- BEEN THERE: Veteran Ghost Hunters Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango train the next generation of GH's in Ghost Hunters Academy.
For whatever reason, paranormal-themed reality shows have been popping up on cable like crabgrass recently, with results ranging from the interesting to the unintentionally hilarious. Given that Halloween is now a barely-remembered, candy-induced tummy-ache in the rearview mirror, I thought I'd give you a rundown of some of the new examples of the genre.
9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23
If there is an argument for why paranormal-themed reality shows should be wiped from the face of the earth, “Extreme Paranormal” is it. Following the adventures of three would-be spook hunters with a flair for the theatrical, it's an unintentional laff riot. The three guys involved, who look like they should be working at a Home Depot somewhere and who came to paranormal investigation through a radio show called “Ghost Man and Demon Hunter,” are always setting things on fire, cutting themselves to draw blood for dubious “rituals,” burying each other alive and playing with high voltage electricity. A couple weeks back, they went on – I kid you not – an underwater ghost hunt, flailing around at the bottom of a muddy lake shouting “SHOW YOURSELF!” into tinny microphones while a giant, Styrofoam, Christmas-light-bedecked “summoning circle” floated overhead. Now that's comedy, folks. This show might be funny if I didn't know for a fact that it's not some kind of ingenious, “Borat” style parody.
9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24
Before crapola like “Extreme Paranormal” turns you off to the whole supernatural reality genre, you might want to give “Ghost Lab” a gander. The show follows the Klinge Brothers of Texas, who run an outfit called Everyday Paranormal. It's actually one of the more level-headed examples of the genre. The “ghost lab” part of it comes into play via a 25-foot-long trailer stuffed full of nifty gadgets that the brothers drag from place to place. Though “Ghost Lab” suffers from a lot of the same pitfalls that most paranormal investigation shows and scientifically-driven paranormal investigation groups fall into (namely: untrained people “finding ghosts” using equipment that was never designed for that, and which no studies have ever shown can find proof of anything of the sort), it's still among the best of paranormal reality on TV. Above all, you get a real sense that the Klinges are passionate about what they do and serious about taking a scientific approach. No matter what you believe, you've got to appreciate that kind of dedication.
GHOST HUNTERS ACADEMY
8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25
“Ghost Hunters Academy” is the second spin-off for the popular, 5-year-old SyFy show “Ghost Hunters,” the first being “Ghost Hunters International,” which follows a group of ghost hunters on their globe-hopping sojourns to purportedly haunted spots all over the world. Like the original, both “Ghost Hunters International” and “Ghost Hunters Academy” err on the side of the scientific, using night vision cameras, digital recorders and instrumentation to try and find evidence of the paranormal. The gimmick for “Ghost Hunters Academy,” as you might expect, is that some of the guys from the original “Ghost Hunters” show set out to train a team of young investigators – read: photogenic and/or busty college students — in how to be paranormal investigators. With “Ghost Hunters” vets Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango acting as instructors, the team travels around in a blacked out RV, looking for teaching moments in the paranormal. Given that the always optimistic and witty Gonsalves and Tango are pretty much the best thing about SyFy's increasingly tired “Ghost Hunters” franchise, it looks like it might be interesting.