Ghost Hunters 5.3: "Edith Wharton Estate"

The first two episodes left many fans less than inspired. The team has looked tired, as if stuck in a rut, and their methodology seemed to be equally conventional. As we've seen with GHI, an investigation with relatively little "evidence" can still be interesting and even exciting if the team is energetic and inventive. That's not something that has been the case with TAPS for a while.

This episode may mark the beginning of a swing in the right direction, even if the team's idea of "new equipment" is a bit quaint and amusing. At least they're using something other than the K-II meter and the occasional FLIR sweep. (Has anyone else noticed that they don't seem to bother monitoring the temperature and other environmental data anymore?)

In past seasons, they've noted footsteps on a regular basis. It almost seems to happen at every location these days. As such, it makes perfect sense for them to place vibration sensors wherever they seem to be hearing those footsteps. Their "geophone" essentially serves that purpose, though I had to wonder why it took them so long to think about it. I'm also not so sure why they needed someone from the ephemeral "TAPS R&D" to build such a device. Several existing items are readily available, and have been used by investigators for years!

Their new EMF alarm is more problematic. The principle is nothing new; many tri-field meters come with this function already, as seen on GHI and other venues. Mating the EMF alarm with actual readings allows for a visual scale to go along with the audible sound, and it's easy enough to research what can set off a tri-field meter. This little black box of theirs has no readout, and there's no way to know how well shielded that EMF meter at the heart of the device might be. For all we know, it's a K-II meter surrounded by a box!

Speaking of the K-II, the usage during this case, at least on camera, was relatively inoffensive, and they acknowledged during the reveal that it merely produced interesting information, not proof of paranormal activity. Presuming that they were being honest when they said that the building was vacant when they recorded the sounds and the reaction of the geophones, I'm intrigued. It's nothing definitive, because we don't know the sensitivity of the devices offhand, but it's a lot better than "we heard footsteps".

Equally interesting is the incident where they heard the footsteps as they were staring at the geophone, ear to ground, and could not detect a vibration. There are plenty of explanations, of course, but they didn't seem to look into them (at least, on-screen). Considering that they had different results while hearing roughly the same things, it's something worthy of further exploration.

This was an episode with scant "evidence", and the new equipment wasn't the most impressive addition to an investigator's arsenal, but they did show a bit more energy this time around. If they can continue to try different things as the season progresses, it might make up for a relatively slow beginning.


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