Is it just me, or has basic cable been completely taken over by ghosts lately? No, I don't mean those fuzzy double images that show up during a rainstorm for those of you with rabbit ears or satellite.
I'm talking about the real thing here, as in things that go bump in the night. Disembodied spirits. The undead. You know, ghosts...
I'm not sure exactly where the trend of all these geeks running around with thermal cameras and electro-magnetic field measuring devices started, but lately it seems you can't turn on the TV without seeing a bunch of guys sitting in a dark room someplace — usually captured in glorious black and white — checking out such paranormal activity as shadows, creaking floors and headlights outside in the driveway.
Okay, I'll admit I'm not being completely fair here.
Some of what you see and hear on these shows is mildly interesting, and occasionally even somewhat compelling. More often however, you see these "investigators" jumping out of their skins and screaming "paranormal" pretty much whenever their equipment picks up a fly on the window.
The bottom line is reality TV is out, and unreality TV is in. These shows are freaking everywhere these days — it doesn't even have to be Halloween.
But the granddaddy of the bunch has to be the Ghost Hunters franchise on the SyFy channel. Before these guys spawned this lucrative enterprise, head honchos Jason and Grant were a couple of schmoes working for Roto Rooter. These days, the SyFy channel has become home to an empire that in addition to the original Ghost Hunters show, now includes Ghost Hunters International and the soon-to-be-launched Ghost Hunters Academy.
For my money though, Ghost Hunters also rides head and shoulders above the rest of this increasingly crowded paranormal pack on basic cable. As head investigators of T.A.P.S. (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), Jason and Grant largely approach their investigations both scientifically and with an open and even semi-skeptical mind. I like that.
These guys basically know their stuff, and using their nuts-and-bolts knowledge of things like pipes and drains gained through working their day jobs at Roto Rooter, they are actually able to quickly debunk a lot of the creaking floors and such they encounter while investigating alleged haunted houses.
The other thing that impresses me about these guys is the way their team of investigators painstakingly go through hours of everything their assorted video and audio gadgetry catches on these investigations. If it were me, I'd be bored stiff. So if nothing else, sifting through all of this "evidence" the way these guys do demonstrates both a dedication and a seriousness towards what they do that I have yet to see from any of the other para-wannabes that have followed in their wake.