The life of a television series is rather odd. Sometimes you’ll see a show that works and you think it is rather good. Everyone is talking about it and can’t wait until the next episode. Then before you know it, it’s canceled. Other shows are God awful and you can’t find a single person that enjoys it yet it stays on the air for fifteen years. Coming in third would be the series that has a decent thing going and manages just enough to stay on the air for a second season and maybe beyond. You like the concept of the show, but it just didn’t quite do it for you and there was hope it would correct the problems it has in its second go round. Hope. That’s what I had for the second season of Paranormal State. Emphasis on the word “had.”
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, thats even what the commercials on television would lead you to believe about Paranormal State. But they couldnt 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, Im not kidding and dont 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 clients 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.
Right after watching a couple of episodes, it is evident that Paranormal State worked a lot on making their show a little bit creepier and focusing more on what is happening in the cases instead of the whole religious aspect of everything. It appears that Ryan and his crew have begun taking on some truly serious cases and those that make for a much frightening atmosphere than what was evident in season one. His questioning of the clients also makes sure to focus on what is going on in their homes, the types of haunts, and if they are affecting the everyday lives of the inhabitants. I like those changes because it keeps the pinpoints of the series where they should be and that’s with the spirits and trying to help the people in need.
Sadly those corrections aren’t enough to make this series any less annoying or frustrating. I don’t like how forceful they act and how harsh they get with the spirits in the house just trying to get a reaction from them. The same thing is done on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and it bugs me to no end. Things get rolling along just fine and then the PRS team decides to act incredibly stupid and tell the homeowners to “channel all their energy and take their house back.”
Ok, don’t go saying I’m spoiled by the Ghost Hunters either and I compare everything to them because of my affection for the series. The things done on that show are just done correctly and in ways that just make a lot more sense. For instance, only allowing two people in the dwelling at a time to make sure that any sounds heard aren’t by other members of the team just is intelligent. PRS puts team members in almost every room of the dwelling including having the technical team set up in their own room at all times too. The slightest noise is heard and everyone is on their walkies going, “Was that you?” That’s only a small amount of things that is wrong with this series and while it has improved in some aspects, it still continues to make me want to rip my ears off and my eyes out.
Good Vs. Evil
Smoke & Shadows
Hide And Seek
I Am Six
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 fine. Those sound effects really cheapen up any legitimacy they find.
Behind The Scenes – The first part of this feature is actually from the San Diego Comic-Con where the members of PRS sat down for a panel to answer questions and such from the fans. The gang showed the premiere episode from season two before fielding questions. Wow, some of the kids that go talk to them are serious teeny-boppers that do the annoying squeal and shriek when meeting PRS. Other segments include bringing in psychics, debunking spirit photos, and some of the scarier moments during investigations. I like this featurette a lot because it shows a lot of candid stuff that is usually excluded from the series itself. (18:49)
Up Close And Personal With The Members Of PRS – These are more behind the scenes and candid pieces of footage along with interviews from different members of PRS. It’s actually kind of weird. Especially when the group finds a replica of Stonehenge and performs a strange PAGAN skit in it. The group also discusses their personal fears and some outtakes are shown. (5:13)
Additional Footage – Some extra footage is shown for the Civil War house, raising interest in paranormal investigations, Chad Calek, strange lights aka UFOS, and that’s about it. Nothing really much here. (7:53)
Paranormal State has improved a whole rating from my review of the first season so maybe they’re doing something right, but they have a hell of a lot of work to do to get watchable. There are a few parts of each episode that have gotten better and it appears as if the PRS team is learning, but they insist in keeping the spiritual aspect of the show intact and that is what’s hurting it. And by spiritual, I don’t mean of the paranormal kind but of the religious kind. It may draw a lot of fans; but if you are doing anything with ghosts and can’t get the attention of paranormal junkie Danny Cox, then you’ve got to make some changes because I know plenty other horror nuts that can’t stand to watch even a single episode of this series. The special features are a little better then those from the first season but don’t provide more then thirty minutes of extra footage. So maybe this season isn’t as useless as the first season in which the discs make awesome drink coasters, but I still wouldn’t shell out a penny to watch anything paranormal (?) from Paranormal State.
A&E Home Video presents Paranormal State: The Complete Season Two. Directed by: Bradley Beesley. Starring: Ryan Buell, Chip Coffey, Shannon Sylvia, and many others. Running time: 244 minutes on 2 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: January 20, 2009. Available at Amazon.com