As my friend Chaz’s ancestor is reported to have said, I will not tell a lie; I am a diehard Ghost Hunters fan. It’s not something I ever figured would happen to me, as I usually laugh at these types of shows, but there’s something about the mix of the genius editing by the Sci-Fi channel crew and the personalities of the T.A.P.S crew (that stands for The Atlantic Paranormal Society for those of you who don’t watch) that I just can’t get enough of. Over the four years, Ghost Hunters has become something of an obsession for me and upwards of three million other people; it is one of the highest rated cable shows and brings in a demographic that Sci-Fi has had a little trouble reaching; women 18-49.
Ghost Hunters is so popular that the Sci-Fi Channel went and created a spin-off; Ghost Hunters International. Ghost Hunters International returns with new episodes tonight, and I’m sorry to say I’m not that excited about it. See, if the T.A.P.S team is The Justice League of the ghost hunting community, Ghost Hunters International are kind of like the Teen Titans; same idea, but not as good. In the airing of the first few episodes of Ghost Hunters International (something I am tired of typing out so it will now just be GHI), a few things became apparent. For one, I don’t particularly like anyone on the team. It isn’t that they appear to be bad people or anything like that; they just don’t have much charisma on the team. Watching the T.A.P.S team, you feel like Jay, Grant, Steve and Dave Tango are guys you would enjoy having a few drinks with. Kris Williams, the newest member of T.A.P.S, I must admit, I have a TV crush on; she’s cute and seems pretty darn smart along with a good bit of a sense of humor.
The GHI team, I get more annoyed with them than anything. Andy Andrews reminds me of a cartoon dog who yaps too much, though I am highly impressed with his debunking abilities (Andy is the only member of GHI who doesn’t appear to go off of ‘feelings’ but will get down in the muck and look for solutions that make more sense than “ghost”). Brian Harnois, a former T.A.P.S member and the first cast member of Ghost Hunters to get a catch-phrase (“Dude, run!”) has an obvious love for the paranormal, but his love often keeps him from acting rational. I mean, the guy thinks everything is a ghost; if someone coughs, he’s ready to call a place haunted. Donna LaCroix was also a cast member of Ghost Hunters, though she rarely accompanied the team on cases, which I think I know why now. Donna goes off of little more than feelings; if her stomach hurts, it’s a sure sign of a haunting in her mind. That said, I would feel bad if I didn’t mention that Donna appears to be aces at research and communication. She has an obvious calming effect when she talks with the owners of whatever home or store the team is checking out that helps those people open up a little more.
Barry Fitzgerald has to be the only ghost hunter who constantly wants to leave in fear of ghosts appearing; I don’t understand his methods at all. The team is led by Robb Demarest, who I can’t say much about, unlike the rest of the cast, Robb was never on Ghost Hunters and while he was very stiff in the seven episodes that Sci-Fi had shown earlier this year, I have a sense that it had more to do with being nervous on camera. In truth, Robb had started to grow on me by the final episode of the first half of the season. Then there is Shannon Sylvia, whom I almost wrote nothing about because I can’t think of one thing she’s done worth noting.
The GHI team exists only because the Sci-Fi Channel wanted a spin-off while T.A.P.S had been around for years before they were given a show. Watching Jay and Grant on Ghost Hunters, it’s obvious that the two men have been friends for a long time, longer then the show has been on the air. They argue like old friends, laugh like old friends and stand in silence like old friends. With GHI, there is no feeling that the team mates are friends; hell, I’m pretty sure that Andy and Brian kind of hate each other. The crew was obviously put together for the show, and that, more than anything, hurts the show. There is no sense of friendship, no sense of family, to GHI. I can’t imagine Barry and Donna goofing on each other. I can’t even imagine them having lunch together.
Part of the problem of GHI is the theatrics used to sell the show. I imagine that Sci-Fi has much more say on this show than they go with Ghost Hunters (and yes, Ghost Hunters is pretty theatrical as well). I suppose its hard not to be theatrical when searching for ghosts in Europe; a house in Rhode Island can’t really be talked up much, but if you’re in Germany looking for ghosts, how do you not go to Frankenstein Castle? Still, when you hear them say Frankenstein Castle, you can’t help but think it’s hokey.
All the same, tonight I’ll be watching the start of a new season of Ghost Hunters International, hoping that the cast has gelled a bit more and that the editors have figured out how to make me believe. After all, how many shows are running at full speed within the first few episodes? I mean, have you seen the first season of X-Files lately?