Ghost Hunters International 1.23: "Karosta Prison"

This season of GHI has been running on and off for about a year, and it's been quite the journey. In my opinion, it's been a steady process of improvement. As much fun as it was to have so many well-known ex-TAPS members on the show in its earliest incarnation, the team chemistry was questionable and their methods were sloppy and reactive.

Losing those members was nothing but good for GHI. Not because I hold anything against those individuals, since I found them fun to watch, but rebuilding the team gave Robb a chance to emerge as a stronger leader with a hand-picked team. I still believe that there's a certain level of producer interference in the team construction; I can't fathom any other justification for adding Joe Chin to the team. Dustin seems like a much better fit with Robb and Barry than Andy was, personality-wise, and the lack of inter-personal conflicts has been apparent.

Speaking of Barry, I continue to believe that he's a much better investigator than the editors usually bother to show, even if he does buy into some questionable theories and assumptions. While team dynamic is certainly important as the foundation for the group's growing success, Barry's technical creativity gives this team an edge that TAPS has been sorely lacking of late. Even if the principles behind the tech are a bit sketchy, and Barry is given little time to explain his reasoning, it's great to see someone trying to use actual instrumentation and equipment, rather than the latest gimmick of the week. ("Paranormal State", I'm looking at you.)

Between the strong group dynamic and the experimentation, GHI is doing exactly what TAPS originally set out to do. They also seem to be more engaged in debunking "evidence", which has been one of the main criticisms against TAPS in recent years. It's also interesting to note that GHI is mostly criticized for being, on occasion, a bit too influenced by personal experiences. They haven't been dogged by endless rumors of falsification, and they certainly haven't had an incident like the infamous "collar" debacle from the recent "Ghost Hunters" Halloween special.

It's worth mentioning the key differences, both in terms of strengths and weaknesses, because this was not the best investigation to close out the season. There was little to no debunking, little to no use of innovative approaches, and a whole lot of personal experiences and illogical theories. In other words, all of the things that play to the critics and naysayers.

Given the location, it's hardly shocking that they picked up stray voices and noises in the background. There were some odd noises captured that matched the client's reports, but there was no on-screen attempt to find or consider natural sources. And while I understand that Dustin is only repeating what a lot of EVP researchers contend in terms of this "universal" theory, it seems a lot more likely (given how faint these "voices" are) that it's mostly pattern recognition.

In terms of the "evidence", there just wasn't much to see or hear, and that was disappointing. More concerning, however, is the announcement that Angela will be leaving the team. Angela wasn't the most knowledgeable member of the team, but she provided some much needed balance. Considering how strong the team chemistry was becoming, I'm wary of yet another change for the second season. Of course, given the travel demands, it might be unavoidable.

GHI will be taking a bit of a hiatus now, so that the flagship for the franchise can kick off its fifth season. It will be interesting to see if TAPS has learned anything from their international cohorts, or if fans are in for more of the same.


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