Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Bigfoot" Season 1 Episode 5

The episode "Bigfoot" first aired on April 28, 1977 . It was written and produced by Larry L. Badger.

"Indians call him Sasquatch... " Nimoy dives right in pulling no punches! He tells the brief story of men working in a mine near Mt. St. Helens in 1924. Miners in  cabin later described the cabin coming under attack from large hairy apes. The reenactment shows men firing multiple gun shots. Too bad one didn't connect and produce a carcass. I was going to wait to bring this up, but its hard! Apparently the area where this incident occurred is known as "Ape Canyon."

Nimoy tells us about the old stories that Indians have about hairy men creatures in the Northwest of the United States. He tries to get us to relate by reminding those of us who live in modern cities that there remain parts of the US that are still relatively isolated. Perhaps this will make the stories of the Bigfoot creature more believable?

We next hear from Dr. Grover Krantz from Washington State University. By putting out the theory that Bigfoot could be descended from a common ancestor of humans, we are seeing some of the science behind the theory of their existence.

But not much time is spent here either. You know Nimoy is itching to get to what is perhaps the most compelling and yet to be disproven piece of "paranormal" footage ever produced. This is of course what is known as "The Patterson Film(Bigfoot appears at the 2:49 mark)". This film is an 8 millimeter home video of what appears to be Bigfoot in Northern California shot by Roger Patterson.

(still image from the Patterson Film)

I have seen this footage many times, and it is quite compelling. With all of the attention and technology of recent years, why is this still the best footage we have? That question is one that runs through my mind in 2015, but this footage was less than 10 years old when Nimoy discusses it here. Nimoy points out that Bigfoot sighting have occurred all over North America, but he keeps his focus on the Pacific Northwest. Once again, personal testimony provides the most compelling evidence. Louis Alway tells his personal story of his Bigfoot encounter in Washington. This is followed by the testimony of a local sheriff. He discussed his own stories of locals reporting these strange sightings and his own discovery of tracks that were much larger than a human's footprints. Just the idea that a currently employed law enforcement officer would go no the record is impressive. Another eyewtiness, Harold Tesky, told of his encounter on the side of a road. He describes the hairy creature is 3-4 feet wide and 6-7 feet tall. He goes on to say, "And the odor of this animal, after i rolled the windah down, was so offensive that I couldn't remian there any longer. And I was scared too... ".

(Harold Tesky)

Next we are introduced to Peter Byrne. He is leading the Bigfoot Investigation Project and Information Center. Byrne describes the process they go through to weed out hoaxes. One of their investigations reveals the story of the sighting by two loggers. The magic of this show is revealed to me here. As they attempt to give imagery to the eyewitness story, the whole scene is reenacted. The spooky music and the jerky motions of the camera all add to the overall creep factor. This is sadly missing from many modern shows that attempt to explore the unexplained. One of the loggers sketched what he saw.

The no nonsense way in which they tell their stories and seem to shun the spotlight all lend credence to the stories they tell. We finally get a glimpse of there the name Bigfoot comes from. Researchers have taken casts of foot prints that were found in connection to sightings. These footprints are of course much to large to be that of a human.

Considering the limited technology of the 70's. The idea that these prints are not faked seems way more believable than it does to us now. We hear from an investigator who believes one will be hunted soon and that will be the evidence we are missing. It makes sense, but he we are almost 40 years later and still there is no carcass. Nimoy points out that one area of tension is around the hunting of Bigfoot. One county in Washington has made it illegal to hunt Bigfoot we are told. So the debate of whether or not a body is needed to prove Bigfoot seems to be a big one in this area.

"While men ponder the dilemma to kill or not to kill, many Indians wonder why this preoccupation with proving Bigfoots exists. To the Indian, there is no doubt." Interesting point here by Nimoy. I'm sure this is just 70's thinking, but why refer to "men" and "Indians" separately as if male Indians aren't men? Any many people wonder where the Native American sentiment about mascots and team names comes from! The quote from the Indian is interesting, but I'm not sure it does much for acceptance of Native Americans. She compares the way some want to capture a Bigfoot to the same way whites wanted to "tame" Indians. Doesn't this just feed into the idea that Native peoples aren't human? Again, I think this is just antiquated thinking here.

"Man with his ingenuity and machinery continues to stalk this creature." Byrne is brought back and he reminds us that the gorilla was written about by the Ancient Greeks, but not discovered by science until the 18th century. He mentions other examples of recently discovered speicies. Even today in the 21st century we are discovering new speices. However, I'm not sure very many of these species have been specifically hunted with the same level of machinery and attention that Bigfoot has. Nimoy paints a pitcure of what he seems to think is an imminent discovery. I wonder what he was thinking on this subject before his death? With countless books, documentaries, and TV series devoted to Bigfoot over the last 35 years, we know no more now and have no better evidence of the existence of Bigfoot. Why?

Another very good episode. Hearing the personal stories told by common people who do not seem like polished speakers seeking attention and accompanied by creepy reenactments lends to the overall creep factor in this episode. I'm sure this would have been even more creepy and authentic when it was first viewed in 1977.

You can watch this episode "Bigfoot" below.

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