Ghost Hunters 5.21: "New Hampshire Gothic"

I was wondering how “Ghost Hunters” was going to fit all 25-27 episodes of the fifth season into this year, with “Ghost Hunters Academy” starting this week. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the two will be running at the same time. The franchise continues to gain momentum with higher ratings and new viewers, so why not double up, with “Destination Truth” on a break?

The ratings are no small matter. It proves the fact that paranormal investigation shows are still very popular and have yet to peak. The glut of new shows is further evidence. Naysayers have been trumpeting the impending doom of this franchise since the second season, and it just hasn’t happened.

Which makes all the complaints about the repetitive voiceovers about EVPs and EMF, among other things, a bit unnecessary. The usual mantra is that the explanations aren’t necessary, because everyone in the audience already knows the information and there aren’t any new viewers to bring up to speed. To the contrary, there are new viewers, so framing each episode as if it might be the first one someone watches is a sound (if annoying) strategy. (Keeping in mind, too, that episodes are often repeated and out of order, so every episode is a potential entry point for a future fan.)

This episode had a lot of minor but interesting aspects. Speaking very generally, I noticed two things. First, that the awkward insertion of a plug for “Ghost Hunters Academy” felt forced. It’s almost like they just wanted to get that over with and go on the case. It made me wonder if this whole “boot camp for a new member” idea was something they really wanted. As interesting as it sounds on paper, it does feel like something a network marketing drone would suggest.

The other thing I noticed, more than usual, was the look of absolute exhaustion on the part of the team, particularly Grant. The guy looked like he was two seconds from slapping himself awake on both investigations. I completely agree that the energy level has dropped since the beginning, when they weren’t investigating/filming all year long. It really seems to be getting to them. (And those who follow the team on Twitter know how much they run around.)

Speaking of which, I’ve noticed a trend among some critics of late, insulting the intelligence of the team and fans for using social networking sites. Not only are the users of such sites personally branded as childish and stupid, but every comment from TAPS is dissected for the purposes of personal insults and criticism of everything from grammar to the quality of his or her sense of humor.

Granted, TAPS has done themselves no favors by referring to their critics, even their calm and reasoned ones, as “idiots” in the past. They invite a certain level of payback. But I have never liked the “holier than thou” arrogance of some of the more vitriolic critics, the ones who look down on the dedicated fans for not thinking or believing as they do, and many of these comments fall into the same vein.

There was another incident of late that caught my attention. I was checking on a recent “watch party” thread on the TAPS 18+ forum when I noticed that a new member had come in, guns blazing. In particular, this was a critic of TAPS and the show, and this particular poster started off by criticizing the “quality” of the comments in the thread and the apparent trend of unfairly banning those who question TAPS. Despite a few warnings from long-time posters to that forum, this particular poster continued to attack, essentially throwing down a gauntlet and demanding that people serve up the kind of in-depth commentary he wanted.

This reminded me of similar posts on the Syfy Ghost Hunters forum, where there has been a recent run of TAPS supporters starting threads praising the show and then blasting the established critical posters of that forum for their strong negative opinions. In some cases, it amounted to the new posters saying “just stop watching the show and shut up”. And then the posters feel victimized when the inevitable dogpile ensues.

All of these situations are unnecessary, and I find it terribly funny and distressing at the same time that people are unwilling to let people think differently without resorting to insult and personal attacks. I also find it remarkably self-serving to go into a forum, where a strong opposing viewpoint is obviously held and admired, just to throw down a hostile and scathing gauntlet, and then cry and moan about how “unfair” the inevitable backlash or ban is.

Then again, given the level of dialogue between opposing sides in other aspects of our popular culture these days, I suppose this shouldn’t be all that surprising. (The ongoing debate over whether or not Kris Williams got breast implants, and the associated personal insults against her, also speaks poorly for the future of the human race.)

Case #1: Amos Blake House, NH

I liked the systematic debunking of the self-opening door, even if it might have been staged as part of the campaign to make Steve and Tango look like solid investigators as they transition to “Ghost Hunters Academy”. I have to say, maybe this is more typical of their usual investigative techniques, but it’s not like they didn’t do all those silly and questionable things over the past few years. It’s all on camera, and there’s a reason why this sudden trend towards the serious feels contrived.

The bit with the flashlight was not particularly impressive. I will note that both Jason and Grant’s hands were completely visible, and neither made any movement prior to the flashlight coming on. At the same time, there are two questions to be answered. First, the flashlight came on off-screen, so we don’t see it happen. Second, in the past, they have intentionally unscrewed the flashlight so that the slightest touch of the button would turn it on. If that was the case this time, Grant’s claim that the flashlight are hard to turn on without clear intention is off the mark.

The footage of the chain and pitchfork was presented as something noteworthy, but I’m not convinced. To me, it looked like the chain was resting in a somewhat unstable configuration in the first place. So how hard would it have been for movement of the floorboards to make the chain slip into a more natural position, knocking into the pitchfork in the process? I don’t see anything there that would require a paranormal explanation to explain the movements.

The evidence of a “ghost cat” was a bit more fun. They managed to capture an audible cat purr and an audible cat meow. They also managed to smell cat urine, and there were two unusual thermal blobs caught on the floor just above the basement. Truth be told, I suspect there are a couple of strays that get into the basement and like to roost in the warm spots. Why the client wouldn’t smell the cat urine, I don’t know, but as a cat owner, all the “evidence” points to actual live cats, not spectral felines.

Case #2: Arbona Building, FL

I suppose there was no way that the editors would stray from the usual pattern, so this was destined to be a case with no compelling “evidence”. There were some interesting bangs and noises, but since those noises could not be traced back to a source, it’s not much. The webcam idea is not all that bad, assuming that it’s not meant to be used as a promotional stunt. But then, I always think that it’s better to advise a client to collect data on their own, both as a means of facilitating long-term monitoring/investigation and to give the client the feeling that they are talking control of the situation.


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