Paranormal television

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Paranormal television is a genre of reality television. Its scope comprises purportedly factual investigations of paranormal phenomena, rather than fictional representations found in such shows as The Ghosts of Motley Hall and Ghostbusters, or cartoon/children's series such as Scooby-Doo and Rentaghost.

History[edit]

Accounts of supernatural occurrences have always been common in the print media. The 1705 pamphlet "A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs Veal" by Daniel Defoe is a well-known example. Local TV news programs in the UK and USA have featured ghost stories since the 1960s. Paranormal television arose from this tradition.

One of the earliest paranormal TV shows was In Search Of..., hosted by Leonard Nimoy which ran for six years from 1976. Rod Serling was originally slated to host the series, but he died in 1975. In Search Of... explored many paranormal topics, including UFOs, cryptozoological creatures (cryptids), lost civilizations, and other mysteries. Though the subject matter gradually lost popularity, the show gave way to future TV series following the same genre.

Ghostwatch, a fictional news broadcast about a haunted house in the UK that aired in 1992, created controversy when a majority of viewers believed the televised show was real.

Discovery Channel started to explore the genre with some success from 1996. The Fox Broadcasting Company had a news-style oriented show, Sightings, that was hosted by Tim White and this show lasted for six years. MTV's Fear premiered in 2000, establishing the visual look and editing style followed by most paranormal reality television show. In 2002, the British satellite channel Living TV launched the ghost-hunting series Most Haunted. Its success helped spawn other shows on the channel, including Dead Famous and Jane Goldman Investigates, and the channel developed a distinctive identity based on paranormal programming. The production company responsible for these programs, Antix, also produced two series of Spook School which followed the investigators of Para-Projects as they teach members of the public how to become paranormal investigators themselves.[citation needed]

Reactions/critics[edit]

Noting the recent trend in reality shows that take the paranormal at face value, New York Times Culture editor Mike Hale[1] characterized ghost hunting shows as "pure theater" and compared the genre to professional wrestling or soft core pornography for its formulaic, teasing approach.[2]

LA Times staff writer Ed Stockly wrote that "the paranormal/supernatural-investigation subgenre that has cropped up on cable television over the last few years, which includes Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters International and a few others" promises to "take a skeptical approach in its investigations and to rely on science to confirm or disprove paranormal claims. So far not one has been able to consistently keep that promise."[3]

Programs[edit]

