Paranormal TV shows, eh? There are loads of them. Some good, some bad, some average. Come duck behind the sofa with me as I peruse what the genre has to offer.
The daddy of paranormal TV has been running since 2004. To date there have been ten seasons, not including spin-off’s and specials. It started small, with ghost busting plumbers Jason and Grant of the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) careering around America in a van seeking out and investigating supposedly haunted locations. They emphasise the scientific approach, using various pieces of equipment to either gather or debunk evidence. The early seasons were more ‘docu-soap,’ and featured more material from the investigator’s private lives. This was soon phased out. Thankfully.
Ghost Hunters International
As above, only in more exotic locales. Like Australia, Germany and, er, Wales. Premiered in 2008 and ran for three seasons before being canned, presumably because of the expense incurred by sending a bunch of people all over the world looking for ghosts. Plus, there was a really annoying Irish bloke in it called Barry “Can you give me a sign?” Fitzgerald. Was show being canned enough of a sign for you, Barry? He is second only to the even more despicable Andy Andrews, who struts around like a smug, know-it-all little prick the whole time. If I was ever in a dark, confined space with him, I’d punch him in the face repeatedly.
This is one of my favourites, and one of the longest running. Season 11 started in August. Zac Bagans is one of the most confrontational dudes ever. He has the physique of an NFL player and charges around deserted mental hospitals and jails at night with a couple of mates frightening the shit out of the poor resident spooks. If anything remotely paranormal happens, the bunch of them usually run screaming out of the place. They also pick on the chubby shaven-haired dude with a goatee who gets all the worst assignments. “Aaron! Go lie in that festering haunted crypt and don’t come out until we tell you!”
The British answer to Ghost Hunters. Never been a fan. It all seems a bit contrived and over-dramatic to me. Yvette Fielding is decent, I used to have a crush on her when she was in Blue Peter. But the resident psychics spoil it all, especially Derek Acorah when he was exposed as being a massive fraud shortly before being booted off the show in 2005. To date MH has run for no fewer than 17 seasons and amassed almost 200 episodes, which makes you wonder how many supposedly haunted locations there can be.
Fact or Faked
I dislike this show immensely. What a pointless exercise. A bunch of patronising bellends who choose something like, say, the Loch Ness Monster, then spend the entire show trying to make something that looks like the Loch Ness Monster but isn’t. I could make something that looks like melted chocolate ice cream, that doesn’t mean it is melted chocolate ice cream. It proves nothing.
This features dramatic re-enactments of hauntings, demonic possession, time slips, and all kinds of other weird shit. It ran for four seasons on Discovery Channel, and then took a five-year hiatus before being revitalized on Destination America in 2012. Most episodes follow the same format so it can get a bit repetitive after a while, but it is exceptionally well-made. For the most part, it has also managed to escape controversy and accusations of over-dramatization which gives it an air of credibility sadly lacking in most of its contemporaries. Season eight premiered on Halloween.
This show, featuring two blokes who both claim to have had near-death experience driving around looking for ‘portals,’ is so over the top and unashamedly dramatic, often it’s LOL time. Produced by Nick Groff of the Ghost Adventures team, who really should know better, it was a dismal failure and I’d be surprised if it is ever renewed for a second season. Instead of stalking ghosts, the two protagonists spend all their time huddled in dark corners talking about their feelings. My favourite line of the entire show was when Chad the wimpy wannabe-surfer dude suddenly started openly grieving for his dead pooch and dropped the immortal line, “It’s weird being human.”
My Haunted House
Rather than using the investigation format, this show used a mixture of interviews and dramatic re-enactments. It’s basically common knowledge that it’s all made up. Even the interviewees are actors, and they are reading scripts. You know what, though? Once you acknowledge that, and accept that My Haunted House is basically a collection of some excellent horror stories, the show gets a whole lot better. If you are looking for serious investigations into the paranormal, best look elsewhere, but this isn’t such a bad way to while away a few hours.
My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera
Another show mixing ‘eyewitness’ testimony in the shape of interviews interspersed with dramatic re-enactments and video footage this one syndicated through the Biography channel, which at least offered a veneer of legitimacy. Six seasons and 75 episodes after it premiered in 2010 it was shelved. A sad loss.
The Haunting of…
A famous person. Any famous person. I love American TV. Whatever they do, they do it well. Sporting events, chat shows, drama. How can you not appreciate Breaking Bad? I remember when I was a kid watching Miami Vice, then coming back down to earth with a bump with The Bill. The trouble is, after a while most American shows revert to a tried-and-tested formula. It’s fine at first, but then it gets predictable. In this case, a celebrity who claims to have had a paranormal experience revisits the scene of the occurrence with a psychic in tow. There is usually some personal trauma they have to confront and conquer along the way, they invariably cry about it, then everyone goes home better people. Boring.
Featuring Jack Osbourne in his goth phase as a spoiled rich kid who goes out looking for thrills with his friends. Give credit where it’s due, Jack always seemed to be able to manufacture a situation where he would be left alone somewhere dark and scary with a hot chick. Not even that could disguise the fact that this show was shit.