Saturday, July 7, 2012

The 10 Commandments of Paranormal TV

All Praise The Great God Of Night-Vision, For He Doth Rule Paranormal TV

Would it be possible - just once will be fine! - to see a supernatural, paranormal or Fortean-themed "Reality TV" show that offers the viewer at least a bit of originality?

It's almost like there's a book that all the writers, directors and producers consult before they lazily crank out the latest piece of tat. Perhaps there is...

Here are, as I see them anyway, the Ten Commandments of supernatural on-screen "entertainment" (in no particular order). There's nothing positive about these commandments, however. Unless you view "predictable" and "tedious" as having merit - which I don't.

1. Thou shalt always have thy team comprised of more men than women. The former should generally sport some form of headwear (either a baseball cap or something befitting Indiana Jones). The latter should always be kept away from Manna from Heaven and the food of the gods. Anorexic-looking, in other words.

2. Ensure that thy cast doth drive a flashy all-terrain vehicle rather than a car. If that same vehicle can be filled with lots of cameras, weird-looking devices and advanced technologies - and bountiful shots of such items can be captured for the viewer - ye will reap rewards beyond thy imagination (that's to say you will get your expenses paid a week early).

3. Lest ye risk facing the wrath of the Almighty (in this case the TV channel that is funding the show), thou shalt secure a great deal of night-vision footage. And not for any particular reason, aside from, well, it's night-vision footage and everyone else's show has it, so why not thy heroes, too?

4. To avoid forever being plunged into the heart of some hellish realm, ensure that at least every 5 minutes one of thy cast members utters a variation of the following words (which must always be whispered, rather than spoken or shouted): "What the hell was that?!" "Did you hear that?!" "What the f**k is that?!" "Can you see that?!"

5. Take careful steps never to forget that, when a commercial break doth loom large on the horizon, thou shalt build up the atmosphere with something that appears mysterious, but - Lo and Behold! - after the break, thy team will resolve the matter in down to earth, jokey, semi-relieved style.

6. Verily, in the commercials that promote the show in the hours before it is broadcast, always be careful to ensure that at least one person's words are edited in a fashion that takes them totally out of their original context.

7. Stress to thy heroes of the hour (or half an hour, depending on budget) that at some point they must speak in an out of breath fashion, and if this can be done while running from something terrible (but actually non-existent), ye will all be granted entrance into the next joyous realm of existence (or, as it's also known: Season Two).

8. Never forget that haunted houses and creature-infested woods should not be entered into until the sun has set and darkness is upon both ye and the land. Daylight shootings will provoke a wrath of unimaginable horror. Its almost unspeakable name is: Falling Ratings.

9. Do thy utmost to make sure the team comes across as more learned and intelligent than the witnesses they encounter on their journey towards enlightenment.

10. And, finally, the most important commandment of all, and one of definitive behind-the-scenes proportions: when trying to secure the services of people to appear on thy show, always ensure that the researcher whose job it is to phone the witnesses, authors and investigators reads the following sacred verse: "Hi, I'm [Insert Name] from the [Insert Name] Channel. We would like to interview your for our show [Yep, again: Insert Name]. But, unfortunately, we can't pay you as we don't have much of a budget [Yes, you do, you lying prick]. But it will be good publicity for you, we'll try and pay all your airfare, and we'll even buy you a coke. How's that sound?"

Production companies: unless ye wish to forever burn in the fiery pit (the definition of which is: failure to secure a second season), pay careful heed to the above and never stray from the pathway to  glory on high. Nah, screw it: just go and forever burn in the fiery pit.


  1. I guess this explains why Ghost Cases only lasted for one season, because I ignored just about all of your commandments. :-)

    1. Great observations Nick! I'd like to add to that list, the stuff that bothers me:

      - Too many quick edits. If you see something, you literally have a second or so before the shot changes.

      - Misuse of sound effects, crossing the line of real versus not real sounds.

      - ALWAYS using the trendy ghost hunting gear, never the little-known equipment that might produce better results (such as a hydrocarbon vapour meter).

