Friday, June 17, 2011

Have Paranormal TV Shows Finally Jumped The

Bagans works his swagger

Premiering tonight on the Travel Channel, Paranormal Challenge stars manga-haired Zak Bagans as the host of TV's most unlikely game show reality competition.  Two teams are ostensibly sent forth into a haunted location to gather the most evidence of paranormal phenomena. The findings of each team is then judged by a panel that includes Bagans and three other "nationally recognized paranormal experts".

Almost imperceptibly over the past few years, paranormal programs have sold their souls to the devil of ratings, sacrificing what marginal respect they may have once possessed. And they've taken much criticism for their efforts. However, now we've reached a new low that must exist somewhere between Dante's 8th and 9th circles: reality competition shows. Is this paranormal TV's jump-the-shark moment?

I would have thought the death knell was rung when well-supported claims of trickery were levied against Ghost Hunters.  But you can't keep a good fan down. The show plowed on, quite nicely too. Had it not, we mightn't be in this situation. I suppose for the casual, LOL! OMG! That's so funny! viewer it's not a big deal. But for many, researching the paranormal is important to them and they take it seriously. When it all becomes a game, respect falters and it then becomes that much harder for these men and women to pursue their goals. Imagine trying to persuade property owners of a much-coveted location that you're not just "messin' around" when, from their perspective, the proof is incontrovertible: Paranormal Challenge.


Autumnforest said...

I remember when ER came out and the doctors in the ER were complaining how unrealistic the show was. I, however, looked around me at the doctor who had married 5 nurses and was about to go for the sixth one, the paramedic and tech that made out in the break room and the dramatics amongst them and thought, "hey, this is real life." Well, the ghost shows kinda are real life too. Ghost hunters fight amongst themselves, totally screw up, get impatient, break up as often as rock bands. It's pretty much the same. The sad thing is that ER show did not demonstrate to doctors how to be doctors or practice medicine, but shows like Ghost Hunters gave hunters their techniques. They imitate them completely. It's rather terrifying. Yes, ghost shows are on their way out which is a shame because no one has done my idea for a show yet and I think it could turn the industry around. Hey, Syfy, you decide to not jump the megashark and I promise to share my show idea with you.

Cullan Hudson said...

I don't think any of these networks has yet to do the "right" paranormal show. The closest in my book is Fact or Faked. It's real investigation. They are at least eliminating possibilities and doing something. I don't think a paranormal show done the "right" way has to be a snooze-fest either. I'm not saying they have to show every excrutiatingly boring minute of a 6 hour ghost hunt or that interpersonal relationships can't form the basis for some drama. It just doesn't have to be Slutting with The Kardashians or The Real Housewives of Lunatic Asylum #8. Perhaps that drama can be more relatable: their struggles, doubts, fears, and hopes. And, if shot well by a talented DP, the production needn't rely on horror film staples like sudden cuts, dropped cameras, what-was-thats?, etc... It will take a production company that loves the subject and cares about instead of jumping on the paranormal bandwagon.