Ghost Hunters International 1.20: "Unknown Soldiers"

It's been about a year since the debut of the GHI concept, and twenty episodes into the series, the only original team members are Robb and Barry. In that relatively short span of material and time, the series has undergone some interesting changes. The team itself is an odd amalgam of Robb's friends and ex-"Ghost Hunters" cast members, which harkens back to the idea behind the original lineup, but there's a growing sense of identity for this crew. They're not just TAPS wannabes (as some naysayers would attest).

Robb and Barry have been the backbone of the team, and it's interesting to see how they've changed over the past year. I think it speaks tremendously to the power of editing and the tendency in reality TV to create "characters". Robb has been portrayed from day one as the steady leader, and I think they've let his personality remain intact, warts and all.

Barry, on the other hand, seems to have been the victim of "character creation". As early as his first appearances on "Ghost Hunters", he was portrayed as the skittish buffoon, more cowardly than his American colleagues, and befuddled by a stereotypical belief in fairies and folklore. That portrayal continued into the early episodes of GHI, especially in deference to the former TAPS members on the team (Brian, Donna, and Andy).

A strange thing has happened over the past year, however. The producers might have noticed that Barry, as one of the steadfast team members, has earned the right to a more balanced characterization. So now, while his tendency to overreach with assumptions and overreact to noises remains true to form, his actual intelligence and creativity is included. While I might quibble with his science and his theories on a regular basis, I think his approach is something that has been lacking from TAPS for quite some time. I'd rather have an investigator try something new than see a team go through the motions.

With Andy now long since gone to the home front, Barry has stepped into the role as debunker with a surprisingly strong showing. This episode is a great example of that, but the past few episodes have provided examples. He's not perfect, by any means, and he makes some odd mistakes and misinterpretations on a regular basis. But he's no longer the skittish clown that he was portrayed to be when he first appeared on American airwaves.

Case #1: Clark Hospital, Philippines

This is one of those cases where I completely understand why the team comes to the conclusion that the location is haunted. From their perspective, a lot was happening that they couldn't explain, and it matched the reports from the client. That always carries more weight for me than accumulation of random "evidence". Show me that there's some basis for the client's claims, and that's as good a situation an investigator can get.

That said, I'm not convinced that the EVPs were particularly impressive. As usual, they were largely buried in the background noise or open to interpretation. Similarly, the lights could have been real without granting them some kind of paranormal origin. A thorough evaluation of the geology of the area, the building materials, and the possibility of static or piezoelectric discharge would need to be conducted to dismiss those standard scientific explanations.

So it came down to the personal experiences, which will never convince the skeptical audience that anything happened. But as objective as they might attempt to be on their better days, a constant stream of unexplained sights and sounds will break down resistance. If nothing else, that's exactly the kind of location that an investigator wants to visit!

Case #2: Diplomat Hotel, Philippines

On the other hand, from a personal perspective, this is the kind of case I like to see. And this is the case where Barry had his chance to shine. While a lot of investigators might have noticed the cell towers in the proximity, I doubt they would have understood the fu


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