Case Number 18948: Small Claims Court


Image Entertainment // 2004 // 218 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // May 21st, 2010

The Charge

Prepare to be scared with these 100% real investigations.

Opening Statement

Then prepare to demand 100% of your money back.

Facts of the Case

Grant Wilson and Jason Hawes may be plumbers by day, but their nocturnal activities have made them world-famous. Founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), they investigate paranormal activity throughout the country by using electronic devices and first-hand site experience.

Ghost Hunters: Military Investigations is a two-disc set compiling five military-themed location episodes into a single package:

* "Ft. Mifflin"
Built in 1771 on the shores of the Delaware River, this historical fort has a long and rich history full of unexplained events.

* "Wright-Patterson Airforce Base"
The famed location of the Wright Brothers famous flight testing and one of the largest bases in the United States, Wright-Patterson has a haunted history.

* "USS Hornet"
TAPS travels to Alameda, California, to the USS Hornet, a decommissioned aircraft carrier with a long history of paranormal activity.

* "Race Rock Lighthouse"
TARP visits a Coast Guard lighthouse in Fishers Island, New York.

* "New Bedford Armory"
A castle-like structure built in 1903 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, TARP visit the decommissioned armory to investigate reports of paranormal activity.

The Evidence

I love how Jason and Grant are plumbers by day. This is my favorite part of Ghost Hunters. It suggests a total lack of pretense on their part, as if to imply that paranormal hunters are made, not born -- ghost-hunting plumbers who drive around in an A-Team style van, with TAPS written on the outside in A-Team font. It's so gloriously trashy.

Well, that was the positive part. Now onto the parts of Ghost Hunters that are terrible: everything else. Heaven knows I'm not the first person to criticize this long-running SyFy show. Credulity is not this show's strong point. Now in its sixth season, the show is incomprehensibly popular in North America. People just plain love it. What they love, I have no idea. Each episode seems less and less informative than the one that previously came before. A bunch of guys sit in a dark room, listen for bumps and groans, and excitedly whisper to each other about all the cool things they're experiencing -- and none of them are captured on camera.

SyFy calls the show a "docu-soap," because early episodes of the show gave equal billing to the supernatural with the interpersonal relationships and conflicts between the TAPS team. As for scientific methodology, forget about it; the team uses Geiger counters and homemade electronic devices that bleep and bloop at random intervals, which are interpreted in any manner of dramatic ways to prove (or rarely disprove) paranormal activity.

"Okay, we're in an empty room. ARE THERE ANY SPIRITS HERE?"
"Hey, did you hear that? Sounds like spirits."
"Oh yeah, sure did."

Meanwhile, the audience says "WHAT? I didn't hear anything."

And so on. The most shocking moment, relatively speaking, is in the "Race Rock Lighthouse" episode, but honestly, it's pretty tame -- weird, but hardly conclusive or measurable proof of anything supernatural. How much you believe is up to you. Suspension of disbelief is crucial to enjoyment of this show. Unfortunately, this Judge wasn't able to suspend it.

Back when I was making plumber jokes? There's a grain of non-sarcasm there, especially when you compare Ghost Hunters to other similarly themed shows like A&E's Paranormal State, a show I find horrendous beyond comprehension. At least Ghost Hunters never takes itself too seriously, never tries to bring in psychic healers to fix things and "cure" people of their paranormal situation. Ghost Hunters honestly feels like two ex-plumbers who managed to take a hobby and turn it into a full-time gig. They really seem to like their job, and refrain from making as wild speculation as other shows. I guess that's a plus.

From a technical perspective, this is a pretty straightforward treatment: full frame, stereo dialogue, little in the way of frills. The episode content is collected from episodes across four seasons of the show, so older episodes look a bit worse for wear than newer ones. Colors are washed, black levels are so-so and there is a fair amount of grain evident throughout the picture, but it works with the gritty, shot-in-the-dark atmosphere of the show. The stereo transfer does the job with clear dialogue, decent bass response, and overly atmospheric music highlighting the, ahem, tension.

Extras are slim. The packaging claims bonus footage and deleted scenes are included, but there is no menu option for the extra content. It may be included in the episodes themselves. The second disc contains a second "thank you" video message to the U.S. military from Jason and Grant, but that's it.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I'm not saying there's no such thing as supernatural activity -- so please don't e-mail me with such accusations -- but I am extremely skeptical that pointing a video camera in the dark for a cable television show is going to capture anything worth discussing. Call it a paranormal Schrödinger's Cat. If it was that easy to prove or detect, odds are we'd be hearing more about it in the newspaper.

Closing Statement

People pay money for this? There are literally entire networks worth of programming that I'd rather be watching.

The Verdict


Review content copyright © 2010 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 218 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Video Message

* IMDb

* Official Site