Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ghosts: a bigger threat than terrorism?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Doctor Watson: Holmes, could ghosts actually kill someone?

Sherlock Holmes: Not well-bred ghosts, Watson.  - Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)

Conservative news analysts, unable to understand the English language language when it is aimed in their direction, are constantly clamoring that President Barack Obama never talks about the “War on Terror,” despite repeated  references to it throughout the first year of his presidency.

And there are other places in the world, the wide-eyed critics insist, that the current administration is ignoring. Oh, if only the American people had been wise enough in  November, 2008  to . . .

But there is another, perhaps even greater threat that the current administration is ignoring completely, yet the signs of danger are all around us.  Across the planet, tint handfuls of private citizens band together - some sane, some only marginally so - to battle this ever-looming threat to all of us and our way of life.

The signs - if we are to believe cable television - are upon us. We are under assault from the spirit realm, and it shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

Looking over various cable offerings, one can not help but be struck but by how how aggressive those in the spiritual world seem to be of late.

Hauntings.

Demonic possessions.

poltergeist activity,

It’s all there, if one only takes the time to watch and learn.

Okay, so you have to watch people waving around their Radio Shack equipment, running up and down hallways. And countless Blair Witch moments of people sticking the lens of a camera up their nostrils, and “psychics” who are a few sheets short of a full roll of aluminum foil, but the danger is real, I tell you!

Hardly a week seems to go by without a new ghost-hunting show being added to the offerings of cable TV. Even cable channels devoted to crime have added psychics to their roster of offerings.

I have noticed that an alarming number of these citizen ghost hunters programs seem to have added exorcists to their ranks. Said exorcists range from Bill O’Reilly Bully in the Bar techniques (“Get out! Get out now, or I’ll kick your ass!”) to wimpy (“I’d like to ask to to leave now”) but they are all doing the job our government hasn’t got the guts for.

Tackling the Supernatural on its own terms - kicking ass and taking names, even when those names are hard to pronounce.

Lately there seems to be a lit more aggression on the part of TV’s ghost hunters/busters, as if they realize that the stakes have gotten much higher.

It is not uncommon for someone (somebody you might ordinarily dismiss as a blowhard) to stand in the middle of an empty room and scream abuse and insults at the ghosts, trying to draw them out.

“You’re not the boss here anymore,” is a familiar taunt.

Of course, not trying to be rude, but the ghost is probably going to be there long after you’ve gone, hoss.  It would rude to mention this, though - certainly no one on the shows ever brings it up.

The mere fact that these shows are cropping up all the time, and occupying such prominent places on the schedule should be proof to anyone with that not only is the problem increasing, but that the rag-tag bands of freedom fighters who are fighting for our freedom across the globe may actually be losing the battle.

Starting now, we need an army of home-grown parapsychologists (certainly TV teaches us that formal education may actually get in the way sometimes), exorcists and others who are willing to battle in the night, grappling with forces too frightening and awesome for words.

President Obama, when are you going to devote American resources to combating this scourge? Will you have to be shamed into it by the stalwarts at FOX News?

As for me, I’m getting out my old copies of Phantom Stranger, and doing some serious research . . .

******

Quote of the Day

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.

A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.  (Hollywood Squares)

*****

Once again, TV execs let magic slip between their inept fingers . . .

Making its debut on Fox in 2004, Wonderfalls was unceremoniously yanked off the air after only four episodes. Which is pretty good, I suppose, compared to what we might see in the future. Many of us can foresee a time when incompetent TV executives might yank a show off the air after the first commercial break.

Part of the problem was that the network simply didn’t know how to promote this quirky little series, in which various stuffed, plastic and brass animals give advice to young slacker  Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), a recent college graduate (degree in philosophy)  who seems unable to find a direction for her life, and finds herself working in a tacky gift store in a Niagra Falls tourist trap located in Wonderfalls, New York.

Her immediate supervisor is  the sort of suck-up that we have all learned to recognize and despise over the years, and it doesn’t help matters when, out-of-the-blue, strange creatures begin to give her advice.

It really doesn’t help that the advice they give is so seldom straight-forward, which often results in the comic plot twists that each episode delivers. The advice is usually meant to guide her to helping a perfect stranger, who may or may not appreciate the help they are suddenly receiving.

But Jaye isn’t alone in her adventure, which is also a sort of spiritual quest for self-knowledge.  Along the way is her best friend (Tracie Thoms - Cold Case), who helps her, even though she may not always believe the source of her inspiration, and her family - who try to be supportive, in a sort of non-understanding way.

Her family include Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) as her brother who is studying religion, and her sister, played by the brilliant Katie Finneran, an attorney who is struggling with being a lesbian.

When asked if she was uncomfortable playing a lesbian, Finneran told an interviewer that she’d rather be thought of as a lesbian than an attorney. 

Jaye is also provided with a love interest (Tyron Leitso), who is constantly frustrated because of her failure to realize that she is able to commit to a relationship. Of course, the fact that he is still technically married to a bride he left on their wedding night doesn’t help matters.

The writing is sharp and funny, and while the series was pulled off the air after four episodes, the entire run of thirteen episodes is offered here. And not only that, but a sense of closure is provided, in that at least the relationship issue between Jaye and her erstwhile boyfriend is settled.

Extras on the DVD set include a behind-the-scenes documentary and a video of the show’s theme song, by Andy Partridge.

Forget about buying Wonderfalls for anyone else; this is one you need to buy for yourself.

rsdrake@cox.net

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