Saturday, March 14, 2015

Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Care If Ghost Hunters Comes Back

If you’re a follower of Ghost Hunters, you’ve noticed they’ve been missing from the increasingly-crowded televised ghost-show lineup for a few reality-show seasons now. It seems like the longest hiatus the show has ever had. In fact, there didn’t seem a time when Ghost Hunters wasn’t on the air unless one of their spinoffs or associate shows were bookmarking their spot for the summer.

I was a very early adopter of GH in 2004 and watched all the episodes for the first few years. They were refreshingly professional seeming (aside from the comic relief of Brian Harnois). I bought their books and oogled their ghost hunting gadgets sold for a time on the Sci Fi channel website. I even watched and wrote about how Ghost Hunters International fell short of the original show. I was there during Brian Hornois’ dramatic departures, kerfuffles with Andy Andrews,  Steve Gonsalves’s fear of all sorts of shit, Dave Tango'a rise to prominence, (he’s my personal favorite for his level-headedness but I was also there when the cast exposed his naivete with pranks early on), Amy Bruni’s baby, Kris Williams’ quiet awesomeness that took a season or two to warm up to, Britt Griffith,  Adam Berry, K.J. McCormick, Donna LaCroix, Dustin Pari, (and his injudicious use of backwards hats), Joe Chin, Barry Fitzgerald in the UK episodes and many others who came and went over the years.

Somewhere around 2007 or 2008 I started falling asleep through episodes. Part of this was just being dog tired at the time. But part of it was because the shows were becoming repetitive. However, by that time my husband was hooked. He didn’t miss an episode come hell or high water, even catching one episode on Hulu in 2010 on a laptop the week we moved to New Mexico and didn’t have our TV. 

Then we dropped cable for a time in 2013 and GH wasn’t available anymore on Hulu. What was up with that? First GH was on Hulu; then it wasn’t. Looking back, I wonder if GH wasn’t starting to slip under the weight of its behind-the-scenes goings on. 

Now, the show is forever lingering as a promise on Sci Fi’swebsite. The lineup seems fractured and release dates for the reboot have come and gone. No one seems to want to pull the plug.

I, for one, can live without more Ghost Hunters episodes. And here is why:

1.       Redundancy.
It’s hard to tell the shows apart anymore. When we look back and reminisce, they all run together. Has the show been on too long?

2.       Disturbing Departures. 
When Grant, one of the show’s founders, left in 2014 the shocking and mostly unexplained departure betrayed probable hidden conflicts within the cast.

3.       Subset of Disturbing Departures: All the Cool Girls Leave.
There have been great guys on the show, but the girls have been exceptional. They never squealed and shivered at spooks. They were confident, brave and smart. So why are they gone?

4.       Subset 2 of Disturbing Departures, Many Iterations of Jay’s Kids and Dogs.
Jay has attempted to replace the girl-gap with a rotation of his daughters (and one dog).  For some reason although these daughters seem confident and smart, it just feels like we’re getting more Jayness and not more girliness.

5.      Subset 3 of Disturbing Departures, the Very First Departure, Brian Hornois.
Actually, I don’t know who left first, Brian or Donna. They both left in 2007. But Donna left without much fanfare. Brian’s departure was a plot point on the show. He was clearly a point of pain and it’s easy to see why his erratic and undependable behavior necessitated his release from the series. However, to his credit, Brain did inject some life into the show every time he failed to correctly coil up an extension cord. He seemed to serve as some kind of personality catalyst for the rest of the cast. Without him, the show deflated a bit. Which brings us to…

6.       The Personality Problem.
The current menagerie of ghost story, ghost hunting, and ghost psychic shows are full to the brim with personality. New shows have goofy, hyper lead investigators (Zak Bagans), quirky angles (a cop and a physic who prescribes chaos magicians) , psychics aiding celebrities, hillbilly ghost hunters. I’m not saying the gimmick is alright. I’m just saying GH has lost what few charismatic players they had. Jay and Grant were a duo with personality. Jay and Steve Gonsalves are not. Jay alone is not. In comparison to other shows, the cast now seems bland. Professional is good. Bland is not.

7.       Spin Off Failures.
Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy didn’t last although the academy did give us Adam Berry who was an interesting addition at first. Remember the inn in New England that Jay and Grant purchased? Can this be turned into a spin off?

8.       The Credibility Issue.
Some ghost shows rely on personality. Some shows rely on trumped-up scares. It’s a hard line to walk. Ghost Hunters once had a bit of comedy and personality (with some on-the-air dramas). It seemed at some point in the last five years GH was going for more scares and less science. Then they seem to pull back. The show has always seemed to struggle with what kind of show does it want to be. In any case, both science and show credibility have suffered.

9.       Paltry Evidence of Research.
That inn in New England reminds me of a question that has been bugging me for years: why doesn’t anyone invest in a clearly haunted house and study that on TV for a few years? Why aren’t any eccentric Richie Rich’s investing in ghost research? They’re investing in alien research. Why not ghosts? After ten years and multiple ghost shows, have we any decent proof to show for ourselves? Something we can take on a TED talk? In fairness, it’s not really possible to judge televised research. The very format is deceptive. But we all pretend here, right? “It’s a TV show” is my husband’s favorite mantra. TV prevents me from ultimately taking anything seriously. So I’m pretending disappointment here with the repetitive evidence we’ve managed to accumulate over the last decade. Because it’s a TV show, this particular viewer is getting bored with “compelling EVPs.”

10.   Jay.
At the end of day, we’re left with Jay. God love him for hanging in there, but he’s too stern to lead, he’s not causal enough to narrate, and he needs a charismatic co-host to counter-balance his solid-guy Jayness. He once had a role to play: be the hard guy. He’s like your friend’s dad who is too serious and hard-ass so you never go over and play at their house. He wasn’t flexible enough to morph into a welcoming, friendly host. I’m led to believe Jay might have a serious life, so he’s a serious guy. But real life characters and TV characters are too different things. Jay needs Grant’s lightness to offset his Jayness.

So it probably goes without saying we all miss Grant. But I miss Brian too and his honest dishonesties, his “Run, Dude, Runs!” I miss Donna and Kris. I even miss announcer Mike Rowe. I miss the days when the show seemed somewhat more of a team and less of a Jay-logarchy. Jay has his strengths, (he’s organized, passionate, and definitely an influencer), but carrying the show on his back ain’t one of em. The problem with this show is that I miss too much. I miss more than they can likely replace.

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