Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: "Fact or Faked"

(Enjoy--two for the price of one, or is that four for the price of one? Well, Dale horned in with my gal and me)

The newest episode of "Fact or Faked" picked two interesting cases; ghost writing on photographs and a sea monster in PA. In their usual manner, they interviewed the eyewitnesses at the lake where the monster was photographed and seen. Then, they checked to see if logs could reproduce the look of it. When that didn't work, they built a sea monster and floated him and took photos from a distance. Now, before you beat them up for building a monster just to prove that it was too much work for a local to put into a prank, they had to do it to show us if it looked similar and it did, but not 100%. So, off to inspect the lake from underneath with sonar and then some nighttime diving. The determination was that it was unexplained...

Next, someone thinks something paranormal is happening in their house. When they take Polaroid pictures, words are etched on them. They were told there is a body under their house by a psychic. There is a vortex in the house supposedly. The team decided to use the camera and try taking pics towards the vortex area. When they got nothing, they tried some techniques to recreate it on the film. Their experiment didn't work out. Then, they decided to try and recreate the video of ghost writing. They erected some plexiglass and put some writing on it and did Polaroids and videotaped. They found the plexiglass was too bright and reflective. Now, they decided to look under the house with ground penetrating radar to find the supposed body buried there. They actually found some bones and they were...cow and chicken. So, they studied the credibility of the people ultimately when they couldn't recreate how it was done. The voice analysis showed credibility. So, this was...unexplained.

Okay, so let's break it down. I still like the premise and am excited by disputing viral videos. Part of me wants them to sit back in their seats and pull a Joel McHale "The Soup" on them and just throw popcorn at the screen and mock the vids, but then I'm a huge fan "MST 3000."

That said, I'm still waiting for someone to break an expression, get a personality, and get ruffled. It's the Martha Stewart versus Julia Roberts syndrome. What is that, you ask? Martha is flawless, self-conscious, immaculate, constantly circumspect. Julia is, well, spontaneous, bursts into laughter, trips over things, willing to burp and look crazy. Who do we like better? Who do we identify with? Who is lovable? Yeah, it's kinda like that. We compare the show to "Mythbusters" but the fact is Jaime and Adam are wicked awesome with personalities and their gang is too. They love what they do and you can't imagine them doing anything else, same with "Destination Truth" and Josh Gates and "Ghost Hunters" with its grumpy pants, Jason.

If I'm recasting the show? I'm cool with Ben. He's smart, he's calm, he's a steady voice. I'd keep Bill because he's sassy and enthusiastic and rough around the edges and smart. I'd dump both of the expressionless women who don't seem to add anything to the mix but a low level of anxiety. I'd get rid of the guy who looks too much like Ben. He confuses the hell out of me. I'd add a brassy woman who is assertive and doesn't accept answers and I'd add a middle-aged man who is excited like a kid about everything and gullible. Hey, I'm casting this make-believe redo, you design your own version. We need some confrontational personalities because, honestly, when we see these videos online, we laugh and sometimes we defend the videos to the end as being genuine. I want that water cooler banter going on. I want to know where they stand before they investigate and challenge each other to prove or disprove. Right now, they are just too freaking polite, calm, and self-conscious. I don't have any doubt with one season of "seasoning" they will get the formula right. I saw this with lots of other SyFy hits.

QUIZ: Was it Bill or Ben who went in search of the sea monster?


  1. It was Ben who didn't find the sea monster or did he? Maybe he found it but wont let us know? Its a conspiracy!

    Old Ray is a log. The photo looks more like a bear and a log to me than a sea serpent.

    Ghost writing? You take your fingernail and write something before the picture develops. Works great at parties and you scribble in your phone number (evil grin).

    Come on guys! This could be such a good show.


  2. I thought the monster could have been faked...I thought both the log and their constructed 'monster' looked pretty good. The original picture was blurry, Jael's weren't. If Jael's pictures were blurry, they may have looked even more similar. I guess it just really boils down to whether or not you believe the eyewitness testimony.

    Oh, and Ben searched for the sea monster. And don't get rid of Jael!!!

    The ghost writer investigation was very interesting. I was glad they did the experiment with the glass, because I was wondering if that might have been how it was done. They couldn't duplicate it though, and they seemed generally surprised when they got the white blobs on their photos. And although the voice analysis indicated the homeowner was being truthful, I thought the most suspicious part were the bones. What are the odds that a cow and chicken bone would be found in the spot where the homeowner claimed a psychic said a body was buried? Could they have been planted there on purpose? Why would a cow and a chicken bone be under their house? I guess its possible a dog or some other kind of animal may have dragged them under there, but I still thought it was a little suspicious -- especially since they were found in the spot the owner said to look. I figured when they found only two or three bones and cut to commercial that they would come back and say they were animal bones.

  3. Barry;
    So, I'm getting from you that you wish they'd pick cases that aren't off the bat so easy to dispute? I admit the sea monster one surprised me that they picked it because that was just too easy, but the ghost writing was a perfect one because we all see that stuff on the internet and wonder just how they did this fake.

