Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Autopsy: Ghost Hunters Show
I get a huge number of people lamenting to me that they quit watching "Ghost Hunters" about season 3, 4, 5....
Let's dissect the carcass that "Ghost Hunters" has become and figure out the disease process.
The premise of the show went something like this, "a couple of average work-a-day plumbers have a secret life at night, chasing down paranormal phenomena in search of answers. They are so possessed by this mission that they've parked a trailer out front for their team to work in and pissed away the kids' college funds much to their wives' irritation."
Cause of death: Boredom, routine. The show likely would have survived had it changed and adapted, but instead they brought in celebrities for ghost hunts and shifted around their team way too many times. Ultimately, it was the repetition of their hunts that began to take on a very stale feel. We can all predict that any given season the will go to a theater and a museum, a house and an historic site. They will also pair up Jason and Grant, Steve and Tango and the two "newbies." They will try the flashlight test, they will talk to their KII meter, and they will wander around while Steve pontificates about the history of the site and Jason makes vague mentions of how the place feels. The most exciting new change is Maddie the dog, but she can't possibly make up for the total doldrums (even as cute as she is).
What happened to the body systems of this entity we call "Ghost Hunters" show?
Motivation: It's hard to have any show with characters whose motivation is unclear. Jason and Grant seemed possessed enough to do the unpopular thing and spend their free nights in search of answers about the paranormal and yet, by never letting us in on the reason behind the fire in their bellies, we were left with leaders who were weak and dispossessed. The first shows, I appreciated hearing Jason's wife rag on him for the expense and time away from the family. I would like to have had them just set Jason down to tell they story of what he is looking for and why, even if they had to take him back to the scene of the earlier crime that sparked it. Anyone in ghost hunting understands that those seeking answers had something extraordinary happen to them. In this case, you have two plumbers with a lot of kids between them spending their nights wandering dark places in search of ghosts and none of it adds up. They didn't engage us in their personal quest. Huge sin.
Cast: Brian was handled poorly and much to his embarrassment. I think they paraded that whole mess out for the public to real in viewers who want to see the drama more than the hunting. Donna was "let go" without any explanation, just a vague mention of her health issues and she evaporated like she never existed. When members got stale, they sent them off to Europe with GHI. For a team that could pick anyone in the nation to join them, they bring in Kris who seems to have neither experienced the paranormal or had a burning desire to chase it, but they had a pretty new member to make the team seem a bit less misogynist. She has zero personality and whines like a little girl with a flat affect. Steve is mechanical at best and Tango just keeps his trap shut. So, we have a cast that makes none of us connect with them or their desires and motivations whatsoever. It may be "reality" TV but the same principles apply--we must hate someone and we must love someone and then we are rooting for them, wanting to see what happens to them, sharing in their experience.
Too Big For Their Britches: It's a capitalistic society and when two plumbers with lots of kids between them get a TV show, they decide to parlay that to the max while the subject is still hot. Not a bad decision, but growing too big when you haven't any experience in that realm makes you real vulnerable to failure or overextending yourself. The guys got a new shop, new magazine, gave talks and hosted hunts around the US, went on TV interviews, radio interviews, bought an inn in New England. Remember Jon and Kate Plus 8? It started out with a couple of regular folks in the suburbs who were struggling with way too freaking many kids in a tract house. We could relate to their exhaustion and their schedules and space issues. Pretty soon, they were getting plastic surgery, moving to a large sprawling estate, being hosted at fancy vacations and they lost us completely. Jumped the shark. The episode where J&G bought and inn, had the GHI team come in to determine it's haunted (convenient for business when their show is finally canceled) and then sped off on a couple of snow mobiles was the moment I knew it was over and I quit watching. Suddenly all their motivations changed from researching ghost phenomena to turning a profit.
No doubt, Syfy has had no luck with a good paranormal shows lately, so GH might get more seasons yet, but I really don't know where their viewership is coming from because everyone I know quite watching some time ago. It's time for new blood. New approaches. The viewers are just too smart and adaptable to settle for the same old, "give us a sign of your presence" and "turn the light on, please."
And, if they plan to continue this show any longer, please get a woman on the show. No, not a girl-woman with a soft voice, passive manner and zero personality. Amy and Kris are two of the most watered down girl-women ever. Get a real woman who could go toe-to-toe with Jason and question their methods and stir things up! Even so, it'd still just be CPR because this patient doesn't have much of a life expectancy.
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