And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you

I will show you fear in a handful of dust

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot


Media Monday: Paranormal Reality Shows

Paranormal Reality Television shows. Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyable. We’ve compiled a list of those we’ve seen over the years and rated them. And since this blog celebrates all things New England, we’ve tried to highlight those episodes that take place in our neck of the woods.

The Rating System:

3 Stars = Leave the lights on, get under the covers, don’t plan on sleeping because this is creepy as @#!$

2 Stars = You can turn the lights off but shouldn’t you get your feet under the blanket? Not too bad but you never know….

1 Star = My 6 year old cousin watches this show, no problem.

Paranormal Witness: 3 Stars

Probably one of our favorites. It keeps to the simple formula of “Real people tell the story, fake people act the story” but it does a pretty nice job of it. Some New England Episodes: S1E4 “The Haunting of Mansfield Mansion” (Connecticut), S2E7 “The Real Haunting in Connecticut”, S3E2 “The Lost Boy” (Massachusetts), S3E9 “the Wolf Pack (Maine)

The Haunted: 3 Stars

Another favorite with the same simple formula except this time it involves animals! Some New England Episodes: S1E4 “Terror at Maple Dale Farm” (Connecticut), S1E5 “Demon House” (Connecticut, literally the next town over from us), S1E11 “The Demonic Seduction”, S1E18 “Curse of the Evil” (Connecticut)

A Haunting: 3 Stars

Same formula, but has lasted the longest of most of these types of shows. It was still producing new episodes as of 2013. Some are better than others, but all are quite enjoyable. Some New England Episodes: There is a stand alone episode called “A Haunting in Connecticut”. Sound familiar? Yup. The same story is told again for Paranormal Witness. Season 1: “Hell House” (Connecticut), Season 2: “Where Demons Dwell” (Connecticut), Season 4 “Spirits of the Dead” (New Hampshire), “Echos of the Past” (Vermont), Season 5 “Nightmare in Bridgeport” (Connecticut), Season 6 “Well to Hell” (Connecticut), “Haunted Victorian” (Massachusetts)

Dead Files: 2 Stars

This show follows a psychic medium and a police officer as they investigate hauntings. Some of us love it and others are split. So we went with a 2. Some New England Episodes: S1E10 “Special Investigation: Lizzie Borden House” (Massachusetts), S2E33 “Tortured Souls (Connecticut), S3E8 “Summoning Souls” (Maine), S3E14 “Dark Inheritance” (Massachusetts)

Paranormal State: 2 Stars

Follows the investigations of Pennsylvania State University Paranormal Research Society. Another show where we split the difference at 2 stars. Some New England Episodes: S1E6 “Pet Cemetery” (Maine), S1E10 “Shape Shifter” (Maine), S2E6 “The Ladder” (Massachusetts), S5E2 “They Only Come out At Night” (Massachusetts)

Paranormal State begot Paranormal State: the New Class: 1 Star

No where near as good as the original. Didn’t last long either.

Ghost Hunters: 3 Stars that dwindled down to 2 but shows signs of returning to 3

This show follows T.A.P.S (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) based in Warwick, Rhode Island. The show has been hugely popular and while it’s not the first of it’s kind, it did spawn the next generation of paranormal investigation shows. Due to it’s base in New
England, quite a few investigations take place within the 6 states:

Season 1: E3 “The Lighthouse Inn” (Connecticut and Massachusetts), E4 “Race Rock Lighthouse” (Connecticut), E7 “The Armory” (Massachusetts), “New Boston Inn” (Massachusetts)

Season 2: E2 “Cranston & Grafton” (Rhode Island and Massachusetts), E5 “The Playhouse & The Firehouse” (Connecticut and Rhode Island), E6 “The Ledge Lighthouse” (Connecticut), E7 “Two Houses” (Massachusetts), E8 “Beechwood Mansion & Garden State” (Rhode Island), E9 “Dave Tango & Rolling Hills” (New Hampshire), E12 “Lizzie Borden House” (Massachusetts), E15 “Ghostly Grace & the Palladium” (Massachusetts), E17 “Two Brothers and Willard Library” (Massachusetts), E18 “Hartford Conservatory” (Connecticut)

Season 3: E3 “Shadow People” (Vermont), E4 “Whispers and voices” (Massachusetts), E9 “Nightmare Noises” (Rhode Island and Massachusetts), E10 “Toys of Terror” (Rhode Island), E11 “USS Lexington” (Rhode Island), E16 “Houses of the Holy” (Rhode Island), E17 “Salem Witch” (Massachusetts)

