This has been a difficult season for "Ghost Hunters". After the controversies of the 2008 Halloween event, it seemed like the show was playing a more conservative game. That didn't last, and every so often, a new controversy would emerge, from the MacNeill conflict to the Donna LeCroix fiasco. Yet TAPS and "Ghost Hunters" continue to march on, and there is at least a 27-episode sixth season coming in 2010. (As well as a return of both "Ghost Hunters International" and "Ghost Hunters Academy".)
The show has been mining New Jersey for sites to investigate since the beginning, but it really seems to have escalated this season. That's both good and bad for local investigators. It's good, because the perception of the show is still largely positive outside of the internet and the online investigative community, so the stigma of having a home or other location investigated is less than it was.
On the other hand, it does present certain challenges. Producers for the show conduct regular searches on regional investigators' websites to scout out potential locations, and they try very hard to convince groups to "hand over" locations to the show. We've all seen how evidence from local groups can be ignored or "debunked" to position TAPS as superior; it's a common criticism within the field, and one big reason why "Ghost Hunters Academy" is fundamentally insulting.
Also, there is a trend for locations that have been on the show to begin charging money for regional groups to investigate. I can't really blame them; it's an obvious move, and one that works very well for "famous" sites like Eastern State and Waverly Hills. But it can get ridiculous when you want to return to a site you've already investigated an entire night for free, only to discover that you now have to pay a steep fee for a few hours. And it's even more galling when locations that once adamantly refused to allow investigations suddenly open their doors, at a ridiculous price, after being featured on "Ghost Hunters".
It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens with this particular site. Most people in New Jersey are familiar with the location and the story, even if they would struggle to find it on a map, just because of the infamous archival footage. Investigators in the state, however, have already noted that this site has never been mentioned as a paranormal hot spot. I don't recall any local urban legends about hauntings there, and I've never come across a group that has investigated there. That doesn't mean very much, since there were obviously witness interviews in the show with first-hand reports, but this isn't a site with a long history of ghost lore.
(Which, as an aside, is an interesting side effect of the recent explosion in interest in paranormal investigation. While every state has always had its storied locations, the ones on every group's radar, there has been an exponential rise in the number of "top destinations" for investigators around the globe. When you have examples like Waverly Hills, where much of the tragedy and activity was exaggerated to capitalize on the potential for tours and expensive ghost hunts, it begs the question: how many of these sites really had a documented history of reports before it became profitable to have such a thing? It's not hard to do the research to find out, but a lot of investigators take the claims on faith.)
The site was simply huge, and like many of the other massive sites they've featured, I can't imagine that the monitoring equipment was even close to adequate. After all, the monitoring cameras are not just to catch activity on a typical investigation; in a practical sense, they also help to identify potential contamination of the site. It looked like it would have been very hard to keep intruders out, and with TAPS' every move telegraphed on Twitter these days, a lot of fans (and critics) knew exactly when they were filming.
Those thoughts came to mind when Jason, Grant, Britt, and Dustin all saw shadows and heard movements on the various catwalks. At least, until they started seeing the shadows jump around in ways that wouldn't lend to such an explanation. They didn't catch anything definitive, so it's all down what they say they experienced, but it matches the claims. Also, as I've said before, if investigators other than Jason and Grant report the same thing, in my opinion, it lends credibility.
Speaking of Dustin, I believe that his reaction to the "cobwebs" was sincere. That's not to say I believe it was paranormal in origin. I believe in his experience because that's my own physiological reaction to being in a high-EMF environment. It's not constant, it doesn't correlate to feelings of "creepiness" or anticipation, and it's not linear. But when it happens, I can usually find a nearby source of high EMF. I have no idea if that might explain Dustin's reaction, but I would note that they were close to the electrical boxes that were registering off the scale.
The most intriguing experiences seemed to happen to Kris and Amy, which was a nice change of pace. I thought the breath they caught by the door was interesting, as well as the EVP. I have to wonder if they were letting the hysteria get the better of them in the office area; that alarm in the darkness would put anyone on edge!
As far as the lights are concerned, I was reminded of the kind of streetlight that gets progressively brighter, then shuts off, repeating the cycle over time. That was fairly standard in many communities (and still might be), and I remember it had something to do with the nature of the bulb used. It may be possible, given the age of the facility, that the same kind of light fixtures are still in use there.
Overall, I thought it was a good investigation. I had my doubts, given the location, but I thought it was an interesting site to investigate, and there was none of the truly questionable "evidence" that used to be seen in the first and last episode of every "leg" of a season. I still feel that Dustin and Britt make a better team than Steve and Tango, in terms of ability and focus, and I suspect that some of the shenanigans are less likely to happen when the more serious investigators are around.