Guest Blogger Chris Imms on ‘Ghost Hunters’ and ‘Ghost Adventures’: Geeky Ghosties vs. Frat Boy Frighteners

20 09 2010

To honor last Friday’s premiere of the new season of Ghost Adventures, guest blogger Chris Imms set out to compare two popular ghost shows. Go watch some TV that creeps you out—’tis finally Halloween season!

In 2004, at the height of TV’s reality boom, the SyFy Channel (then the less brandable SciFi Channel) aired a new reality show featuring two Roto-Rooter plumbers who, on their days off, explore haunted places looking for ghosts. The show was aptly called Ghost Hunters. Jump to 2008, when the Travel Channel was just coming into its own. The network featured food and travel shows, but it was looking for something new. Luckily, it came across a documentary featuring three 20-somethings who were finding proof of paranormal activity. After the documentary received high ratings on SyFy, a new reality show called Ghost Adventures premiered on the Travel Channel. The new season of Ghost Adventures began last Friday, so I thought it would be nice to take a look at the two shows that have corned the market in telling real ghost stories.

What started in a little shack in Warwick, Rhode Island, grew to a worldwide phenomenon that includes magazines, hotels, a clothing line, and two spin-off shows. Ghost Hunters features the adventures of Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who created The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS for short) to try and find evidence of supernatural phenomenon. In the beginning, TAPS was based out of Jason Hawes’s backyard. The group’s use of high-tech equipment and its unique method of finding evidence set it apart from other ghost groups and made it perfect for a reality show.

The Ghost Hunters do not try to prove that ghosts exist in a place. In fact, they attempt just the opposite. Evidence is not taken at face value, but is scrutinized to determine if it could have a normal explanation using a scientific method and specialized equipment. However, as the show progressed, it became less like a reality show and more like a police procedural.

Ghost Adventures is a fast-paced show with high energy. It stars Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin, friends who gained fame with a 2006 documentary of the three of them trying to find supernatural activity in Nevada. The documentary’s footage of a full body apparition became Nevada state news. While Ghost Hunters is known for its scientific methods, Ghost Adventures‘s recognition comes from sensationalism. If the Hunters hear an unknown sound, scientific equipment comes out. But if the Adventurers do, unscientific curses come out. This highly excitable way of paranormal searching has earned them the name “the frat boys of the ghost world.”

Ghost Adventures feels very visceral because of the way it is shot. Ghost Hunters is filmed with at least three camera crews and sound people, but Ghost Adventures‘s sound and camera crew is just the three main guys. They are only people in these haunted places, and that adds to the fear. They know they are the only people around, so if they are not causing the sounds, what is? In Ghost Hunters, they are always checking to see who could have made the sound. When your first reaction is not fear, but instead debunking it, it dials down the scariness. When something happens in Adventures they know it is not them and that legitimately freaks them out, which freaks you out too. The problem is that they freak out a lot, which causes the cam to feel shaky. If you get motion sick, you may not want to watch this show.

Another reason I like Ghost Adventures is how they display evidence. With Ghost Hunters, three-fourths of the show features the guys collecting evidence and personal experiences at the haunted area. Then they go back review the evidence and try to match it with past experience. I find myself fast forwarding to the end of the episode because I do not like seeing the evidence twice. Ghost Adventures immediately shows you the evidence by replaying the last few moments of the experience with enhanced audio. Maybe I just don’t like waiting for paranormal gratification, but it creates a more thrilling show. When things start happening, you wait for the replay to hear or see “the good stuff.”

In the end I like and dislike both shows for completely different reasons. I like Ghost Hunters for its scientific way of ghost hunting, and how it tries to take something on the fringe of science and make it legitimate. However, I feel the process of gathering evidence is too dragged out, especially when they only have one case per episode instead of two. Sometimes I find myself flipping channels and hoping I come back to an exciting part, which usually doesn’t happen. On the other hand, I really like the unorthodox way Ghost Adventures is filmed, but the suspense sometimes turns into juvenile shouting and cursing and really detracts from the legitimacy of the evidence. In the end, I think there is room on TV for both types—one scientific show, one sensational—and I hope they continue for a very long time.

Chris Imms, a graduate of Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, majored in theatre studies. After graduating, he realized he hated technical theatre work and pursued his other loves, radio and TV. He has been in the “Newstainment” industry for the last 5 years, and has worked in morning radio and local television in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina. He is currently the producer of the Ron Smith Show, a talk opinion show which airs on weekdays from 9 AM to noon on WBAL Radio in Baltimore, MD. Chris is an avid fan of media, news, and pop culture. In fact, he claims that one of his first memories was Michael Dukakis’s failed tank stunt in 1988. He currently resides in Damascus, MD with his fiancée, Heather.




5 responses

20 09 2010
Guest Blogger Chris Imms on 'Ghost Hunters' and 'Ghost Adventures … | Haunting Investigations

[…] rest is here: Guest Blogger Chris Imms on 'Ghost Hunters' and 'Ghost Adventures … Share and […]

9 11 2010
Guest Blog: Syfy wins (and fails) with ‘Sharktopus’ « Jess Blogs TV

[…] For Chris’s bio, see his first guest blog. […]

3 12 2010
Check out the trailer for ‘Grave Encounters’ « Jess Blogs TV

[…] guys seemed to love Chris Imms’ guest blog on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures—in fact, it’s one of Jess Blogs TV’s top ten most-viewed posts of all time. So, […]

26 08 2011

Ghost Adventures is pretty awesome.. best show in the whole paranormal committee, but Ghost Hunters… makes me want to puke.

13 11 2013
Chris Dowgin

I never liked shows like this but I enjoy tours like this Salem ghost tour. the guides do not whisper or get excited. You see things or you don’t…

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