Sunday, May 22, 2011

DESTINATION TRUTH: Ghosts of Antarctica

SyFy - Original Air Date: 4/19/2011

On the "season finale" (whatever that means), Josh & crew head for Antarctica to look for ghosts.  They stop in the tip of South America (Tierra del Fuego) and pick up a 50-foot sailing boat to make the trip across some of the world's most dangerous waters, including Drake Passage.  The trip takes most of a week and doesn't look like much fun, with choppy seas and cramped quarters.  Naturally, there are icebergs, too, but eventually they reach the remote, inhospitable, and beautiful continent.  They party with some Russian scientists and hear the local legends of Deception Island, first stop in the DT ghost hunting tour.  Though the sun never quite sets (being Antarctic summer), they set up camp and haul out the IR gear to investigate.  Soon, people begin seeing and hearing things: Josh thinks he sees a shape inside a building (but I"m not convinced, and the FLIR evidence seems like video artifacting); Gabe sees a light in a hut, but it looks like an IR reflection to me; Josh and Ryder hear strange bumps in a warehouse-like building -- they don't see big pieces of fallen debris, but there's of junk plenty around to fall, and in a place like that.... Ryder sees a dark shadow by a door.  "This whole place is freaking me out." And therein lies a common ghost-hunting problem.  They never discover the source of the noises or shadow, naturally.  So it's on to their next stop.

Wordie House is an old British base supposedly haunted by its former occupants, after being abandoned in 1962.  The team picks up the house key from some Ukranians, who collect bras to decorate the only bar in Antarctica.  Wordie remains pretty much as it was when abandoned, and while Josh pokes around inside, Ryder discovers a noisy leopard seal outside -- perhaps explaining some of the local weird sounds.  Naturally, the team starts hearing strange sounds within Wordie House.  They set up watches, and hear even more strange sounds.  (Sitting alone in the dark will do this to you.)  Things also seem to mysteriously fall off shelves or tables.  (Vibrations of humans moving about and entropy, anyone?)  In his isolation session, Josh thinks he sees someone outside a door, but finds no one.  They keep recording and having weird feelings, and eventually it's time to head for home and analyze.

They think the FLIR hit at Desolation is something moving; I think it's a video problem.  (Really, these people should become more expert with their cameras, especially, and other equipment.)  Enhanced audio when someone hears something "reveals" a set of "pulses" in series that the team notes could be SOS in old Morse code.  But to me, that's a stretch, and as they note, there's only one series and it could be coincidence.  Really, it seems pretty much within the range of background noise to me.  The "light switch" sound from Wordie isn't much more convincing to me.

One of the troubles with these type of ghost hunter shows is I always have the feeling that the investigators have never lived in an old house, or in the woods, or in any place with an odd variety of natural sounds.  Houses creak and groan (woods do, too, as does ice) and most natural places are filled with sounds (animal or otherwise) if humans will just shut up long enough to hear them.  And wear and tear and vibrations and entropy... boy, that can make strange things clang and clack -- just ask my dish rack.  Also, if Wipeout can put cameras on people that show their POV, I think it's high time that DT did the same, rather than merely having cameras that focus on the team members.  I'm really tired of people exclaiming about something cool they saw just in time for the cameraman to miss it.  POV cams might help capture evidence that's now being missed -- or help show just how prone people are to optical illusions and jumping at their own shadows.

In the end, though this remains my favorite of the supernatural shows, and I like the cast -- in my humble opinion -- this is just another hunt for ghosts that aren't there.  I wish DT would do less of these and stick to searching for monsters -- maybe doubling their time on each case by skipping the ghosts.  We already have Ghost Hunters and GHI, if ghosts are what we want.  More hard science would be welcome, too.

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