      - Haunted investigations are usually 1 day at the most, maybe 2; true investigators would leave gear running/recording for at least a week.

      - Nothing ever pans out, although there are actually ways which could produce better results.

      - Often a female cast member is just a trainee, generally younger and cute. I assume because the lead men want to feel like they are impressing the girl.

      - The "investigators" almost always just have typical, common, or beginner level insight yet claiming to be professionals. True professionals tend hold/have/display more unique knowledge.

      - Feedback from viewers is generally not deemed as valid, other than perhaps location ideas. This is common in the spiritual community as well; those who claim to be experts usually cannot validate the insight of others.

      - I like at the end when the lead team members provide their findings to the property owner. Finding are always yes or no with regards if any paranormal activity was discovered, but nothing after that. I can only imagine what the property owner is thinking....'Great, you documented some activity. I all ready told you there was activity. So, now what are you going to do about it?'

      - As per the above point, solutions are never a part of the investigations. Imagine calling a termite exterminator to your house and they investigate for an hour then say "yup, you have cockroaches in your walls", then pack up their gear and leave. This is because paranormal investigators really known nothing else other than trying to document stuff.

      - Somehow bringing in a psychic who holds up their hands and says "yes, I sense something here" is somehow viewed as valid data.

      - I have yet to see any investigator, producer, or show crew admit to any fault of their own. There's always a justification or excuse, such as "well that is what the network wants".

      Final comments:

      I assume the shows keep airing because the viewership is generally young folks. When you begin to advance yourself with paranormal awareness (such as my points or the excellent 10 points of your blog post), you simply get bored and change the channel. With all that being said, I do realize that paranormal TV shows are just entertainment, so I don't actually expect anything above the norm.

    2. 11. No one pictured on these shows has ever used a razor or a comb nor are they allowed to show their hair combed.

      12. Ancient alien or UFO theorists are never to be mentioned by name but must continually be alluded to.

      And lucky 13.

      Proof of the assumptions of these so-called theorists or experts shall never be shown or otherwise depicted by penalty of permanently being banned from all these shows, or as in the case of Bill Birnes, cancelled when he was going to reveal too much.

  2. Yep, you're one of the good guys, Paul! One of the few!!

  3. As you know, a big part of the problem is that producers have to deliver the product that the networks expect. If the networks insisted on something more responsible, the producers would change their tune overnight. So nowadays it's all about following the same dumb reality TV format to which they add a foolish "found footage" sequence or two in the fashion of the "Paranormal Activity" movies. Doesn't matter whether it fits or not.

    Gene Steinberg
    Host/Executive Producer, The Paracast

  4. The problem is that these shows have one major flaw/disadvantage to them: they can never actually be about what they claim to be about. Ghost hunting shows never find ghosts--nothing you can slam the question closed on anyway. Monster hunters never find monsters. UFO hunters don't even know what they're hunting for--"unidentified." They are hunting for "unidentified." Really? Why not take the plunge and call it "Space ship hunters"? You're not going to find any of those either but at least you will know what you're looking for.

    In a way, it's ingenious. These production companies have managed to build shows around dead air. In fact, if I ever do a paranormal hunt show I will call it "Dead Air." Watch the ratings pour in.

    1. I made fun of all these shows in my videos where I asked why in 2 seasons of UFOs Hunters we never see them FIND a UFO, why they're always out in the middle of nowhere talking by the side of the road, etc.
      I intend to make fun of Ancient Aliens next month in a parody video. I watch ALL of these shows but their assumptions are always without any kind of proof.
      A Keyhoe, Edwards, Nebel or Hynek type would have schooled these people big time with their silly assumptions that aliens helped people build the Pyramids, et al. The Birnes broke up laughing when they saw my videos and loved them. = I fully expect to see AA come out with an episode that has someone " prove " that aliens help restore 56 Chevy Bel Air convertible one day with secret alien Overhauling tech. :)

    2. I watch all these things because I can't stand the other shows ( except for NCIS and Elementary ) that pass for entertainment these days. And on the weekends there's not a lot on. Seems like every day there's a new alien, conspiracy or paranormal show on. Even the American Heroes Channel ( formerly the Military Channel ) is running new shows on this. UFOs, Bigfoot ( bigfeet if there are two of them ? ), ghosts, etc. drive ratings and sell more videos. I wish some network would run classic stuff from the past like the Keyhoe interviews from the 1950's, J. Allen Hynek, Long John Nebel and the like. And buy a comb for George Tsoukalas.

