Would it be possible – just once will be fine! – to see a supernatural, paranormal or Fortean-themed “Reality TV” show that offers the viewer at least a bit of originality?
It’s almost like there’s a book that all the writers, directors and producers consult before they lazily crank out the latest piece of tat. Perhaps there is…
Here are, as I see them anyway, the Ten Commandments of supernatural on-screen “entertainment” (in no particular order). There’s nothing positive about these commandments, however. Unless you view “predictable” and “tedious” as having merit – which I don’t.
1. Thou shalt always have thy team comprised of more men than women. The former should generally sport some form of headwear (either a baseball cap or something befitting Indiana Jones). The latter should always be kept away from Manna from Heaven and the food of the gods. Anorexic-looking, in other words.
2. Ensure that thy cast doth drive a flashy all-terrain vehicle rather than a car. If that same vehicle can be filled with lots of cameras, weird-looking devices and advanced technologies – and bountiful shots of such items can be captured for the viewer – ye will reap rewards beyond thy imagination (that’s to say you will get your expenses paid a week early).
3. Lest ye risk facing the wrath of the Almighty (in this case the TV channel that is funding the show), thou shalt secure a great deal of night-vision footage. And not for any particular reason, aside from, well, it’s night-vision footage and everyone else’s show has it, so why not thy heroes, too?
4. To avoid forever being plunged into the heart of some hellish realm, ensure that at least every 5 minutes one of thy cast members utters a variation of the following words (which must always be whispered, rather than spoken or shouted): “What the hell was that?!” “Did you hear that?!” “What the f**k is that?!” “Can you see that?!”
5. Take careful steps never to forget that, when a commercial break doth loom large on the horizon, thou shalt build up the atmosphere with something that appears mysterious, but – Lo and Behold! – after the break, thy team will resolve the matter in down to earth, jokey, semi-relieved style.
6. Verily, in the commercials that promote the show in the hours before it is broadcast, always be careful to ensure that at least one person’s words are edited in a fashion that takes them totally out of their original context.
7. Stress to thy heroes of the hour (or half an hour, depending on budget) that at some point they must speak in an out of breath fashion, and if this can be done while running from something terrible (but actually non-existent), ye will all be granted entrance into the next joyous realm of existence (or, as it’s also known: Season Two).
8. Never forget that haunted houses and creature-infested woods should not be entered into until the sun has set and darkness is upon both ye and the land. Daylight shootings will provoke a wrath of unimaginable horror. Its almost unspeakable name is: Falling Ratings.
9. Do thy utmost to make sure the team comes across as more learned and intelligent than the witnesses they encounter on their journey towards enlightenment.
10. And, finally, the most important commandment of all, and one of definitive behind-the-scenes proportions: when trying to secure the services of people to appear on thy show, always ensure that the researcher whose job it is to phone the witnesses, authors and investigators reads the following sacred verse: “Hi, I’m [Insert Name] from the [Insert Name] Channel. We would like to interview your for our show [Yep, again: Insert Name]. But, unfortunately, we can’t pay you as we don’t have much of a budget [Yes, you do, you lying prick]. But it will be good publicity for you, we’ll try and pay all your airfare, and we’ll even buy you a coke. How’s that sound?”
Production companies: unless ye wish to forever burn in the fiery pit (the definition of which is: failure to secure a second season), pay careful heed to the above and never stray from the pathway to glory on high. Nah, screw it: just go and forever burn in the fiery pit.