Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ghost Hunters: A Creepy Kind of Geeky

Ghost Hunters hostsHere’s something a little different from me, Mr. Comics Guy. Ever see the Sci-Fi Network show called Ghost Hunters? Well, according to Sci-Fi (now known as "SyFy"), it’s the number-one rated cable show on Wednesday nights. So, there.

I started watching this show by accident, really. Home sick from work a few Halloweens ago, I was watching TV and kept passing by the Sci-Fi channel, looking for some good, old-fashioned Halloween horror movies. Well, all I got was a block of this new reality show called Ghost Hunters, with its small group of New Englanders running up and down empty hallways asking if everyone else heard or saw the thing that one person heard or saw. Usually, no one else did. Or, if they did, it turned out to be a small animal. Or dust. Or, sometimes, dust caused by a small animal.

Nonetheless, it was Halloween, and my satellite television provider was not providing me with anything even remotely close to traditional Halloween watching fare. So, Ghost Hunters it was. And, as I watched the marathon of that first season, and saw time and again how each supposedly haunted locale wasn’t very haunted at all, I started to get bored.

You see, over and over, the crew from TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) would show up at a house or a reportedly haunted library or what have you, and they would get to work. They would follow a frantic homeowner or librarian through this supposedly haunted place, and listen intently as said homeowner or librarian would give a rundown of whatever “haunted activity” was taking place in the building.

Ghost Hunters houseAfter the tour, TAPS would usually embark upon the following: they would set up all of their night vision and recording equipment around the location in hopes of catching something on film, they would walk around the building with tape recorders and hand-held and infrared cameras and they’d ask questions to spirits trapped in our realm and hope to find an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) left by some disembodied voice, they would check out what made any weird bump or crash in the night, and then they’d pack it all up, review the evidence from all the hours of recording and taping, and report back to the homeowner or librarian about what they had found.

And, for most of the first season, that was absolutely nothing.

No ghosts, no poltergeists, no demons, no creepy little twins hiding in a closet. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, co-founders of TAPS, would go back to the homeowner, tell him or her that the place wasn’t really haunted, explain what that strange noise he or she was constantly hearing in the night actually was (a leaky faucet or faulty pipes in the basement are always prime suspects), and then the TAPS crew would hop in their black vans with their bright yellow TAPS logos painted on them and they’d go home.

Then, Jason and Grant would turn to each other and say something to the effect of “nice job” or “good case,” and they’d give one another a fist bump. Cue the theme song, and cut to the credits. End of show.

And this was episode after episode.

And I started saying to myself, “Self, this is boring. When are the ghosts going to show up?” Then I’d say to myself, “Wow, that was a stupid question. Jerk.” Now, I’m not going to get into whether or not I believe in ghosts, because that’s neither here nor there. But, I will say this, I found myself really liking Jason and Grant, precisely because they didn’t find any ghosts, and because, more often than not, they would end up telling the frantic homeowner that their place wasn’t haunted. And, when TAPS would leave a place, said homeowner was visibly more relaxed than when the episode started.

There are other “true paranormal” shows on TV now, and typically the hosts of those shows find something every single episode. And, while that makes for wonderful television—um—it also makes for really absurd reasoning. Fuzzy math, if you will. Science cannot prove the existence of the paranormal, yet some English guy on a cable channel manages to become possessed by a spirit week after week.


So, while the other shows out there work to prove the existence of paranormal forces in this world, Ghost Hunters really does try to do the opposite. Granted, it is certainly true that some TAPS members are much more willing to accept bumps and crashes in the night as proof of the supernatural than I am comfortable with as an objective observer of the show. But, I have to admit, the TAPS crew has come across some pretty strange evidence and has captured some pretty weird sounds and images as the series moves into its fourth season on Sci-Fi.

Ghost Hunters TAPS crewAt its heart, Ghost Hunters is a good show with good people. Jason and Grant seem like the kind of guys you’d want to hang out with. And they seem like the type of guys you’d want at your back when the going gets tough. The way the team interacts is what really drives the show, as various members of TAPS have some arguments and disagreements along the way. By far, the most explosive of these disagreements are between Jason and (well, now former) TAPS member Brian. These arguments and life dramas are what makes this show so, well…real.

It’s funny to say this, but a show called Ghost Hunters is probably the most “reality” of reality TV shows out there right now.

And I am now a total Ghost Hunters fanboy. That said, the show has really taken off lately, and there are even TAPS Conventions around the country. In fact, Jason and Grant made an appearance at the 2008 NY Comic Con, and they filled a conference room with a large crowd of enthusiastic fans. So, chances are, if you’re coming to this blog, then you have most likely heard of this show. And, if you have seen the show, please leave comments, as I’m really interested to hear what you have to say. Oh, and also, Season Four of Ghost Hunters premieres tonight (Wednesday, September 3), and new episodes run each Wednesday night at 9:00. Check ‘em out!

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