From all evidence, it seems reasonable to conclude that the target audience the producers had in mind for “Ghost Hunters Academy” includes individuals either dead and buried; dead and cremated; or alive, gullible and overly excitable.

“Ghost Hunters Academy”

Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Syfy

A cheap knockoff of the already rather cheap “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Hunters Academy” takes five trainees through the metaphysical investigation process, placing them under the wing of lead investigators Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango. At the end of the season, one of the five may be chosen to take a position on Gonsalves and Tango’s TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) team.

These seven ghost hunters then travel to a location of phantasmic relevance and spend the night setting up camera equipment and “investigating” the various rooms and buildings. This inspection takes up about three quarters of “Ghost Hunters Academy,” leaving about ten minutes for the evidence to be analyzed by trainees and leaders alike.

One unfortunate truth about the “investigation” or “hunting” in “Ghost Hunters Academy” is that it mostly consists of nothing more than two grown men talking to an empty room and holding out a tape recorder in the most depressingly desperate way. One of the teams of student investigators is berated when its group members give up on a room after only 40 minutes of sitting and staring at nothing, talking to the air only to discover that it started to rain outside. If even the completely invested — and paid — ghost enthusiasts onscreen are getting bored, then what possible interest can the rest of us be expected to muster?

Moreover, even when the investigations do pan out, it’s hard to find a hell of a lot of shock factor in rubbing noises, a ghost sigh (these guys are breathing in an enclosed space — come on!), supposedly heard footsteps (which, strangely, are never validated by all that recording equipment) and one of the trainees feeling something brush his arm (funny how unverifiable it is for those watching).

It’s all well and good to stress the danger of the power of suggestion to the recruits. But then they shamelessly use it on the audience, mentioning that something on an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) recording sounds a lot like the name of one of the rookies. Of course, one is far more likely to hear something like “Ben Smith” if one replays the noise with this statement in mind. And the subtitles manipulatively tacked on to the show’s recording of fuzz don’t hurt either. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many times the instigators gasp or the clairvoyant breaks down into tears because of what she “senses” — it’s nearly impossible to get excited.

The thing that’s most irksome about “Ghost Hunters Academy” is the way the show attempts to prove how factual and scientific it is, without even putting a half-assed degree of effort toward objectivity. It’s this claim of validity — not the lack of it — that really shit-ifies this specimen of television. One would think the recruit majoring in biological science or the one majoring in visual technology would recognize the bloody slaughter and sacrifice being made of the scientific method. But, apparently, education is wasted on the superstitious.

Basically, the hunting in “Ghost Hunters Academy” is tiresome enough to make the show dull rather than anything worth hating. After an hour of sitting and watching others sit and watch nothing, it’s hard to work up the energy to care enough about this debacle of authenticity, or to really loath it with any sort of passion. Even still, a healthy dose of disgruntled apathy is fully in order.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.