Program[me] Original Run Years (Premiere–Finale) Original Channel/Network
6ixth Sense with Colin Fry 2002 Living TV (UK)
Alien Mysteries 2013 Discovery Channel (Canada)
Ancient Mysteries 1994–1998 A&E
The Antiques Ghost Show 2003 Living TV (UK)
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World 1980 ITV
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe 1995 ITV
Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers 1985 ITV
America's Haunted Castles 2005 Travel Channel
Beyond 2005 Space (Canada)
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction 1997–2002 Fox
Creepy Canada 2002–2006 OLN (Canada)
Celebrity Ghost Hunt 2011 Biography Channel
Celebrity Ghost Stories 2009–present Biography Channel
Crossing Over with John Edward 1999–2004 SyFy
Dead Famous 2004–2006 Living TV (UK)
Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns 2005-2006 Living TV (UK), Travel Channel
Destination Truth 2007–2012 Syfy
Encounters: The Hidden Truth 1991 Fox Network
The Extraordinary 1993–1996 7 Network (AUS)
Extreme Paranormal 2009 A&E Network
Extreme Ghost Stories 2006 ITV1 (UK) (2007 on WE tv in the USA)
Exploring the Unknown 1999 Saban Entertainment, Fox Kids
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files 2010-2012 Syfy
Fenómeno 2000 RTP2, Mínima Ideia (Portugal)
Fortean TV 1997–1998 Channel 4
Ghost Adventures 2008–present Travel Channel
Ghost Hunt 2005–2006 TV2 (New Zealand)
Ghost Hunters 2004–present Syfy
Ghost Hunters Academy 2009–2010 Syfy
Ghost Hunters International 2007–2012 Syfy
Ghost Lab 2009–2011 Discovery Channel
Ghost Mine 2013 Syfy
Ghost Stories 1997–1998 FOX Family
Ghost Stories 2009–2010 Travel Channel
Ghost Story 2006 (UK)
Ghost Trackers 2006 YTV
Ghosthunters 1996 Discovery Channel Europe
Ghostly Encounters 2009–present Viva/W Network (Canada), A&E Network, Biography Channel
The Girly Ghosthunters 2005 Space (Canada)
The Haunted 2009–2011 Animal Planet
Haunted Collector 2011–2013 Syfy
Haunted Houses: Tortured Souls & Restless Spirits 2005 Biography Channel
Haunted Highway 2012-present Syfy
Haunted History 1998–2008 History Channel, Biography Channel
Haunted History 2013-present H2
Haunted Homes 2006 ITV
(America's) Haunted Hotels 2001–2005 Travel Channel
Haunted Lighthouses of America 2006 Travel Channel
Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories 1991–1995 CBS, UPN
A Haunting 2005–2007
2012-present
Discovery Channel
Destination America
Haunting Evidence 2006 Court TV
I'm Famous and Frightened! 2004 Living TV (UK)
In Search Of... 1976–1982
Investigations of the Unexplained 2007 Travel Channel
James Randi: Psychic Investigator 1991 ITV Granada
Jane Goldman Investigates 2003 Living TV
Killer Contact 2013 SyFy
Miracles and Other Wonders 1990s
MonsterQuest 2007–2010 History
Monsters and Mysteries in America 2013-present Destination America
Most Haunted 2002–2010, 2013-Present Living (UK), Paranormal Channel (UK), Travel Channel, Really (TV channel) (UK)
Most Haunted Live! 2002-2010 Living TV (UK), Paranormal Channel (UK), Travel Channel
Most Terrifying Places in America 2009-2010 Travel Channel
MTV's Fear 2000–2002 MTV
My Ghost Story 2010–2013
2013-present
Biography Channel
LMN
My Ghost Story Asia 2012– Biography Channel (Asia)
Mystery Hunters 2002–2006 Discovery Networks, YTV
MysteryQuest 2009 History
Nachtwakers
(Official site)
2011–present RTV Oost (Netherlands)
One Step Beyond 1959–1961 ABC
Paranormal? 2005 National Geographic Channel
Paranormal Challenge 2011 Travel Channel
Paranormal Cops 2010 A&E Network
Paranormal State 2006–2011 A&E Network
Paranormal State: The New Class 2010 A&E Network
Paranormal Witness 2011–present Syfy
Patrick Macnee's Ghost Stories 1997
Proof Positive 2004 Syfy
Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal 1996–2000 (Canada)
Psychic Detectives 2004-2008 Court TV
Psychic Kids 2008-2010 A&E
Psychic Witness 2005 Discovery Channel
Raaz 2009 Rohi Tv (Pakistan)
Scared! 2002
Scare Week
(Teasers/Previews at youtube)
2013 Beat 102 103
Scariest Places on Earth 2001–2006 ABC Family
Scary...But True 2001 Syfy, YTV, Chiller
Scream Team 2002 Living TV
Sightings 1992–1997 Fox Network, Syfy, syndicated television
The Sleep of Reason with Steve Bell 2007 Studio Universal
Spook School 2007–2008 Unexplained Channel, Antix Productions
Stranded 2013 Syfy
Strange But True? 1993–1997 ITV
Strange Universe 1996 UPN, syndicated television
That's Incredible! 1980–1984 ABC
The Othersiders 2009–2010 Cartoon Network
The Other Side 2014–present APTN (Canada)
The Unexplained 2009 Biography Channel
The UneXplained 2011 Biography Channel
True Horror with Anthony Head (2004 TV series) 2004 Discovery Channel UK
Truth or Scare 2001–2003 Discovery Kids, The Hub
UFO Abductions 1991
Unexplained Canada 2006 Space
Unexplained Mysteries 2003–2004 syndicated television
Unsolved Mysteries 1987–1997
1997–1999
2001–2002
2008–2010
NBC
CBS
Lifetime
Spike TV
Weird or What? 2010–present Discovery Channel
History Television (Canada)
Weird Travels 2003–2006 Travel Channel
World's Scariest Ghosts Caught on Tape 1990s ABC
Wuh kya hai? (also written as Woh kia hai? etc.) 2009–present Express (Pakistan)
Åndenes Makt (Power of the Spirits)
(Official site)
2005–present TVN (Norway)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mike Hale, Editor, The New York Times". New York Times Knowledge Network. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Hale, Mike (December 10, 2009). "Consigning Reality to Ghosts". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "TV Skeptic: 'Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files' looks at the real 'Battle of L.A.' - latimes.com". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-07-14. The show is a part of the paranormal/supernatural-investigation subgenre that has cropped up on cable television over the last few years, which includes “Ghost Hunters,” “Destination Truth,” “Ghost Adventures,” “Ghost Hunters International” and a few others. Each promises to take a skeptical approach in its investigations and to rely on science to confirm or disprove paranormal claims. So far not one has been able to consistently keep that promise.