  5. Gene
    Yeah, I understand that. But, if the producers' hands are tied, then they should have the balls and integrity to walk away and do a show that they can be proud of instead, rather than just caving in to the orders of the channel and making a pile of crap.

    1. But Nick, crap sells. & selling crap probably beats manning a McDonalds' drive thru window by thousands of miles. I think you're also using standards of intelligence that don't apply to the average TV viewing public. After all, you write & read books, while the majority of folk I've met who find these shows compelling never get within spitting distance of a book. I'm not even sure they can spell "paranormal" on a consistent basis.
      And after sitting through 3 episodes of NatGeo's Chasing UFOs I can't say that UFO shows are much better. Last night my son & I watched the intrepid UFO hunters wander around in the Colorado snow in an effort to film a UFO sucking up a cow.

      When you couple the Chasing UFOs Indiana Jones-like trailer with the actual "we run away at the least provocation" reality of the show one can't help feeling that Chasing UFOs is NatGeo's first foray into the new field of Reality Sit-Coms.

    2. JAD:

      I would have to massively disagree with this. As anyone who knows me personally will be well aware, I have a total hatred and loathing of the idea that people in the arts (whether painters, musicians, authors, poets, etc etc) are somehow above "the masses."

      I would stress to people (and I DO stress to people!) that being in "the arts" is in no way "better" or "superior" than being a car-mechanic, a house-painter, a plumber etc.

      It means we all have different skills in different areas.

      But, I really do hate this ego-driven attitude (that is curiously prevalent in "the arts") that arty = superior.

      I think you have the wrong notion when you say "...the majority of folk I've met who find these shows compelling never get within spitting distance of a book..."

      The fact is that some of the worst paranormal shows are watched by some of the most intelligent people in the Fortean field. I know, because they blog about it, they inform people of what's coming up at their blogs etc.

      And here's why: no matter the intelligence of the viewer, if you're into (hypothetically) the Yeti and all the TV shows on the beast are dumbed-down crap, people will still watch it - regardless of intelligence.

      Here's why: because there's no alternative.

      I would agree with you if TV's paranormal output was of varying degrees of credibility and caliber, and there was a good choice. But there isn't (for the most part).

      So, regardless of brain-power, if we want to watch non-fiction Fortean shows, we're ALL forced to watch crap.

      I have, for example, friends who are highly critical of the way TV handles Cryptozoology. But they still watch the shows and they have brains and they read books. But, when it's a case of watch those shows or watch no shows on Cryptozoology...they still watch the shows.

      That's the problem: chiefly, we're not able to pick and choose and be selective (in terms of quality) about what we watch, because it's nearly all crap.

    3. Nick, be serious, TV shows are filler designed to keep your attention between commercial breaks.
      Personally, I don't give two shits about the arts.
      What I'm talking about is the general homogenization of culture that has led to the collective IQ drop here in America.
      A cultural homogenization brought on primarily by TV.
      No one forces folk to sit through crap television. As a matter of fact, if no one sat through crap TV, no ads would be sold & TV producers would have to try something beyond the box or else get a real job. And I imagine that none of them want to get a real job.
      But people do sit through this crap.
      Over & over.
      I'm not anywhere near the "Fortean field."
      I don't read their "blogs" because, again, I don't really give a shit.
      I'm a working class guy who lives in the 'Average Joe" world you seem to have mythologized to the point of absurdity.
      While you & your Fortean pals don't find these shows compelling, many of the people I work with do.
      They find them compelling in much the same way they find Joel Osteen's puddle deep religious philosophy compelling.
      They aren't the least bit critical about any of it.
      When Zak Bragan whips out his "convert physic energy into typed text" device of complete bullshit, they assume something like that actually exists and actually works.
      Personally, I think people keep dining on bullshit because they like the taste.
      Otherwise, they'd find something else to do.
      Like read a fucking book.
      & really Nick, how intelligent can your Fortean buddies be if they sit through oodles & oodles of this shit?
      Are they afraid that the minute they turn away something interesting will happen and they won't be able to Crackbook about it with their other Fortean buddies.
      Maybe they need to abandon Fortean pheenom for a while & get a nice time card punching 12 hour a day job. One that restricts their copious amount of bad TV viewing free time & forces them to be a bit more discerning.

