I've always been entertained by stories of the Jersey Devil, a creature that supposedly stalks the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. I've never really put much stock in the stories, but, as with most paranormal stories, I can't rule it out. When I saw that A&E was running a program called Paranormal State about the Jersey Devil, I planned to watch it.
Ugh. What has happened to paranormal research television? I grew up watching quality creepy shows like In Search Of, and this was no In Search Of. This was pure crap. A bunch of college age "researchers" go to places where ghosts and goblins are supposedly sighted, and they walk around and squeak and squeal with every noise they hear in the dark. Then they take a heat-vision camera into the woods and film what was OBVIOUSLY a deer and claim they have captured the first piece of real evidence of the Jersey Devil. This was more than bad... it was so bad it hurt to watch. But it suddenly dawned on me as I was watching it that it was oddly familiar.
A few months ago I checked a set of DVDs out of the library. It was a series that ran on A&E's sister network the History Channel called UFO Hunters that featured UFO Magazine publisher Bill Birnes and a crew of weirdos hunting down information about famous UFO sightings. It was an interesting concept that was ruined by horribly unnecessary shaky-cam footage of the investigators talking around tables and dramatic zoom-ins of old men talking about flying saucers. It was horrid. The only thing that made it worse was the fact that Bill Birnes was involved. He comes off as this sleazy sideshow barker who comes up with the most outlandish explanations for mundane things. It would almost be funny if it weren't so crappy. I didn't even finish watching the first disc of the set-- it was just that bad.
This show I watched tonight was just as bad, if not worse. Shaky-cams, zoom-ins, Bill Birnes... it was all there-- oh wait-- did I say "Bill Birnes?" What was he doing on a show about a creepy forest monster from New Jersey? I guess he's had a lot of free time since UFO Hunters was canned.
The absolutely worst part was when a few of the guys took a heat vision camera into the woods and went completely apenuts over two heat signatures they saw—one was obviously a bird high up in a tree, and the other was obviously a deer. The really bad part is that the image of the deer had a really poorly done set of wings animated on the film. It was so plainly doctored that I laughed out loud while I was watching it. Who exactly buys this crap? How do these shows stay on? There are at least 7 of these crappy ghost-hunter type shows on different networks, and they’re all similarly terrible programs.
In an attempt to make this blog worth a darn, here is the simple formula to make a successful paranormal television show of your own if you so wish:
1. Get a bunch of ugly friends
2. Get some night vision cameras
3. Go to an old building or into the woods
4. Point cameras at EVERY FLIPPING NOISE YOU HEAR
5. Scream like a cat in a blender at EVERY FLIPPING NOISE YOU HEAR
6. Get into arguments with each other over meaningless crap
7. Get a fat Goth chick to make an appearance on your show
8. Record static and “interpret” it to be ghosts talking
9. Proclaim that dust particles caught on film are "orbs"