Ghost Hunters International 1.22: "Ghosts in the City of Lights"

This is probably one of the best examples to use when discussing the format issues with the "Ghost Hunters" franchise. It's been said many times before, but it certainly applies now: the editors often try to cram two cases into one episode when they deserve a lot more attention. Not necessarily because there's powerfully convincing "evidence", but rather, just for the sake of the locations themselves.

After all, this is the international show, and part of the draw is the history and variety of locations available. Sure, most of them are castles, but that's par for the European course. Those appear to be the sites most available to shows of this nature. After all, when European shows visit the United States for an event, they don't go to somebody's house or the haunted inn down the street. They go to penitentiaries, hotels, and asylums. In other words, our short-term history's version of castles!

But this is as much a travel franchise as it is a paranormal investigation show these days. Even if a skeptic considers the investigation itself to be a crock and everything to be a fabrication, that "story" is being told at a specific location for a specific reason. When talking about something as infamous and fascinating as the Paris underground, covering a very small section in the space of about 10 minutes of total screen time is a travesty.

And, as noted in previous reviews, it's rather obvious that a location will have little or no "evidence" to speak of when the introduction to the case doesn't start until well into the second half of the hour. It's even worse when the team conducts some crafty debunking, and even that gets short shrift by the demands of the editing!

Case #1: Chateau Lagorce, France

It's amazing how much of the "evidence" in this case came from equipment that was noted as malfunctioning. Wouldn't data from malfunctioning equipment automatically be rendered suspect and invalid? Barry's pictures were moderately interesting, but considering the noted issues with the camera that night (and the rather mundane shape of the "mist"), I'm not sure that it was as strong a piece of "evidence" as presented.

The EVPs were also a bit sketchy. The one they interpreted as "This is mine" sounded more like "Is this working?" to me. Very different meanings, but more importantly, a sign that the EVP wasn’t nearly as clear as they thought it was. The rest were all equal to or buried within the background noise, which usually points to pattern recognition.

We can't speak to the personal experiences, of course, even if I'm convinced that the team is sincere. And I have yet to see reasons why I should doubt what they say is what they truly believe; they have yet to be saddled with the credibility questions that have dogged TAPS over the years. As I've said more times than I can count, I may disagree with the conclusions, but I can certainly understand why they felt the site was haunted.

Case #2: Capucins Quarries, France

The net effect of the editing is that the investigation almost feels incomplete and poorly managed. Of course, we know that's not true, because otherwise Dustin's inspired call on the chlorine gas wouldn't be there. Can we also give Dustin and Robb enormous credit for finally pointing out that the FLIR camera is most useful for finding unexpected drafts? On top of that, they did a great job with the audio analysis of the client's "evidence", and they provided compelling arguments for why the reported activity was not paranormal in origin. And they made a point to place boundaries on the applicability of their conclusion, which was a mixture of honesty and client management.

The bitter irony of this episode is that the case with the more rigorous approach and thoughtful debunking (and more interesting location) was sidelined for an investigation with more exciting "evidence", but far less convincing.


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