Paranormal reality shows make me talk to the TV screen.
(Okay, I rant at the TV screen… like anyone on the show can hear me, y’know?)
It’s like the first time I saw The Blair Witch Project.
When the person rushed out of the tent, alone, I was like everyone else who’d spent many years in Scouting: I muttered, “Idiot! Never leave the tent by yourself. Take a buddy.”
So, when I watch paranormal TV shows, I also talk to the screen.
As much as I like the Haunted Collector TV show, there are times when I talk to my TV as I watch it.
I talked less to the TV during last night’s episode (the firehouse episode, also featuring the Stratford, CT home), but I still talked to it.
The fact is: Investigations take days or weeks. Usually, multiple weeks are involved when it’s a serious and frightening case, especially if children may be affected by it.
What John Zaffis says
In The World Within (linked at the foot of this article), a 2010 documentary about John Zaffis’ work, John very clearly addressed this issue.
Here’s what he said:
“Always remember it’s not like what you see on the TV in a half an hour or an hour.
“It can’t be done that quick.
“You have to remember, a lot of times these guys are on the scene one week, two weeks, evaluating what they’re involved with and how they’re doing it.
“So, the actual investigation can go anywhere — from the beginning to the end — it can be several weeks in determining what needs to be done… What procedures I’m going to implement to help a person out.”
— John Zaffis in the “Shadows in the Dark” segment of The World Within
The acting issue
What you see on the TV, in the half-hour segments of each show, represent a far greater length of time.
In some cases, the camera crew was right there and caught the phenomenon or encounter, on video.
In many cases, a couple of team members were in separate part of the building when something odd, interesting, or chilling happened. No one was there to film it, so they re-enact what happened after the producer says, “Yeah, let’s include that.”
That’s not faking anything. It may (or may not) seem convincing when it’s re-enacted. That’s a reflection of how well the person can remember what he or she did, and how well the person can repeat what was said, so it sounds normal.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Cameras can’t be everywhere at once.
- Sometimes (perhaps often) events happen off-camera.
- When the evidence (filmed or not) is evaluated, some off-camera incidents will be re-enacted to more clearly share that moment with the audience.
- Re-enacted incidents may be badly acted (these guys aren’t actors), but they’re not faked.
The ghost box issue
After the fire station episode, someone commented that nobody turns off a ghost box while it’s still communicating.
Since I’ve been with John on several investigations, I can say with confidence that John never turns off a ghost box that’s still saying important things. Likewise, his crew never would, either.
Really, when any direct communication is taking place, I’m not sure that everyone remembers to blink or even breathe. It’s that exciting.
But John takes it to an extreme. He’s a talker… and a listener.
Whether it’s someone living or on the other side, John wants to hear everything they have to say. He never turns off the ghost box or walks away, mid-conversation, unless (a) the person is being a jerk or extremely repetitious, 0r (b) John needs to deal with something in another area, urgently.
In fact, I’ve walked away from John (and others) who wanted to hear every last word from a ghost box, though I felt the box was repeating things I’d already heard three or more times. (I wanted to explore other areas of the house, but… No, John had to stay to hear everything.)
About 30 minutes later, I returned to that room. John was still there, listening, even though other people were leaving because the box hadn’t said anything new in nearly half an hour.
So, the ghost box scene in the firehouse episode did not accurately represent what John and his team do. If anything, it was the exact opposite of what they do. If there’s a whisper or even a single syllable yet to emerge from the ghost box, they’ll wait for it.
In other words:
- No responsible ghost hunter turns off a communication device while it’s still communicating useful information. That goes double for John and his team.
- John Zaffis is more patient than most, and listens to people — living and on the other side — far after the average researcher would walk away.
- Many moments in the show represent hours of research, but — due to time constraints — can only provide a glimpse of what happened.
Brian Cano and the poison bottle
I’m probably not the only one to notice that, every time there’s a dusty, icky, small space to explore — like a crawl space — Brian Cano is elected to explore it.
He has more courage than I do.
In the Louisiana episode, I’m glad he found that handgun, but there’s no way you’d catch me climbing under a house where there can be poisonous snakes, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, and the occasional rabid rodent.
But, one reader questioned whether Brian Cano “just happened” to notice the crawl space, as it appeared on the Stratford, CT segment of the Haunted Collector firehouse episode.
Well, Brian might have, but — working with a 30-minute segment — I think it’s more likely that he (or someone else) noticed the crawl space and then re-enacted that discovery when the cameras were there. After that, they were able to film him climbing into the crawl space. (Really, that’s not something anyone’s likely to do, twice.)
I’d be amazed if Brian simply found the bottle cap and the broken bottle as shown on the TV. (Maybe he did. Some psychics are drawn to objects, even hidden ones, it’s like they have an internal compass.)
It’s hard to tell. Brian has a lot of experience behind the camera and in front of it, so he’s better at re-enactments than many others are.
Also, in a 30-minute segment, they’re not likely to show us the whole 10 or 20 or 30 minutes Brian climbed around amid dust, dirt, and aging fiberglass insulation.
So, I can’t address the issue of how quickly he found the pieces of the bottle.
The World Within
I recently (finally) saw the documentary, The World Within. It provides fascinating insights to what John Zaffis does. It includes his work with haunted objects as well as his demonology research.
I’ll review the video in a later article, but for now, I recommend it if you’re a fan of John Zaffis. What he says in this video — like what I quoted above — will answer a lot of questions raised by John’s TV series, the Haunted Collector.