Paranormal State Undermines Own Concept

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A&E’s Paranormal State features a gang of attractive Penn State college students, who also happen to be ghost hunters, out hunting for, well, ghosts.

To promote the show A&E unveiled a billboard in SoHo with an unusually techie twist: speakers that blast sound in a concentrated area. When a passerby walks in the cone of sound they hear a voice as though it were inside their head, while someone standing right next to them would hear nothing. The idea is to present the illusion of having a voice inside your head. The thing is, the billboard presents something of a Scooby Doo moment…

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                     The kids of Paranormal State, looking scary, yet attractive. Perfect for TV! (A&E)

In the Scooby Doo cartoons, for those who don’t recall or were too busy eating Scooby snacks to remember, the gang would travel in their psychedelic van to assorted “haunted” houses. Locals would swear that they were haunted, citing voices, apparitions, etc… Ultimately of course there were no ghosts, just creepy old guys in masks using special effects to trick people into thinking they were ghosts. And if it wasn’t for those meddling kids they would have gotten away with it too.

Having watched the first few episodes of Paranormal State, I am willing to say they are just as ridiculous as Scooby Doo was, and not nearly as entertaining. Some noises here and there, a cold spot or warm spot, some people swearing they totally saw something. Hell, they even busted out some “mediums” who not surprisingly found lots of spirits (have they ever not found spirits? If someone gave me a check I would tell them I felt a presence too).

This is why the billboard is so ironic: the ghostly effect created by the billboard is much more convincing than anything actually seen in the silly show… and no one is saying the billboard is haunted.

TV has been bombarded with assorted paranormal shows and all of them seem to lack that je ne sais quoi. The “ghost hunters” all of them amateurish (plumbers on Sci Fi’s Ghost Hunters, college kids on Paranormal State), at best seem to find drafty old houses. The most compelling footage seems to come more from the editing room than beyond the grave.

I bet if I put that sound emitting speaker in a house and said it was haunted, the ghost hunters would buy it hook line and sinker. Maybe we could even get We’s John Edward or Lifetime’s Lisa Williams to “speak” to the not-really-dead.  So how about it A&E? That would be good television.

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