Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ghost Mine

We all know ghosts don't really exist. Okay, maybe you are one of the people who do honestly and truly think they do, but at the very least we can agree that if ghosts do exist, it probably won't be proven on a cable reality show. The same goes for bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and any other paranormal phenomena. These are discoveries that, if found, would cause quite the ruckus. If the existence of ghosts, and therefore an afterlife, was ever shown without a shadow of a doubt it would basically mean so much that we assume in science is probably wrong. It would literally change the world.

Ghost Mine on SyFy isn't going to do that, but it might change some half-drunken late nights while channel surfing. To start off with, it's a show called Ghost Mine, and it's about a haunted mine. Even though we live in a golden age for TV, we also live in an age where reality programming is a thing. Ghost Mine is a mashup between two distinct reality subgenres; shows following hard working blue collar workers doing their thing (Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers) and shows about ghost hunting (Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted). It doesn't do a great job meshing these two halves together either, making it feel like you're occasionally watching two different shows with two far different thesis, which is assuming Ghost Mine has a thesis to begin with, which is probably giving it far too much credit.
Everything you need to know about the show is right there in the title. This guy has a mine which is so haunted that all the mining crews he's tried to get to work there have all left scared. For some reason I think that most people wouldn't leave a heavily funded mining operation because of G-G-G-GHOSTS but as the show will helpfully remind us many times, miners are a suspicious group. So this guy brings in an all new team featuring people with names like Papa Smurf, Duck, and Dingus. They're the best mining team ever assembled, the Avengers of mining. But they're not the only ones in the mines! Two paranormal investigators, Patrick and Kristen, are brought on board as well to investigate if these haunted claims are true. What are their credentials? Well, Kristen specializes in paranormal psychology, America's fastest growing field, while Patrick has lasers.

One of the weird things this show tries to do is mine sympathy (Ah? Ah?) by telling us how hard it is for the miners to find jobs in this economy. At one point a miner tears up on camera telling us how this job is the last thing he has and how he needs it to support his family. A telling indication of the shrinking use for blue collar jobs we have here in America. A point the show could have gone further with if it didn't cut back to the paranormal investigators walking around in the dark saying "Did you hear that?" over and over again. Listen here Ghost Mine, it's hard to take your moments when you try to be serious about the difficulty of being a miner when the Ghostbusters are talking about how quartz deposits in the mine "tend to hold energy...which may lead to a haunting."

It's a pretty thin premise, which leads to a lot of forced conflict and tension. The miners are skeptical of the whole thing, or at least they are told to be by the crew off camera. Seriously, the only reality TV I really watch is Ru Paul's Drag Race. Are these shows always this blatantly fake? It's pretty hard to buy that a chance encounter in the mine between the miners and Team Haunted was so spontaneous when it's shot multicamera.

Honestly the big thing I got out of this was that it would be a much better show if it was called Mine and cut the ghost part out completely. It's pretty clear that despite being on this show the miners are legitimate and know what they're doing. A scene where they talk about and prepare blasting material for the mine's entrance is probably the most dynamic and interesting scene in the show. Until they cut to Patrick saying "We are very excited because the blasting may wake up some dormant spirits." Who are these guys? Their investigations also yield a broken whiskey bottle ("This may be an object the spirit is tied to!" says Kristen. In a surprise to nobody the lady at the local historical society tells them such bottles are pretty common in mines, which duh), a incredibly fake looking shadow over some laser dots ("What the hell is that?" says Pat for the 12th time), and some very sketchy audio recording. In the line of the episode, Kristen yells out to the ghosts "Are you angry because I'm a woman? And I have red hair in a mine?" Supposedly a voice replies "No" to both questions, leading to them thinking it's a friendly ghost. But it's all too much for Duck, who decides to call it quits.

That's Ghost Mine in a nutshell, yelling in the dark and then claiming every noise heard in a freaking operational mine is definite proof. It's no surprise that the show is fake, but at the very least they could fake it a little harder. On the Wicker Scale, Nicholas Cage is hanging out with the mine ghost, furious that a woman has red hair in a mine.

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