Ghost Hunters

Season 5 Episode 18

Congress Theater

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Oct 21, 2009 on Syfy

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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out of 10
32 votes
  • Finally some skepticism

    I love investigating theatres. They are full of so many acoustic issues and other easily-misinterpreted items, but they are just fun to explore. The older and bigger they are, the more nooks and crannies there are to find. That's why I love it when TAPS investigates a theatre and devotes an entire hour to it.

    I especially like it when the investigation actually comes across pretty well in the final edit. If this had been the first episode of "Ghost Hunters" I had ever seen, I might have wondered what all the criticisms were about. They spent a lot of time at the reveal playing down the "evidence", which is not something we usually see. (And it makes me wonder if it happens more often than the editors bother to show).

    I might as well focus on the reveal first, because I was sure this was all going to be easily explained. I was expecting the client to jump all over every single piece of "evidence" like it was confirmation of every story he had ever heard about the place. Particularly when Tango mentioned that he thought he saw "reflective sneakers" on a figure that he and Steve were chasing; I was reminded of the client's footwear in particular. So I was surprised when the client accepted some of the mundane explanations and caveats without much comment. I was expecting his reactions to confirm my suspicions.

    I still have reasons for being skeptical. For one, the client seemed very, very invested in the notion of the theatre being haunted in the beginning of the episode. Assuming that the tour was filmed before the investigation (not always true), I wondered if the client might have been tempted to help things along throughout the night. The team seemed to spend a lot of time chasing down shadowy figures and loud bangs, after all.

    There was also the incredibly public welcome message on the marquee. I know that a production like "Ghost Hunters" must have security on-site, but how far in advance did the locals know that TAPS was coming? I don't know any theatre that doesn't have its share of secret entrances and exits (usually used by teenagers trying to get in without paying). I wouldn't put it past the less mature members of the audience to attempt to interfere with the production, especially since we know it has happened during other well-publicized events.

    It would explain a lot of what was captured, including the thermal footage. It looked just like someone walking past a doorway, right down to the temperature of the figures in question. Of course, there's the small matter of the DVR cameras that would have captured anyone who was sneaking around. Since we don't see the associated DVR footage side-by-side with the thermal images, to confirm that no one was there, it's impossible to be sure.

    But I did like how equivocal they were about the potential EVPs. They didn't try to sell them as voices, and they accepted the possibility that they were natural sounds for the location. That was definitely the right call, especially since the sounds were buried in the background noise. Usually they are a lot more enthusiastic about anything remotely EVP-like, so it was a nice change of pace.

    I was also pleased to see them using some new equipment, even if it looked like they just through something together to satisfy some of the more critical fans. The opening of the episode was very deceptive; didn't they hint that the new datalogging system would yield something interesting?

    In any case, datalogging is a very good idea in these situations, and including video with the datalogging is also a good idea. It merges environmental data gathering with location monitoring, which is often accomplished through spot-checks. Having documentation of real-time change is much better from a scientific point of view. The question is whether or not the right instruments are being used, if the instruments are being arrayed correctly, and if the investigators understand what the data is telling them. We really didn't see the output in any detail, and they didn't seem to understand how barometric pressure works. Tango walking around a room should not change the barometric pressure!

    They may not have found much at this particular location, but it was a great site to investigate. I only wish that the reserved stance taken in this case's reveal was the norm instead of the exception.