Ghost Hunters

Season 3 Episode 20

Sanatorium Live Results

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Nov 07, 2007 on Syfy

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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out of 10
28 votes
  • Half good, half bad

    (Note: This review covers general commentary on the live Halloween special as well as the subsequent "reveal" episode and the accompanying investigation.)

    Live investigations are hit and miss, especially when they are poorly produced. I can't blame Jason or Grant for the most annoying aspects of this latest Halloween event, because they were clearly matters settled between Pilgrim Films and SFC. I very much doubt that TAPS would have wanted horrible "spooky" music to overwhelm the live footage (and every conversation) or countless commercial breaks.

    The special was also marred by the inclusion of the questionable "Hunt for the Hunter" contest resolution. The original concept introduced in the third season was more aligned with TAPS' intentions (as mentioned in several interviews): the chance for a fan to join them for an investigation, period. After the first batch of third season episodes, this contest disappeared, replaced with something that was more deceptive and commercial.

    Frankly, based on this event, I suspect that Jason and Grant felt pressured into accepting this contest, and that intrusive quality colored the response by most of the other TAPS members. After all, past membership in TAPS was based on personal relationships; casting for "Ghost Hunters" was a contentious behind-the-scenes production issue. The contest winner is being shoe-horned into the mix, and that had to make any personality clashes more apparent.

    Whatever the case, this special once again demonstrates the difference between the normal edited episodes and the real thing (keeping in mind that the presence of celebrities, contestants, and production staff pushed this rather far from the true investigative atmosphere). Most of the special was tedious at best and irritating at worst. I can't blame Elijah Burke, who was generally quite harmless; it was the production of the special itself that made it hard to watch.

    Case #1: Waverly Hill Sanatorium

    One thing that should be mentioned is the constant reinforcement of false information. Jason repeatedly cited the idea that 63,000 people died at Waverly Hills, and others mentioned that the supply tunnel was used as a "body chute". Nearly all of this information was manufactured by Keith Age and the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society, the group that had been running tours at the site for years and the group behind "Spooked", a pseudo-documentary that falsified information to back up the bogus history. I was disappointed to hear TAPS giving credence to information that has been proven inaccurate and misleading.

    As one would expect, very little happened. A ball seemed to move on its own, but as Grant pointed out during the live event, the nature of the ball and the age of the building could have contributed to that impression. There were some minor personal experiences, but it was mostly chasing shadows. Given the number of production people sitting around on each floor, the evidence was always going to be questionable anyway.

    In fact, the lack of evidence leaves me wondering how Jason came to the conclusion that the site was haunted. Unfortunately, that opinion seemed to be based more on the manufactured history of the site and its implications and less on actual documented evidence. Granted, for all intent purposes, this is more personal experience on top of what they experienced and documented during the first visit, but this particular investigation produced nothing new in and of itself.

    Though, to be honest, that Elijah Burke footage was pretty damn funny.

    Case #2: Harrington House

    Perhaps in response to the lack of evidence in the Waverly Hills reveal and the anemic nature of the post-Stanley Hotel event episode, this installment included a second investigation. This one was far more interesting, and produced some evidence that should have fans and critics debating for months.

    It should be noted that this investigation seems to involve complete strangers. In fact, this is not the case. Harrington is a friend of a highly regarded member of New England Paranormal, Steve's organization, and Harrington has since joined NEP as well. So this is essentially a case involving members of the extended TAPS Family, even though it is not mentioned on-screen.

    The highlight of this investigation is the thermal footage, which appears to capture the head and upper torso of a person sitting in a rocking chair. The editors show a good amount of footage to give the audience context, which is a nice touch. Too often, that has been missing in the past. What I find interesting is the similarity between the thermal images of Jason and Grant, shown in reflection, and the image that was captured. It's too bad that there wasn't IR camera footage of the room during that time to demonstrate that the chair was definitely empty (or, alternatively, that the editors chose to leave that out).

    I was, however, a bit disappointed in Heather's contribution to the investigation. Specifically, in both investigations, she mentioned that her dowsing rods were designed for sensitivity to paranormal phenomena and spirit activity. How exactly is that supposed to work? This implies calibration, which as with the infamous K-II meter, makes no sense. How do you calibrate or "sensitize" equipment to measure something that is, by definition, outside of applicable standards and norms?

    This is not specifically a rant about dowsing rods, because I think it could be an autonomic response to subconscious stimuli, similar to the subconscious manipulation thought to be at play during ouija board use. Thus a person using the dowsing rods could react to what they believe is a paranormal event, see a response in the rods, and assume that the rods are moving because of the event itself. In reality, by this theory, the dowsing rod would be an indicator of the user's psychological state, not actual activity at a site, and the vaunted sensitivity is nothing more than assumption and subjective belief.