You don’t have to be Peter Venkman to know that paranormal is popular. Some of the most-watched shows on cable television revolve around elements of fear and the unknown – be it ghosts, creepy psychic teens, or a fire in the sky. Over the years, TV execs have tapped into this fascination with gripping, sensationalized, paranormal programming. I’ve found the following shows to be a disembodied head and shoulders above the rest:
If you know ghost shows, then you know Jason and Grant. Since 2004, the crew of the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) has explored the darkened corners and dusty confines of some of America’s most haunted establishments. Sure, these dads aren’t proving the existence of an afterlife or even proving anything really but, gosh darnit, every hour I spend with those guys is an hour well-spent. Perhaps that’s why Ghost Hunters, now in its 8th season, is the longest-running reality show on Syfy.
Ryan Buell takes ghost-hunting very seriously. At times, the stoic, seldom-smiling host of Paranormal State seems more haunted than the houses he investigates. It’s that seriousness which is both terrifying and intriguing. Mostly because it underscores the fact that Ryan and the rag-tag crew of Penn State’s Paranormal Research Society (PRS) might actually believe in ghosts they are hunting. Unlike other shows in the genre, Paranormal State gives more focus to the human and research elements of their cases, making episodes more like mini-documentaries than thrillers.
Syfy warns viewers against watching Paranormal Witness alone and, no lie, this show almost scared the bejesus out of me. Maybe it was the reenactments or perhaps it was the fact that I was watching in the dark – what ever the reason, this show was terrifying. Paranormal Witness is cinematic to the core, combining drama and lore with documentary-style narratives.
Sure, the producers of Ghostly Encounters probably need to hire a new graphics guy. And, while they’re at it, they probably need to get a new host, too. Everything else though, from the first-hand ghost stories to the reenactments and set design (or lack thereof) is totally engaging. Oh, and every one speaks in a Canadian accent – which is, of course, just the icing on the cake.
The Dead Files
The Dead Files turn the classic psychic investigative show on its head with a tormented medium (Amy) and a retired New York City homicide detective (Steve). This team is like the Turner and Hooch of ghost shows! The best part of The Dead Files, however, is in the different “investigation” tactics. Whereas Steve resorts to his professional training, Amy relies on what appears to be a mild form of spirit possession. It’s kind of awkward – and utterly amazing.