Season 4: E2 “Two to Tango” (Connecticut), E3 “Words From Beyond” (Massachusetts), E5 “Ghostly Bounty Hunter” (Massachusetts), E7 “Ghostly Conversation” (Rhode Island and New Hampshire), E10 “House of Spirits” (Connecticut and New Hampshire), E11 “Widows Watch” (Massachusetts), E15 “So She Married An Axe Murderer” (Rhode Island and Connecticut), E16 “The Boy In The Brothel” (Rhode Island and Connecticut), E20 “Bottled Spirits” (Connecticut), E21 “Hometown Haunts” (Massachusetts), E25 “Recycled Souls” (Massachusetts), E27 “Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse” (New Hampshire)

Season 5: E2 “Star Island” (New Hampshire), E3 “Edith Wharton Estate” (Massachusetts), E5 “Soul Searching” (Rhode Island and Massachusetts), E7 “Crossing Over” (New Hampshire), E9 “Inhuman Entity” (Massachusetts), E13 “Judgement Day” (New Hampshire), E16 “Glimmer Man” (Massachusetts), E21 “New Hampshire Gothic” (New Hampshire), E23 “Mark Twain House” (Connecticut), E24 “Unexplained Phenomena” (Connecticut)

Season 6: E3 “Shamrock Spirits” (Connecticut), E7 “Ghosts In The Attic” (Massachusetts), E8 “Inn of the Dead” (Massachusetts), E9 “Spirits of the Night” (Massachusetts), E10 “Norwich State” (Connecticut), E13 “Uninvited Guests” (New Hampshire), E14 “A Shot In the Dark” (Massachusetts), E15 “Signals From The Past” (Rhode Island), E25 “Ghosts of Christmas Past” (New Hampshire)

Season 7: E3 “Century of Hauntings” (Massachusetts), E7 “Residual Haunts” (Maine), E8 “Knights of the Living Dead” (Massachusetts), E9 “A Soldier’s Story” (Connecticut), E11 “Urgent” (Rhode Island), E13 “Dark Shadows” (Rhode Island), E14 “Ghostly Evidence” (Massachusetts), E16 “Harvesting Murder” (Massachusetts), E24 “Membership Denied” (Connecticut)

Season 8: E1 “Roller Ghoster” (New Hampshire), E2 “Buyer Beware” (Massachusetts), E6 “City Hell” (Rhode Island), E11 “The Princess and the EVP” (New Hampshire), E12 “Please sign the Ghostbook” (New Hampshire), E20 “Fear Factory” (New Hampshire), E22 “Heir Apparition” (New Hampshire), E23 “Paranormal Pioneers” (Massachusetts), E26 “Haunted Home For The Holidays” (Connecticut)

Season 9: E6 “Ghosts From Hale” (Connecticut), E15 “Shock Island” (Rhode Island), E22 “Nine Men’s Misery” (Rhode Island)

Ghost Hunters International: 2 Stars

Ghost Hunters, just, international! With a few regulars from the Ghost Hunters crew and a couple new guys, the same investigative style is applied to sites not in America. While the show didn’t last as long as it’s parent, it was great to see some unusual locales. Also a plus: they tried to speak to the spirits in their native language (unlike other international investigations we’ve seen.)

Ghost Adventures: 2 Stars

Love it or hate it, this show can be very entertaining and they do explore quite a few interesting places. And quite a few people must like this show because they’re currently airing season 9 with season 10 set to air in the Fall (2014). Much of their investigations take place in the south/southwest but here are some New England episodes: S1E2 “Houghton Mansion” (Massachusetts), S3E4 “Remington Arms Factory” (Connecticut), S4E19 “Salem Witch House/Lyceum Restaurant” (Massachusetts), S5E5 “Lizzie Borden House” (Massachusetts), S6E6 “The Galka Family” (Connecticut), S9E6 “Haunted Victorian Mansion” (Massachusetts)

Most Haunted: 2 Stars

Before Ghost Adventures, we had Most Haunted . This was a British paranormal show which followed a group of investigators and a couple psychics. Most investigations were in the British Isles although they later traveled to America. However…. the show became embroiled in controversy as skeptics questioned their methods and “evidence”. And let’s not even discuss the Derek Acorah issue. Regardless, the show is entertaining if nothing else. (And frankly, waiting for Yvette (the host) to go into a bleeping tirade when things get scary is half the fun of watching this show.)

