Halloween is fast approaching and Discovery has responded by adding yet another program to its stable of boring reality shows — this one focused on ghosts. “Ghost Lab” follows a pair of brothers, Brad and Barry Klinge, in their attempts to discover paranormal activity across the United States. The bros and their team travel in a “ghost lab,” or an oversized car hauler equipped with the latest detection equipment — thermal imaging cameras, photo analysis stations — so they can hunt for ghosts on the go. The group travels to locations where spirits are rumored to dwell and attempts to scientifically record any unusual activity.

“Ghost Lab”

Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Discovery Channel

Brad and Barry Klinge are really into ghosts. The episode begins with a reverentially told story of their induction into the paranormal world: During a 1990 vacation at Gettysburg, they witnessed a group of Union soldiers on the battlefield. They walked closer to investigate and realized that … no soldiers were there! This landmark event led to the creation of the group Everyday Paranormal — a club in which the members search for ghosts and wear shirts that say “Everyday Paranormal” on the back. From the seeds of Everyday Paranormal, the concept of “Ghost Lab” was sprung.

The extreme lengths the brothers go to while attempting to locate paranormal activity are amusing, despite being (and possibly because they are so) absurd. For instance, the cast goes to the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium — the famed spot where Elvis began his music career — and begins to perform rockabilly songs in order to coax any lingering spirits out of hiding. Later in the first episode, the gang travels to Myrtles Plantation (“one of America’s most haunted homes”) and plays recordings of people reading Civil War-era letters. These methods have dubious results, but any blip on the radar or whispered voice is met with jubilation: The brothers high-five and hug each other at anything that’s slightly out of the ordinary. Their reactions in their ghost search are much more entertaining than the ghost search itself, primarily because they never find anything real, yet their reactions are always so joyous.

Adding to the failure are the faux-scientific interludes, wedged into “Ghost Lab” at random points seemingly in an attempt to establish academic credibility. Long shots of the “investigators” bending over complicated-looking scientific equipment and urgently discussing deviations in their instruments are a constant in “Ghost Lab.” When Brad and Barry seem on the verge of discovering the ghost of a dead child, the last thing anyone wants is an interruption to explain the parallel universe theory of quantum physics. And nobody wants to see an interview with a random history professor as he reviews the Civil War in excruciating detail; while possibly informative, it’s related tangentially at best to riding around in an oversized car hauler searching for ghosts.

But the show’s biggest flaw is its utter inability to achieve competence as a piece of documentary work, in large part because there are no clear signs of paranormal activity throughout it. And it’s not even amusing enough to watch simply to mock. While the concept is interesting, the coupling of complete inactivity with pompous academic explanations leads to a “Ghost Lab” that blinds its viewers with failure.

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