Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Other Voices" Season 1 Episode 1

At the beginning of each episode in this season we learn that the series producer is Robert L. Long and the executive producer is Alan Landsburg.

The episode "Other Voices" first aired on April 17, 1977 . It was directed by H.G. Stark and written and produced by Roz Karson.

The theme of this first episode (which aired when I was two years old) is to explore the possibility that plants respond to human thoughts. I think it's important to keep a few things in mind as you watch this episode. Remember, it is the 70's and it was in fashion for people to think way outside the box. It also means the 60's are not that far from being over and so many people are still thinking about things like levels of higher consciousness and the impact of hallucinogenic drugs on peoples perceptions of the world. This should be in the back of your mind as you watch each episode, as there is definitely some weird vibes form this show at times that can be a bit difficult to relate to in the 21st century. For me, this is the charm this show holds! I also think it's important to keep in mind that this is the first episode. As is the case with many programs, the first few episodes are not as good as later shows that are made once a series has found its niche and gotten into a routine with a formula that works.

Keeping these things in mind, I would say this was an "ok" episode. I love the voiceover at the beginning, "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.” I'm not sure if this happens at the start of every episode or not, but its interesting that perhaps they were concerned enough about criticism to put this little disclaimer right at the beginning. I have to admit the "sound" Nimoy talks about at the beginning is a bit disturbing. I couldn't help but crack a smile when Nimoy explains that the sound may be evidence that plants may be able to communicate. It is somewhat ridiculous perhaps, but the idea of plants reacting to humans is not as strange as research chemist Vogel would like us to believe. Are you a green thumb or a brown thumb?

Is it really all that surprising that plants have sense and can respond to stimuli? Maybe it was in 1977? Does anyone else think this is basically High School Biology? At any rate Nimoy's voice and tone have a magical way of conveying a sense that whatever he s talking about is mysterious and maybe a little scary. I was disappointed to see that Rock Music killed the plants! They are obviously no judge of good music. Kendal Johnson and his "electrical photography" felt a little bit like nonsense to me. I think that segment is some of that "60's psychadelic" left over influence I mentioned in my first post. I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Johnson spent a little too much time in Berkeley just 10 years earlier from when this episode was made.
(Kendal Johnson)
So yes it was a little weird and maybe even corny in places, but I didn't get the sense it was all that crazy of a theory. I t was almost like the producers were trying to make it more "trippy" and bizarre than the theory actually is. Its almost like the producers were thinking, "Plants react to stimuli and here is the evidence. But let's make it a little more bizarre by mentioning the electricl photography and some other weird experiments, and play some trippy music and show some psychadelic images."

Nimoy is awesome as usual in this episode. He dryly comments with no sign of skepticism or enthusiasm, "For whatever reason, the experiment fails. Perhaps Baxter has performed it to often? His reaction may not have been genuine?" You think?

The experiment at the end with yogurt was interesting. He connected a lie detector to the yogurt to see if it was lying I guess? Baxter tells us there is a reaction and so I guess the yogurt was lying? At least until the bacteria is killed by antibiotics, than the lying stopped. Baxter concludes that even the simplest living things have feelings!

So it wasn't my favorite episode by any stretch, but I found it interesting just because of Nimoy and the weird 70's vibe.

If you haven't seen it yet, you click on the video below to watch "Other Voices"

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