    4. JAD:

      Yes, they are filler and that's why I get pissed off, because it's lazy TV.

      But my point is this: people - regardless of intelligence levels, high, low, somewhere in between - will watch this series on Cryptozoology or that series on ghosts, or the other series on UFOs if there is nothing else available on those subjects.

      That's the reality and that's the problem too: these shows are sometimes very successful. Not because they are good. But because people interested in these things have no alternatives to watch - but they DO want to watch something on that subject.

      So, they sit through it, whether it's good, bad or whatever.

      And, yes, it IS sometimes in case something interesting might be missed if they dont watch. But, deep down, everyone knows that there wont be anything interesting. But people still watch...just in case.

      That's why, sadly, this lazy approach of the TV companies work. Because they know they have cornered the market in producing this kind of shit. And there's no alternative to it for people into these things, so they watch it, ratings go up, and that means more shows along these lines.

      Re your "12 hour a day job" comment. That's a vast and sweeping misconception. Most people in the field I hang out with (authors, researchers etc) DO have regular jobs. As most people know, I certainly cannot (and do not) earn a living from writing books. I take whatever work I can get, in whatever field (not just writing - I have a forklift license, do house-painting, all sorts). As do most people in this field.

    5. Nick, honestly, I don't really care how y'all make a living. If y'all have managed to escape the punch card world, more power to you...if not, well you have my sympathy. We're in the same leaky boat. I drove a forklift for a few years, I was a carpenter for a while, I worked in a chemical plant for a few years (a great job if cancer is a life goal) & I've spent the last 20 years working with mentally challenged adults where I've learned the harsh lesson that the USA, for all its "we love Jesus" bullshit is basically a nation of cheapskate chumlies who are far more interested in Paris Jackson's latest hair style than they are in providing quality care for the disadvantaged & a decent wage for the people who care for them.

      People will watch anything Nick because it's the freaking path of least resistance & modern humans have made slothful laziness a preferred character trait.
      If I remember correctly, one TV posted a 24/7 feed of a fish tank & people complained like hell when they pulled it.
      I understand your "why can't there be quality Fortean TV" idea but seriously, why should Fortean TV be any different than the rest of the crap on television.
      My co-workers have an equal love for cop shows like Criminal Minds where they trot out the serial killer of the week like it's a new ice cream flavor. The show is so amazingly implausible & unrealistic that any time I'm unlucky enough to see it my head starts to throb. A person has a greater chance being killed by lightening than they have being offed by a serial killer, yet a show like Criminal Minds finds an eager & receptive audience.

      Don't you think the entire impetus behind the recent influx of Fortean TV can be boiled down to
      a. Cable TV has a voracious maw that runs 24/7 & gobbles up & craps out product at an alarming rate and
      b. the rise of the Internet allows TV executives to easily Google Bigfoot & UFOs & conspiracy theories where they discover a ready made market of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of web pages peopled by, in many cases, incredibly credulous yahoos and
      c. the damn things are way cheaper to make than an actual drama.

      I'm not a fan of these shows. I see ghostie & ghoulie shows at work because that's what people put on & I've seen a few UFO & Crypto shows with my oldest son because we like a good laugh & many times these shows are funny as hell. In fact, I rarely watch any TV unless I'm in situations where I can't escape the little idiot box. I realized years back that my free time was limited & not for wasting.