My Ghost Story: 1.5 Stars

The production can be a little… meh, but the stories are decent. Also, I appreciate the puns in their episode titles. Some New England episodes: S1E2 “Ghosts Run In the Family and Haunting In The Woods” (Maine), S1E7 “Ghostly Intruder and A Brutal Murder Revealed” (Maine), S2E7 “The Grim Rapper” (Connecticut), S3E1 “The Demon Shadow” (Rhode Island), S3E6 “41 Whacks and He’s Back” (Massachusetts), S3E7 “Mystifying Mystery Ship” (Massachusetts), S4E1 “Bones In the Basement” (Massachusetts), S4E2 “House of Paine” (Rhode Island), S4E4 “Take A Picture, It’ll Slash Longer” (Maine), S4E6 “Lizzie’s Legacy” (Massachusetts), S4E7 “Working ghouls” (Massachusetts), S4E10 “Hair-Raising Spirits” (Massachusetts), S4E13 “Ghost In The Time Of Cholera” (Rhode Island), S4E14 “Salem Witch Dungeon” (Massachusetts), S5E3 “Sister Pact” (Massachusetts), S5E5 “Middle Burning Town Hall” (Massachusetts), S5E22 “Spirits In the Spotlight” (New Hampshire), S5E25 “Ghost Writer” (Connecticut), S6E5 “The Mist and The Pendulum” (Massachusetts)

Celebrity Ghost Stories: 3 Stars

A twist on the old formula: “Real people (that play fake people) tell the story, other fake people act out the story.” And it still works! Decent stories from relatively familiar faces.

School Spirits: 2 Stars

This show focused on haunted stories in schools. Although it was pretty decent, it was short lived with only 6 episodes to it’s credit.

The Scariest Places On Earth: 1 Star

While not scary, this was certainly an interesting take on investigating haunted sites. Drop a family/group of friends in, strap cameras to their bodies, separate them, and then scare the hell out of them. And while we’re at it, let’s get some great folks from some of the scariest movies to host the show. Some New England Episodes: S1E3 (Massachusetts), S2E15 “Urban Legends” (Connecticut), S4E5 “Urban Legends 2” (Massachusetts)

MTV’s Fear: 1 Star

See the description from above as it’s pretty much the same thing. Episode 2 took place in Connecticut.

VH1’s Paranormal Project:

No stars for this one as we don’t actually remember it. It appears to be very short lived and episodes 2 and 4 took place in Connecticut.

Ghost Mine: 1.5 Stars

Exactly what it sounds like. Investigating a haunted mine. Not located in New England, and lacks some of the scare factor, but it can hold your attention for more than 5 minutes.

Unsolved Mysteries: 3 Stars

The defining show of my youth in the 80’s and 90’s. Unsolved Mysteries wasn’t strictly paranormal, but it certainly had it’s fair share of fun. This show opened up a world of UFO’s and Bigfoot sightings to a generation of would-be investigators. No disrespect to any of the other hosts, but Robert Stack is the king of the voice over. His deep, haunting tone lent an air of credibility to these often mocked topics. Do yourselves a favor, kids, and check this show out.

Sightings: 1.5 Stars

We’re going back to the 90’s with this show and using pretty much the same formula as Unsolved Mysteries. This show, however, was strictly about the paranormal/unexplained.

Haunted Collector: 2 Stars

Let’s take one genre of reality TV (people that collect stuff) and mash up with another (paranormal investigations) and you have Haunted Collector. Basically they go around and find objects or artifacts at paranormal locations and remove them in the hopes that it will help those in the effected site. If you like this show, you might also like the show “Oddities”. Some New England Episodes: S1E1 “Library Ghost” (Connecticut), S1E4 “The Sanitarium” (Connecticut), S1E6 “Slaughterhouse Ghost” (Connecticut), S2E10 “Firestarter” (Connecticut), S2E11 “Enfield Horror” (Connecticut), S3E2 “Cigar Bar Spirits” (Massachusetts), S3E11 “Ghost Games” (Massachusetts)

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files: 1 Star

This show takes the premise of investigating possible evidence of the paranormal. Someone has a creepy video or picture they’ve posted or shared? This group attempts to determine if it’s real evidence or debunk it as a hoax. As a show it was… ok. No New England episodes in this one though.

For those of you keeping track at home, that’s:

Vermont: 2

Maine: 8

New Hampshire: 17

Rhode Island 20

Connecticut: 41

Massachusetts: 54

Keep in mind though, most shows are apt to investigate popular sites like the Lizzie Borden House and anything associated with the Salem witch trials. Also, keen observers can find the same story featured a few different times on different programs.

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand

W.B.Yeats – “The Stolen Child”

Houses are alive. This is something we know, news from our nerve endings.
If we’re quiet…
… if we listen…
… we can hear houses breathe.
Sometimes in the depth of night, we hear them groan.
It’s as if they’re having bad dreams.
A good house cradles and comforts.
A bad one fills us with instinctive unease.
Bad houses hate our warmth, our humanness.
That blind hate of our humanity is what we mean by the word “haunted”.

– Rose Red