    They wouldn't get rid of Jael. Considering how much attention she gets by the camera and comparing that with her worth on the team, we all know why she's there. I really liked her on DT, but that's because she could interpret and then climb a rock face or something and not talk. I didn't think the bones were buried there--the ground was freaking hard, but I also know that in older homes like the one I grew up in, the kitchen was added on afterwards and there is a lot of kitchen trash tossed outside the door and it ends up being in the crawlspace later on, and as well dogs have a very strong tendency to find a place to bury these things. As a ghost hunter, I have to say I absolutely positively know those photos are faked. That the voices didn't show it is ridiculous because I have had a lie detector test in the past and answered 100% truthfully "no" to a question that there wasn't even one tiny bit of doubt in my mind it was "no" and I failed on the question that I had no reason to be evasive about at all, so I know this technology is limp. I was most disappointed that after getting a few shots with a glowing haze to them, they gave up trying an experiment that they knew worked in another location. Still, they are taking a lot of the logical pathways to find the truth, I think it's just the way they do that is awkward yet, but as I said--it's very very early in the series. These things work out over time.

  4. By the time I remembered it was on, it was half over. Watched that photo half with a yawn. Underfunded, unimaginative methods of recreation and takes itself waaay too serious. Won't be back.

  5. MM;
    (pout) I want you to watch it and talk to me about it even if you're giving it a big thumbs down, I want to hear why. Admittedly, instead of the clean little brat pack of Breakfast Clubbers, I'd like to see them just have a couple of regular guys (Ben and Bill, hint hint) who run the show and then bring in experts who change every week, like a photography dude for the photo one, a Loch Ness researcher for the monster one...something like that. I always get the feeling that there is a technical person behind the scenes telling them how to do experiments and they actually don't know how to scratch words on Polaroids or build monsters. I'm still not sold on their expertise yet. At least Jaime and Adam have a collective shitload of years of experience when they rig bombs into cement trucks and such. hee hee

  6. Pretty cool. I missed the show but will have to check it out.

  7. I agree with the whole personality thing. I think I liked Jael better on Destination Truth.

    I think one of my biggest pet peeves with this show is the whole two cases per episode thing. I think when they have a case that is sort of complicated, they should dedicate an entire episode to figuring it out. Like the whole Ghost Writing photos. I've seen this story circulate around the internet and media for a few years. I was interested in seeing what they could do with it. Was totally disappointed with their investigation. It all seems a bit rushed. If one experiment fails, they don't take the time to figure out why like their double exposure test. They just move on to the next one.

    Then there's the witnesses. Do they ever meet a witness they don't believe?

  8. Andrea;
    Yeah, they need a psychic on the team to weed out those witnesses. I'm actually in the other camp. I'd rather see them spend the whole time just looking at videos and disproving them with a heated discussion and then if one of them can't prove it with logic, recreate it. I think 2 cases is just toooooo slow for me. I will put the problems with the show where they truly belong; editing/directing and casting. The show is a fantastic premise, very hip, very timely, just what we talk about in the office when we get people forwarding us links to stupid shit. If they want it to be a group of college-like kids sitting around in a dorm and contemplating it, that might actually be a better presentation because if they want us to believe they're investigators, they need some seriously seasoned and rough around the edges types cause we (my intelligent followers) know that experts come in well-worn cans.

  9. i thought the ghost writing was interesting, & i like that they went so far trying to disprove it. you're right, it is a new show, & like anything new it has kinks, but i think it'll come...*fingers crossed*!

  10. Libby-Girl;
    I can't sit through any shows anymore, but this one does actually get me watching the whole thing. I think in my mind what I would do next and it's fun to just see them tear stuff apart, but unfortunately I think a lot of this stuff will be inconclusive in the end and unexplained.

  11. Aut - Case in point on lack of expertise: The Asain woman claimed to have photographic experience, yet she held the clear plastic material on the polaroid with only her hands, then was surprised at the light that leaked onto the final photo. I know they had a test polaroid that worked, but the film exposure method and "dark room" were fallible. They set themselves up for failure and didn't have the forsight to see it. I am no expert and saw through that. Show me come common sense.

  12. MM;
    You always make me laugh and your picture makes me want to tickle you under your hairy arms. Humor aside, yeah, I get what you're saying. It reminds me of in my modeling days when I unfortunately hung out with other underfed models. We were walking around the mall, waiting for cameras to get ready to film for TV and we came across a wooden sawhorse set up to block people from walking where the floor was wet. The unnamed model stopped beside me and studied it with a frown.
    "What?" I asked her.
    "Looks like a roadblock." She sighed.
    "I looked around at the 20 feet of open area beside the sawhorse and looked at her again as if I were missing something.
    "We can still go."
    "Oh, I don't break rules. I'm in enough trouble as it is." She turned and walked away.
    I stared at the sawhorse and wondered if she would survive the shoot because at some point, the runway would end and what would she do then?

  13. Yup harder cases to solve. Spend more time and resources to solve the easy ones.

    Mix in a minute or so before commercials with Ben narriating quick debunks of historical fakes (old photos, etc), obvious debunks of modern videos, and updating old episodes (for example the night crawler was a bird).

    More interactivity by allowing the fans to pick certain videos to be investigated next season.

    Just to name a few things ...

  14. Barry;
    Seriously, you and I producing this show and it'd fly, huh? I like what you're saying. I almost want to take a room and set up a large screen, let a bunch of experts in criminology, video, psychics, special effects experts, etc., just come in and sit down like they're in some kind of freaky field test. Let them sit there and watch the film and then begin a discussion amongst them of why it's fact or faked and let them argue. Hell, lock in the room and make them duke it out...

  15. Yup an Autumn Bear Production !