      As long as that little fact doesn't dawn on the average TV viewer & they continue to passively sit there while bowl after bowl of shit stew is shoveled into their gullets nothing will change.
      & I got to say man, my sympathies are very very limited.

      It was nice chatting with you man. I'm gonna let you go before I start looking like an Internut stalker.


    6. @JAD: loved your posts and succinct insights! you should really start a blog - I totally agree with your point of view about the American public - Idiocracy is here and TV is merely a reflection of it.

      like P.T. Barnum once stated (although it's debatable he actually said it):
      "no one ever went broke overestimating the stupidity of the American public."

  6. Jeremy:

    The problem is (and I know this, having been on various "reality" shows) is that there's actually hardly ever a real attempt or effort to investigate anything. Instead, it's all about securing footage that the channel, network, production company etc hope will be eye-catching and rating-growing.

    I would be far more impressed if (hypothetically) a network created a project that would send (let's say, for arguments sake) a team to search for the Orang-Pendek - for 6 months. And, they spend the entire time following every lead, every witness, fill the time with investigations - and not having to repeatedly say "what was that? etc - and that way, just possibly, a TV shoulw WOULD find evidence.

    But, that's not what these shows are about. What they ARE about, is rolling into town for 2 days, running around getting scenery footage, a bit of night-vision, a couple of interviews and that is then perceived as an "investigation."

    Of course, it isn't though. What it is, is lazy crap. It doesn't have to be that way. The problem is the lack of imagination and balls to do something totally out the box.

    1. Nick,

      That kind of six month show that you're talking about does happen, but within the context of individual documentaries, which can take months to shoot, as opposed to "reality TV" which is churned out on an incredibly tight schedule.

      The truth is that unless you've actually produced programming for television, you don't really have a clue as to how it's all put together (and I'm not referring to you, particularly). Without getting into a long and boring description of the various things at play, I will say this: anyone like James Fox who works in the industry knows exactly what they're getting into when they agree to take the money and join someone else's show. If they tell you anything else (i.e. the dodge that "they changed it up in the field" or "they completely altered everything in post"), they're not being honest with you, because you always know that's a risk if you aren't the one calling the shots. Which is why I've never put myself in that position (and turned down some pretty good paying gigs as a result), and never will.


    2. Paul:
      Yeah, my comments are strictly directed to Reality TV, not the docu-type shows.
      Yes, I'm sure the production companies know exactly what they are getting into - which makes it even worse! At least if they didn't know, they could plead that it wasn't their fault how the show turned out.
      That they did know, and knew how it would turn out, doesn't impress me in terms of wanting to work with these people!

  7. J:

    I meant TV show not "TV shoulw."

  8. Just curious -- what about something like Ancient X-Files? Does that go some way toward the kind of program you'd actually like to see?

    I just saw one episode where a geologist and archaeologist were sent to Bosnia to check out Sam Osmanagic's pyramid claims. The show is short, so you don't get into the nuts and bolts as much as one might like, but they detailed pretty convincing counter-evidence to Osmanagic's claims, discussed problems with his methodologies, and confronted him with their points.

    It's one of the few shows I've come across that chooses to shoot down a hypothesis when the evidence points in that direction, rather than shakily sustain it to harvest future ratings.

    On the other hand, there's something oddly fitting about what most paranormal shows provide -- a simulacra of a paranormal "experience." Arguably, most people are tuning in to such shows because they're fascinated with the fright, not with the evidence (the lizard brain generally trumps the frontal cortex when it comes to cable television). By carefully manufacturing what their demographic research says the average viewer believes such an experience would be like, they appeal to a certain viewership sweet spot, the one where the viewer is simultaneously eating/texting/surfing the web while half-paying attention to the show. They're only tuning in for the moment of tension, not the details.

    So in a way Jeremy's right; the shows suggest they're about finding some... thing, but they're really about fabricating a version of how one might imagine such an experience might be like for public consumption. That's advertising 101.

