Sunday, July 29, 2012

What I'm Watching...Paranormally Speaking...

Paranormal television is a hot business these days. A number of the cable networks are producing most of the shows out there. It seems that every season a new series is added to the ever growing list. Most who have read my blog know about my fascination with the world of the paranormal. Having had my own experiences, I am a believer in the apparitional realm(s). I am a watcher of several of the shows available to viewers, but not all. Most of them are rife with sensationalism, something I have written about before. Some have been so obviously fake that it’s laughable (the British series “Most Haunted” being the first to come to mind). Most employ creepy background music and sound effects that are meant to add to the creep factor. What these background noises actually do is cheese me off because they cover up anything we should be able to attempt to hear when someone says “Did you hear that?!” In the majority of cases, I would say it’s an attempt to create an eerie vibe when there is none to be had. It’s just one of a few tricks of the paranormal TV trade.

If you look online, you’ll encounter those who believe the paranormal encounters on a show are valid, and those that call the investigations fake. Everyone has their opinion. I have my own about the show’s I watch. I tend to revisit the ones that seem to be relatively legit. I say “seem to” because how do you really know unless you are there? EVP’s, apparitions, objects moving…seeing what appears to be an actual paranormal event on television can be compelling. Hearing what is supposedly an actual EVP is fascinating (EVP/electronic voice phenomenon = recording of sounds/voices that aren’t audible to the human ear), but actually being in the moment…feeling what the investigators and witnesses are feeling…seeing paranormal events…the way things are conveyed is the key to a decent paranormally based television show. 

Which ones do I actually watch? Well, that list isn’t very long. There are a few that I watch every now and again when there is nothing else on (“A Haunting”, and “Paranormal State” to name a couple.) Then there is my rather short list of regular ghostly viewings that I watch each week. The four shows I am about to mention are the bulk of what I currently watch.

“Paranormal Witness” is on the SyFy Network, and it is well worth seeing. These stories are not for the faint of heart, as they are beefier and edgier than the majority of what’s out there. The second season of this spooky series premieres on Wednesday, August 8th, at 10:00PM/EST. I have marked my calendar. “Paranormal Witness” is the first of the two shows on my list that are based on witness testimony and re-enactments. Unlike other re-enactment shows (“The Haunted”, “A Haunting”) the production values are one of the best I have seen on a show of its type. Maybe due to bigger budgets, or better creative resources, each episode of the first season had an unsettling vibe that was so welcome. They use actors instead of witnesses (having the ‘victims’ of the actual events act out what they went through is a recipe for a dull show…they aren’t actors by any stretch, and their faked fear is not effective…at all.) I don’t know about you, but I like my ghost stories to have a certain amount of eerie punch. “Paranormal Witness” doesn’t disappoint. I am pretty confident that the new season will be as good, or maybe even better than the first. I am certain they will re-air the first season leading up to the second season premiere, but you can also find full episodes of this show by visiting the official show site: If you dig shows of this genre, this one is a must see.

The second show on my list that’s based on the witness testimony and re-enactment format is “School Spirits”. It can also be found on the SyFy Channel, with the season finale “Frat House Phantom” airing Wednesday, at 10:00 PM/EST. Created by Mark Burnett of “Survivor” fame, and produced by Julie Insogna and Seth Jarett creators of “Celebrity Ghost Stories”, “School Spirits” is based on stories of school hauntings as re-told by students, faculty, and alumni. Here the production values are also of the higher variety. In regards to the structure and content, it is approached with a pen rather than the crayon employed by lesser productions. It is both dramatic and eerie, actors being used in the re-enactments here, as well. As with “Paranormal Witness”, I don’t feel like I have wasted an hour like other shows of the genre. It’s spooky and engaging, two elements that make “School Spirits” a show worth watching. SyFy re-airs episodes here and there, but you can also find full episodes at the site: Recommend it.

