Wednesday, April 2, 2008

MYSTERY HUNTERS - Voodoo & Gettysburg

Discovery Kids - Original Air Date: 2002-Present

It's been a while since I blogged about Mystery Hunters, though the show continues to be one of my favorite bits of uncanny TV.  The show is hosted by three people, two teenagers -- Araya & Christina -- and scientist/skeptic/magician "Doubting Dave."  Every week, the two kids travel to some new, and often exotic, locale and look into whatever strange things are going on there.  Usually, the kids are going different places, though they sometimes help each other on cases.  In this show, Christina goes to New Orleans to look into voodoo, while Araya hunts for ghosts in Gettysburg.  Christina sees Marie Laveau's tomb and makes a wish (that Doubting Dave will find love).  Then she visits with a current-day voodoo priestess, and talks to a girl (younger than she is) who believes that voodoo works.  Meanwhile, Doubting Dave (answering viewer mail), says that phone astrologers can't really tell you your future.  He notes that when astrology was invented, there were a lot less planets than we know about now (for one thing), and most horoscopes in the paper are so vague they could apply to anyone.  Araya then goes to Gettysburg and talks to locals about ghosts.  He even goes on a ghost hunt in a former orphanage (run by a wicked head mistress) and, before all the equipment is set up, hears footsteps from the empty building above where they're recording.  That's pretty odd, and the investigators' mico recorder seems to pick up several EVPs (electronic voice phenomena).  Christina meets with an investigator who posits that most EVPs are either sounds from the recorder itself or, in many cases, "pattern stamping."  That's where people impose order (and voices) on otherwise random sounds.  If you've seen Ghost Hunters, you've heard Jason & Grant talk about a similar visual phenomena, which they call "matrixing."  Back at the ranch, Doubting Dave teaches viewers how they can use low-tech means to hunt ghosts like the pros: a compass stands in for an EMF detector, a digital thermometer for a temperature gauge, and simple chalk to outline objects that may (or may not) move on their own.  As usual, the show tends toward skepticism, though they leave other possibilities open.  The only real drawback to this well-produced Canadian show is that it's so short -- just a half hour per episode.  However, the young hosts & Dave manage to cram a lot into that time, and often do as good a job as much longer shows.  In the end, they leave you with their tag-line parting thought, "Remember, things aren't always what they seem."  That may be true, but Mystery Hunters seems darn good to me.

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