    1. M:
      Yeah, I'm not saying there aren't the occasional shows where the format is done right and they do display integrity. But, the vast, VAST majority are just band-wagon-types jumping on to whatever is currently popular - such as paranormal stuff, or middle-aged women arguing over lunch about stuff that no-one cares about.

  9. I know it's not paranormal, but your commandments apply to shows like "Finding Bigfoot" and similar shows. Do you not think that "River Monsters" with Jeremy Wade has done a good job? They do most filming during the day, and Jeremy tries to give logical answers to these Paranormal/monster stories. Why cannot more shows be like "River Monsters?"

    -Jonathan R. Volker

  10. Now, of course, the eternal question: If you got an offer to star on one of these shows. but you would have no creative control, would you take it?

    1. No, it's like any job - why do something you hate? There's no point.

  11. Yea, and even though the report which has brought the to this place shall have said that the ghost was seen at the noonday, nevertheless thou shalt not partake of any investigation until after the setting of the sun. And though it be verily told thee that the ghost spoke plainly and sensibly in a loud voice, yet thou shalt seek for voices not heard by thine ears, nor speaking more than a single syllable, and that one which soundeth rather like the motion of abdominal gas; and with this thou shalt be greatly pleased.

  12. Hey Jonathan

    I actually do enjoy River Monsters a lot because of the very issues you raise. They stay away from the regular "night-vision/what was that?" approach and make each episode very entertaining. They also make is adventurous by actually using real-life situations, instead of just endless shots of him driving around etc.

    His book is excellent too.

    And there's no reason at all why this technique could not be applied to paranormal shows - it just takes effort, which so many clearly dont want to do.

  13. Hi Nick
    I've had more than my fair share of bullshit from TV companies. The CFZ get approached so many times by compaines that want to do this or that but never come through. We once had a company want us to pay for the expedition and they would come along and film it without giving us a penny. Another said that there producer thought we were 'too real' and went on to say we were too grounded in natural history and not close enought to things like alien abductions or guardian angels!. Even the last crew we worked with had to be badgered to hand over funds towords the expeditions. Originaly they were going to fund a trip to Mongolia but they said they could't get the funding. If TV can pay the wages of the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Graham Norton who have no visable talent then they can fork out for us cryptozoological experts!

  14. Hey Rich
    Yeah, that's one of the biggest ironies: these people want to get you for free and still have you do all the work! They should remember that without the people on the show, there is no show!

  15. There was one rule missing: Sprinkle thy episode liberally with cut scenes of said investigators getting up from chairs and saying (and this is important) verbatim, "Let's do it!"

  16. "To avoid forever being plunged into the heart of some hellish realm, ensure that at least every 5 minutes one of thy cast members utters a variation of the following words (which must always be whispered, rather than spoken or shouted): "What the hell was that?!" "Did you hear that?!" "What the f**k is that?!" "Can you see that?!"

    I could not agree more with you Nick but you gotta lay off those South Park episodes! :P

  17. Basically, all reality TV sucks. It's the cheapest way to fill air time between commercials. It's all staged (and usually badly), whether it's dancing competitions or hunting Bigfoot. There is no "reality" in reality TV.

    I know so many people who no longer even own TVs (me included) because cable and satellite have become far too expensive just for access to crap broadcast 24/7. Many of us who've kicked the TV habit now just occasionally selectively stream online.

    By filling up broadcast hours with this tripe, TV as we know it is hastening its own demise. Most of those I know who've untethered from the TV umbilical are of the target age group that advertisers covet. The commercials (the real point of all these nonsense shows) are falling on fallow ground.

  18. And Nick, you forgot that in most cases of crypto documentaries, the 'investigators' have to get their camo gear on, film with night-vision and then go home when it rains. Alternatively, ghost-hunters stand in a room in the dark, claim something has touched their head, film and orb...and then go home. I've turned down so many TV companies over the years and yet if you're lucky you might get some great TV stuff like BBC's LOST LAND OF THE VOLCANO, LOST LAND OF THE TIGER etc where researchers were actually paid and also given time to come up with real evidence - i.e. new species, tracks etc. So much TV nowadays is disposable, an episode of Ghost Investigators, or Most Haunted is no different to watching a trashy soap or car crash z-list celeb TV.