(John Zaffis)
Now my regular views switch to the investigative vein, with SyFy’s “Haunted Collector”. Well known in the paranormal field for close to 40 years, lead investigator, John Zaffis, is a researcher, demonologist, and nephew to Ed and Lorraine Warren (the Warrens are best known for their investigative work on the infamous Amityville case). Zaffis and his crew are contacted by people having paranormal troubles, and they investigate. Zaffis has a more unique approach to investigations. His experience is that many hauntings can be attached to specific objects, the theory being if you are able to locate the object and remove it from the site, the hauntings will hopefully cease. Zaffis has consulted all over the world during his years in the paranormal field, and has thousands of haunted items in his eerie museum in Stratford, CT. One famous item is a statue of the Virgin Mary (the hands are missing; they were supposedly melted off during an exorcism) from the Snedeker Case that he worked on with the Warrens. The feature film “The Haunting in Connecticut” (2009) is based on this particular case. I have seen some footage of the inside of Zaffis’ museum, and the collection is quite impressive. Visitors are said to feel eerie energy from the moment they enter the rooms.  I can believe it.

(Zaffis Museum of the Paranormal, Stratford, CT)

(Left to right: John Zaffis, Aimee Zaffis, Chris Zaffis, Jason Gates,
Brian Cano, and Beth Ezzo)
The other members of Zaffis’ team are Chris Zaffis his son (Investigator & Tech), Aimee Zaffis his daughter (Investigator & Researcher), Brian Cano (Tech Specialist), Jesslyn Brown (Investigator), Jason Gates (Investigator & Researcher), and Beth Ezzo (Psychic Investigator). Investigation shows on the whole can annoy me, due to some team members constantly talking, ruining any chances to hear anything. Couple that with injected music and sound effects, and that show will get tossed on my reject pile pretty quickly. Not the case with “Haunted Collector”. The team is always calm, and professional compared to teams on other shows. They always try to find scientific explanations for events before calling them paranormal. Each case ends with an item being located.  Zaffis then adds it to his museum as all clients ask him to. They can always get the item back if removing it from the premises doesn’t help things. Every case so far, it has. “Haunted Collector” is in it’s second season, and airs Wednesday, at 9:00 PM/EST.  You can watch full episodes on the official site:

(Steve DiSchiavi)
The Travel Channel’s “Dead Files” is the final show on my short list. This is a paranormal investigation show with a twist. Steve DiSchiavi is a retired homicide detective who conducts the first part of the investigation. He meets with the client to get the explanation of events. He then questions all relevant sources (past owners, neighbors, etc.), and researches past history of a site. Enter the other half of the investigation team, physical medium Amy Allan. Prior to her arrival at the site, her assistant of sorts, Matt Anderson, goes in and removes or covers all pictures so as not to lead Amy in her psychic impressions. Matt then accompanies her in while she walks the site at night.  There is a camera man with them, but Matt video tapes her, as well, asking salient questions as they move through the site. Steve and Amy do not communicate during the investigation, only divulging their findings to each other at the reveal with the client. It is then that Amy gives the client advice as to how to proceed with their situation. I find this show compelling, and find Amy Allan seemingly credible. You can find recaps of the episodes on the official site, but unfortunately it looks as though they do not have full episodes available: I recommend keeping an eye out for re-airs of this one. “Dead Files” regular night is Fridays, at 10:00 PM/EST.
(Amy Allan)
The above are my regular four viewing choices to feed my paranormal TV requirements each week. All are compelling viewing. Do I think all of the stories are true? Do I think all of the investigators are legit? As someone with an open mind, I think anything is possible. As I mentioned, I have had experiences of my own.  Maybe that allows me to look at things with a different perspective. I do think that there are logical scientific explanations for a lot of things, but I also believe that the paranormal does exist. Whatever you feel about the paranormal, I find these shows entertaining. A quality I look for in most everything I watch...don't you? 

No comments:

Post a Comment