins that don’t seem to have anything to do with what Serling is saying. A couple of experts get interviewed, to help break up the monotony, but they’re just repeating the same things Sterling tells us.

To make matters worse, the visual quality on this 1.33:1 full frame DVD transfer is horrendous, marked with scratches and flecks, and with faded, washed-out colors, as if the film had been left out in the sun for a few days. The Dolby 1.0 Mono tracl is decent, but hardly immersive. There are no extras.

I have no idea who the target audience is for this release. Anyone with an interest in UFO phenomena already knows this stuff, and the special is so dull and tedious that it’s not going to generate new curiosity among anyone else. The only real value is the novelty factor. The special was among the first of its kind, before stuff like this was as prevalent on TV as it is now, and it’s a faint glimpse into Serling’s later years, not long before he died. Still, I don’t know that this is enough to captivate today’s viewers.


I’ve finally succeeded in translating that mysterious cave painting. It says, “Guilty.”

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