    TV now is very much comparable to albums - gone are the days when classic albums are made by great bands, requiring listeners to sit through and appreciate the music - nowadays we sownlaod the track we want because the rest is shit.

    Finding Bigfoot is a prime example of car crash TV. "There's a 'Squatch in these woods," like fuck is there...but again, it's got the same ingredients, the researchers who make fools of themselves calling and walking around filming themselves, and yet if the time and money was spent by the BBC etc to actually send experts out over a length of time, I'm sure they'd film more than just an orb or a set of eyes.

  19. You forgot the 11th commandment: Thou shalt always have at least 2 people running from nonexistant horrors in night vision with a chin cam while acting scared so all the veiwer can see is thier scared face/chin fat bouncing.

  20. It's all just Scooby Doo, redux.

  21. According to P.T. Barnum, no one ever went broke overestimating the stupidity of the American public.

  22. Haunted Highway is 100% true as evidence by the needless static in between scenes.

  23. Wow, you're all missing the point. The big news here is ... it's well within the realm of possibility to have one's house painted by NICK REDFERN! Just imagine the bragging rights. I wish I lived in the land where the Redfern grows! Seriously Nick, very thought-provoking commentary as always. : )

  24. mkeghosts:
    LOL, yep, and if there's a lot of paint, wallpaper etc to be delivered, I can forklift it all on to the back of your truck too! Its amazing what UFO researchers do when they aren't UFO researching, haha!

  25. Bravo Nick! You have pegged the McDonald's mentality of para-reality trash. The only show I watched anymore was Destination Truth since their format was a bit different, at lest the first half was entertaining. Now, after waiting an unforgivably long time for the new season to start,they have gotten rid of the entire crew save one, hence the fun, the banter and the cultural experiences I enjoyed in this show are gone. It now abides by your 10 commandments and it as boring as the rest of them. Personally, I am just going to curl up with your books from now on, TV be damned.

  26. You forgot three...

    "Thou shalt not let ugly facts get in the way of a good story. Truth, first hand accounts, and history must always take a back seat to sensationalism... the historians and experients won't care (loudly enough) and it makes for good ratings."

    "Verily, if thou wishes to show amazing 'proof' or 'evidence' of anything odd, ensure that the camera is placed in such a way as to negate the IMpossibility of human manipulation or contamination of said data collection and thou shalt never use any controls or environmental measures as they will only muddy the excitement of the finding."

    "To prove thou art 'scientific', thou shalt use machines that go 'Ping!' to look for things BUT thou must never qualify these machines purposes and uses properly and never try to understand the true mechanics behind them. Thy brain is a memory storage device and you have lines of dialogue and catch phrases to remember, do not waste room with superfluous nonsense like how an EM meter works or why thou'st even want to use one."

  27. One more rule...

    Whenever you pull out a whizgadget, make sure you do a cutscene of someone sitting in a semi-comfy chair giving the same old terrible explanation of what it does.

    I enjoy your blog Nick! Thank you for taking the time to create it and work on it!

  28. I very much agree that we watch these shows because they are all there is, even though we know perfectly well that they are 95% crap, 4% pap,(filler,) and 1% nifty pictures of stuff we'd like to see closer and in more detail. I myself voraciously devour episodes of Ancient Aliens simply because I enjoy the footage of places like Puma Punku and Chichen Itza, and I've often watched mainstream documentaries about these places, only to find myself yelling at the screan to pan back and show me that inscription or frieze a little closer. One learns to find a certain level of entertainment too in mocking the 95% crap, as you've done delightfully here. (I found your site by googling "why do paranormal investigators always say "what the hell was that?!" It was a ghost, you dolt. Tighten your pampers, level your shaking camera, and stop bein' such a pussy. Seriously. ;D )