Thursday, February 28, 2013

'Stranded' premiere reaction

The Syfy network debuted its latest paranormal show Stranded, on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET on the heels of its long-running hit, Ghost Hunters. Based on what I read on social media, fans of paranormal programming are, yes, very loyal to certain teams, but also like to check out fresh shows.

Fans of Destination Truth host Josh Gates, were happy to hear that he was behind the scenes as co-executive producer of Stranded, so there was already an eager fan-base. As a fan myself, I was excited to check out this horror docu-drama and even put in my two-cents as a behavioral therapist.

What makes Stranded different from the other "investigation" shows out there is that it’s "real people" investigating "real haunted locations." These aren’t seasoned investigators who have been out there doing this for years on organized teams. Plus, this is not a one or two night stint where they could go home and sleep in their own beds -- they’re stuck at the location, alone with each other, for five days.

(But you already know this because you read Aaron Sagers' interview with Josh, right?)

This whole concept fascinated me because I was curious to see what their state-of-mind was going to be in the end.

Right away, I liked this episode’s team: An ex-couple, believer Sara and science-minded Sean, and their skeptic friend, Xand. They seemed down-to-Earth and green enough to elicit a reaction. The location was the Oceanic Hotel on New Hampshire’s, Star Island. Sound familiar? The Ghost Hunters investigated it in Season Five, so it’s a well-known place, and the team is aware of this.

As soon as they arrive, they spy a guest book with information on the hotel and its history, including reports that the fourth floor is especially haunted because it was the home to 14 staff members who drowned in a tragic accident. It’s also called "Ghost Alley." This immediately plants disturbing information into their psyches. Well-played.

The threesome also obtained some familiar investigation tools so they could document any activity. And investigate, they did. They really seemed to know their stuff, but they are briefed before-hand on how to use the equipment. They did their best to debunk noises, mysteriously opened windows and set up a kick ass, albeit creepy as hell, doll trap. It surprised me that Xand remained a skeptic after her freak-out experience while investigating solo but happy she gained more respect for the unknown.

I was impressed at the process but, as a skeptic, found myself wondering just how little or how much paranormal investigating experience these folks had. Also, were there any psychological tests done on them before or after their experience? In the beginning, when the hotel was first seen, one of the females mentioned how it was like "like The Shining."

What if it ended like that movie? Putting three novices in a secluded location for so long is really ballsy, and you know what? I like it. It’s different, and yes, people have compared it to the ABC Family series Scariest Places on Earth but this has more grit.

I’ve been watching these paranormal shows for as long as I can remember, from In Search Of to Haunted Collector and everything in-between. I have given up on many because they’re the same thing each week, but Stranded is dynamic, different and controversial -- and got my heart racing. I’d like to see maybe a quick recap at the end on how the teams were doing a week or a month later, but overall, I hope the show stays stranded on Syfy for a long time.

Now it’s time to put your two-cents in ...we know you want to.

-Larissa Mrykalo