It seems that most of our favorite shows are actually British remakes. We watched some in their original format on BBC America (Coupling, Cash in the Attic, Changing Rooms, What Not to Wear), and we’re just now becoming aware of some of our familiar American versions that started out on BBC. Ghosthunters is a case in point.
Since 2002 LivingTV in UK has featured "Most Haunted." In the US it’s shown on the Travel Channel, which is where I discovered it last night. The show follows a somewhat similar format to Ghosthunters. A team is sent into a specific location for investigation. This usually consists of a "presenter", a parapsychologist, and a spiritual medium. The team spends 24 hours in the location, and as with Ghosthunters, uses audio and video recordings in their investigations. However, that’s about where the similarities end.
Where Ghosthunters seem to spend more time trying to debunk and solve the mysteries, Most Haunted tends to aim toward sensationalism. Spiritual possession by one of the team members tends to be a weekly occurance, and all of their "evidence" seems to be experiential rather than objective. Even when evidence is captured on film, there is no attempt to debunk it. For example a piece of what was clearly cobweb floated in front of the lens. The team assured the viewers that the room had been cleaned and that there was no way it could be anything except paranormal. There are even accusations that most of the experiences reported are faked. Wikipedia has an extensive list of the criticisms of the show’s evidence.
Most Haunted has really crossed the line with their "Most Haunted Live" series, which began last night. There is a studio audience that discusses and reacts to the investigation. Viewers at home can monitor the cameras used in the investigation in real time. Last night’s show had the home viewers saying that they saw various apparitions, and that their computers and televisions were affected remotely. Must be some mighty powerful ghosts.
I’ll watch tonight’s live episode, and I may even log onto the cameras. However, I don’t think I’ll make this a watching habit as with Ghosthunters. The sad thing is, Ghosthunters is doing a 6 hour live broadcast from the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO for Halloween. Their guest investigator is one of the stars of the new wrestling series on SciFi. Unfortunately, it appears that Ghosthunters is slipping down the same road as Most Haunted.