Day 64: Paranormal State, season 1 (2007)

Oh, how I love Netflix. I love the concept, the system, and the site. And lately, I have been seriously crushing on their recommendation system. Yeah, I know, it’s a bit silly of me to even consider their suggestions as my queue is already bursting at the seams, but I like it. Netflix asked if I enjoyed Being Human (I sure did!). Why not try Jekyll? It is then added to my queue. Do I like reality programming? Who doesn’t?! Then why not try Top Chef season one? Why not, indeed. Do I have an odd fondness for supernatural shows? Uh, yes. Have I considered Paranormal State? Well, I hadn’t, but I will. How could a system like that let me down? I mean, it is probably based on well thought-out algorithms, a literary analysis of genre, and the 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon. Solid. So, based on this, over the past few days I have been watching a few episodes of Paranormal State.


The Paranormal State is a “reality” television show about a group of “investigators” who try to solve “cases” involving supernatural occurrences. While I have not seen the entire season, I did sample the show by watching a variety of shows (from hauntings to demonic possessions, and from shape shifting spirits to an examination of the mothman prophecy) to get a taste of what the show was all about. Admittedly, I am quite the fan of Ghost Hunters (Steve and Tango are like the Laurel and Hardy of the paranormal research world) and this may cause me to be biased. Sure, the show can be light on content, but it can be pleasantly spooky at times. The Paranormal State, while also light on content, doesn’t give me the same payout as my friends from TAPS.


I am well aware that all reality TV is not entirely real– just the fact that a camera crew is present and the footage is edited removes total “reality” from the situation (and that’s not even talking about scripting and the like). However, the Paranormal State feels even less real than The Bachelorette. The team comes up with the most bizarre solutions to the supernatural situations. While the Ghost Hunters will often find alternative, practical explanations such as old plumbing or an EMF spike caused by uninsulated electric systems; the Paranormal State tends to skip the obvious solutions. The team immediately leaps to X-Files-esque conclusions (uh, sure the banging noise in the house that suspiciously sounds like old pipes banging is probably due to tiny, alien, shapeshifter elves who live in the basement because of a curse a witch placed on the property in the 18th century). Sorry, but it just doesn’t work for me.


The “real” people on the team are supposedly students at Penn State. As they are on their fourth season, I wonder if they will work on graduate degrees to extend the life of their program. Unlike the Ghost Hunters, I don’t find the team as likeable. If the show were ever fictionalized (um, or refictionalized), I am sure that Keanu Reeves would be cast as the head investigator. Whoa.


Although I have a few issues with the show, I do like how they investigate all types of supernatural occurrences– not just hauntings. In a way, it is like a “real life” X-Files. I didn’t dislike the show, but I also was not drawn into it. While I am sure I will continue to watch an episode here or there as it appears on Netflix or hulu, I just don’t feel that I am missing anything by not watching the entire season.


Score: D+


Netflix Watch Instantly Queue: 196


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