Things that go bump - well, kinda bump - in the night | Street Jazz

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Things that go bump - well, kinda bump - in the night

Posted By on Sat, Dec 27, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Sometimes late at night we’ll watch this dreadful British show, Most Haunted. featuring the real-life adventures of a gang of ghost hunters.  It’s an absolutely hideous show, yet once you start watching, you almost can’t pull yourself away from this group of professional cowards as they stumble through the dark, cowering and screaming at the slightest creak in the floorboards.

At some point you have to wonder:

How many ghosts have actually killed anyone? How many ghosts have actually dismembered anyone? How many ghosts have actually stolen anyone’s credit card, and gone on a shopping spree?

Yet these buffoons cower and moan like there’s a gang of spectral bikers about to descend upon them at any moment.

My favorite parts are when they ask the ghosts to give them a sign that they are there. I’d turn their cars over; there’s a sign they wouldn’t soon forget.

I actually heard someone ask once, “If you don’t want to talk to us, please give us a sign.”

Or, the ghost could simply ignore them, if they don’t want to talk to them.

It turns out, however, that our stalwarts may be faking some of their adventures.  Several years ago there was  an expose on them, and the story wasn’t very flattering, but reading it confirmed my deepest suspicions about them. 

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/viewnews.php?id=54055

Yet the show still has high ratings. I guess P.T. Barnum was right, after all.

******

Quote of the Day

There's nothing people like better than being asked an easy question. For some reason, we're flattered when a stranger asks us where Maple Street is in our hometown and we can tell him. - Andrew A. Rooney

*****

I’ve already told Tracy how I’ll contact her from the next life

This is how I’ll contact Tracy - she’ll see a Twinkie hanging off the end of a balloon. Not only will it bypass the usual cliches that most mediums will throw at you, but she can have a snack, too.

****

The most offensive psychics I have seen on TV yet - I really am drawn to cheesy “reality” TV, aren’t I?

A few months ago I saw a show where three “forensic psychics” were set loose in the house where JonBenet Ramsey was murdered. The three stooges wandered around the house, picking up impressions of the killer, telling the viewer what was going through his mind as he was laying in wait, and where he was waiting. It was all very intense - and highly offensive, too.

They seemed to to know so much about the killer - except what direction he turned in once he left the house. 

I guess their psychic batteries were running out of juice . . .

***

If I were a rich man . . .

I really could see myself shooting out my TV about three or four times a week, between jokers like this, and the increasing Ted Baxterization of the news.

**

Conspiracies most foul

If there is one thing that British television has always excelled at, it is the creepy, the bump in the night, the feeling that something just out of sight is watching and waiting. And unlike American television, with its obsession for happy endings, British programmers don't particularly feel honor-bound to let us down off that meat hook at the end of the show.

Long before "X Files" there was "The Omega Factor," a show which enjoys cult-like status - mainly because so few people have actually seen it. After the original ten episodes were shown on BBC in 1979, it was never shown again. But people remembered it, and the legend grew, as people gathered around their video campfires and told the tale of this neat little exercise into paranoia and the paranormal.

Now, thanks to the BBC, the episodes have been collected on DVD.

The premise of the program was simple. Journalist Tom Crane, following the death of his wife, goes to work for one of those mysterious British intelligence organizations, Department 7. Along the way Crane and Department 7 investigate cases of astral projection, poltergeist activity, and demonic possession.

But Crane soon begins to suspect that there is something else - another, more sinister, organization - pulling the strings behind Department 7. Of course, he is right, and that's where a lot of the fun lies.

It's all pretty grim stuff; there is very little that can be considered "light-hearted" about the series. Viewers spoiled by modern-day television shows may sneer at the special effects, which may remind them of "Doctor Who." But despite the lack of glossy special effects, the direction is pretty good, and there are some genuinely scary moments to be found.

Those who stick with the series will be rewarded by a program that doesn't insult the viewer, and makes the assumption that the person watching is pretty smart to begin with.

Of course, that can't be said for all of the original viewers. Many were repulsed by the occult themes of the program, including the infamous Mary Whitehouse.

For a long time, Whitehouse, of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (a British version of the Parents Television Council ) had had her steely eye on British entertainment. This was the woman, after all, who had once dismissed "Doctor Who" as "tea-time brutality for tots."

Naturally, there was much that Whitehouse found to criticize in "The Omega Factor." And while many regarded her as part of the lunatic fringe, some saw that her organization had a lot of influence.

It wasn't just Mary Whitehouse; other viewers seemed to dislike the show. One passionate person told the BBC, "I hate this damned program." One must pity the poor soul who has lost the ability to change channels, or - horrors! - actually might pick up a book to read if they don't like what is on television.

When the initial order of ten episodes ran its course, the BBC declined to renew the series. Still, the series made enough of an impact to keep viewers talking about it for decades, until it was finally released on DVD.

It can only make one wonder - as long as other series are being remade, and "re-imagined," can "The Omega Factor" be far behind?

rsdrake@nwark.com


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