Syfy's new original series “Paranormal Witness” will premiere Wednesday at 8 p.m. following “Ghost Hunters” at 7 p.m.
Now in its seventh season, “Ghost Hunters” has achieved continuing success by taking the claims of paranormal activity from everyday people and putting them to the test by performing investigations to determine their validity. “Paranormal Witness” also takes a stab into the realm of real-life ghost stories, but drops the investigation and instead gives a dramatic re-enactment of the reported events, along with firsthand testimony.
While “Ghost Hunters” leaves room for viewers to interpret what occurs during the show’s investigation as well as what witnesses say they have experienced, “Paranormal Witness” simply tells the story, insinuating that everyone should simply believe it as having actually occurred the way it is presented. This leaves little, if any, room for intellectual challenge or edification (not that any paranormal-based reality shows have been especially edifying, or any reality shows in general for that matter).
Wednesday’s episode tells two stories: first, a young family is haunted by their 5-year-old daughter’s invisible friend whose initially harmless mischief turns ever more sinister and threatening, and second, a mother and daughter have an encounter along a rural dirt road with a mysterious girl and her unsettling secret.
Similar to “Ghost Hunters,” believers will say the tales of “Paranormal Witness” are indisputable evidence of the supernatural, while skeptics will work out rational explanations. Unlike “Ghost Hunters,” however, this show will likely appeal more to believers and less to the even mildly skeptical.
“Paranormal Witness” is not a show for families. It is based on disturbing events and contains even more disturbing images and imagery. It has very little intrinsic value and viewers will only come away with what they would get from most contemporary horror films: mind-numbing creepiness.
The show attempts to appeal to fans of its lead-in, and those who enjoy hearing ghost stories and other paranormal tales might somewhat enjoy it, but on the whole it has likely missed the mark.