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You know there have been many shows that I was excited about seeing and either missed because of work or just totally forgot about. By the time my memory caught up with me, they had been cancelled or were already so far in that it would be impossible for me to catch up with all that was going on. Then there are the shows for which my anticipation was growing more and more as the time for its debut to approach. Some of those series are staples in my television watching today. Others have angered me. A few have disappointed me. But never had one actually insulted me. Until now.
There are a number of paranormal shows on television today. Destination Truth, The Haunting, and perhaps the most well known one of all, Ghost Hunters. All of them investigate paranormal activity and ghosts in their own ways and with their own methods. That is where we could start talking about the Paranormal Research Society (PRS) of Penn State University who are the focus group of Paranormal State. Ryan Buell is the leader of this group and faced some very strange paranormal situations as a child, and therefore would like to get to the bottom of them by helping others with the same affliction. Together with a band of other believers and experts, Ryan goes out to help people figure out what is tormenting their lives and do whatever they can to get rid of it.
Sounds pretty simple and straightforward like any other ghost investigating show right? I mean, that’s even what the commercials on television would lead you to believe about Paranormal State. But they couldn’t be more wrong. This is a series that is about religion and a group of kids trying to spread the Word of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. No, I’m not kidding and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise because that is exactly what this show is about.
The PRS get a phone call from someone in need of their assistance to get rid of some evil being or to find out why a place is haunted. The usual itinerary consists of a group from PRS heading over to the client’s place, setting up shop for about two and a half days, asking a lot of questions, and then blessing the place before they leave. Mind you that they barely do any investigating at all of the actual haunting grounds, and the only time they actually do that is between three and four in the morning which they consider “dead time.” Dead time is supposedly the time when spirits are most active. Some footsteps, a whisper or two, and then the next thing you know holy water is sprinkled all over the place.
Paranormal State is a show about college kids performing life-changing therapy and spreading their gospel, but it’s masquerading as a paranormal investigation show. They sit the clients down and ask them about their personal lives, ask them private and intimate questions, and even tell people to clean up their lives. Ryan even has the audacity to tell one woman to clean up her trailer home because it will help show the evil spirit that she was cleaning up her life. Mind you the woman’s home was a total pigsty, but he casually told her she was a slob but in different words. This is without mentioning that the group had thrown their religion on the family so much that the woman took her kids and had them baptized after visiting with PRS. It’s a God forsaken religious cult is what it is.
Let me also tell you all about how incredibly inaccurate the entire PRS is. They are constantly contradicting themselves by saying one thing at one time and then saying the exact opposite a few minutes later. A group of them were investigating during “dead time” one night and heard footsteps along with heavy breathing, but no-one in the room was doing either. Later on they listen to the EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) and say that “there is a good EVP with the footsteps being caught on it.” Jackasses…EVPs are sounds or voices that can’t be heard with the human ear until played back on an electric taping device that picked them up. So the footsteps you heard during your séance (which you told the homeowner you would not do), do not constitute an EVP.
It is just incredibly insulting to think that these people may truly believe they are hunting down paranormal activity when all they are doing is being a bunch of Bible throwers. I did forget to tell you just how annoying the entire production of the series is as well. Ryan does these random narrations called “director logs” in which he says little things here and there about the case while sounding like he is on a cell phone with bad reception. All of the members of PRS are very inept and entirely unqualified to even call themselves ghost hunters. My guess is that anyone who was turned down by TAPS (Ghost Hunters) tried finding someone to take their case and stumbled across the PRS. It’s a real shame that their haunts are being totally ignored, but at least they got a good Sunday School class out of it and some most likely faked haunted effects.
The Devil In Syracuse
Man Of The House
Beer, Wine, & Spirits
School House Haunting
The Haunted Piano
The Woman In The Window
The Boy And The Barn
The episodes are shown in Widescreen format and look alright. Some of the footage is shown through a handheld camera that appears to be held by someone who has Parkinson’s disease because it is shaky as all hell.
The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and if it weren’t for the purposely horrible sounding effects; all would sound just gravy.
Audio Commentaries – The cast gets together for commentary tracks on “The Name,” “Beer, Wine, & Spirits,” and “Mothman!” Let me just tell you now that listening to these commentary tracks is a complete joke. They joke around and sound horribly young here (which they are), but it shows while listening to them talk.
Behind The Scenes – This feature is eleven minutes and thirty-nine seconds long and simply takes a look at everything that is PRS. Ryan goes into a little detail about the different technical things they have to do and some of the equipment they use on their “hunts.” Ryan also gives a little insight as to how the group was actually formed. I find it really odd that PRS was formed only five days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Getting To Know The Members Of PRS – All of the members of PRS sit down for a few minutes each in this feature lasting a little over twelve minutes. They talk about who they are and how they got started in PRS. Boring.
Guest Experts – This feature lasts just over seven minutes and simply profiles all those “experts” who have joined PRS for some of their investigations. Unfortunately that means more of Chip Coffey who is one of the most irritating people ever.
Additional Footage – Some behind the scenes footage is shown which I guess is supposed to be taken in a candid manner. They talk about playing practical jokes and picking on one another which isn’t funny because it all looks totally set up. Ryan continues to use words that are too big and descriptive for him so he seems like a Dawson’s Creek cast off. Some more conversation goes on about their scariest cases, Penn State activities, and even one about whether Darth Vader wears pants or not. Please watch this if simply for the fact that you will see how big of dorks these kids are. I know I am, but my God. This feature lasts close to sixteen minutes.
There is absolutely nothing appealing about this series whatsoever. Being a freakishly huge fan of Ghost Hunters and loving anything to do with the paranormal, I at least expected this to be somewhat decent. I can’t believe how wrong I was when Paranormal State showed its true colors as being just a group of Christian kids trying to spread their religious word and trying to be psychiatrists for people. The shows are so ludicrous and insanely preachy that I watched all of them with my mouth open in shock and my mind screaming for me to stop the torture immediately. If you are able to focus on any type of paranormal activity in this show when they are preaching, praying, counseling, and not even showing anything paranormal of any sort…then I applaud you. I applaud your imagination because you have to make up whatever things paranormal you are paying attention too. The episodes are boring and actually quite frustrating because of how bold these kids are. Here they are giving lectures and sermons to people, but I feel as if it’s me they are trying to convert. All of the special features are just as useless mainly because it involves people I can’t stand. Avoid this and watch one episode of Ghost Hunters. You’ll be hooked immediately and not worry about being told you’re a sinner or heathen for sitting on your sofa in just your underwear.
A&E Home Video presents Paranormal State: The Complete Season One. Directed by: Bradley Beesley. Starring: Ryan Buell, Chip Coffey, Shannon Sylvia, and many others. Running time: 460 minutes on 3 discs. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: April 29, 2008. Available at Amazon.com