As you may have deduced from the amount of TV-related content that crawls down this page each day, we at O2 spend a lot of time in front of our respective tubes. This time of year, we especially love watching those hokey paranormal reality shows about topics like haunted castles, wacky ghost hunters, weird bird-beasts that lurk deep in the brush of some dark jungle, or similar such phantasmal fare. We’ll be the first to say a lot of this stuff has the words “bull” and “shit” written all over it, but we’re total dorks for Halloween. Which is only days away! Which is why we’ve put together this little list of spooky programming to guide you through the next week of nighttime television…
New episodes of the History Channel’s Monsterquest, a show about “legendary monster sightings around the world,” air Wednesdays at 9 p.m., but there are repeats on pretty much every night. Topics might include super rats, monster spiders, mega hogs, real dragons, ghosts, enormous killer snakes or, in the case of the clip above, freakishly gigantic eels that purportedly terrorize the waters of a lake in northeastern Canada. Yeah, we’re skeptical, too, but anything on the History Channel is pretty much guaranteed to suck you in.
It seems like anyone can get a reality show these days, including, say, a random group of college students who form a paranormal research club on their university’s campus. Hence, A&E’s Paranormal State. (Not to be confused with Penn State, where the show’s stars do in fact go to school.) We admit, we only heard about this one because we watch Intervention (which is pretty terrifying in its own right!) on Monday nights, and this comes on right after. Also, these kids are sort of a bit, how should we say, intense. But as corny, embellished and far-fetched as Paranormal State is, we still kind of love it. Plus they did an episode about the Mothman! (Watch it above.)
A lot of America’s haunted places don’t seem all that scary anymore, what with Sarah Palin running around. But over in the U.K., where castles and ruins abound, everything is spooky, and this is why the Travel Channel’s Most Haunted exists. The footage is shot in night vision, Blair Witch-style, as host Yvette Fielding and a team of amateur ghost-hunters investigate a different haunted European sight every Friday at 10 p.m. Seances and parapsychology are par for the course here, as is the type of sensational melodrama that makes a good British accent like Ms. Fielding’s wildly irresistible.
If you like dramatic re-enactments that conjure images of Linda Blair speaking in tongues, Discovery’s A Haunting might be more your speed: “Each one-hour episode dramatizes some of the scariest stories in America, revealing a world in which tragedy, suicide and murder have left psychic impressions so potent that innocent people become forced to deal with them decades later. Through mesmerizing first-person accounts, the mystery and origin of each haunting is powerfully unraveled. By the end of each ghost story, audiences experience a lingering sense that life—and death—are much stranger than anyone could have possibly imagined.” Yikes! Somebody pass the rosary beads!
Lastly, Sci-Fi’s Ghost Hunters is perhaps the most no-nonsense paranormal show out there, mostly because it relies on hi-tech scientific gadgets to prove or debunk the existence of other worldly beings in the buildings and homes it investigates. And the show’s paranormal research team, called The Atlantic Paranormal Society (as in TAPS, like the haunting military bugle call played over soldier’s graves), is just a bunch of relatable, hard-working, everyday Joe Plumbers (they really are plumbers!) with whom you might want to throw back a few cold ones were they not too busy trying to get some Electronic Voice Phenomena down on tape. (There are usually a few ladies in the mix, too.) We like this show not only for its down-home vibe, but because the TAPS team doesn’t freak out and act as if Lucifer is hiding in a closet every time it hears a creek or a bump in the floor. And they often actually produce some pretty creepy—albeit fuzzy—evidence, like the clips featured in the montage above. New episodes air Wednesdays at 9 p.m., but tune in at 7 p.m. on Halloween night for a special live show in which TAPS returns to a the site of a Civil War-era P.O.W. camp that’s said to be crawling with restless spirits.