October 8, 2008
GH: Oak Alley Plantation
Well I just had to rush this review to press. This investigation gives us much to talk about so without further preamble, here's my take on the Ghost Hunters investigation of the Oak Alley Plantation.
First off, this was a full-episode investigation, which I would say is always a good thing. It also started off with Jay & Grant receiving a phone call while plumbing in Rhode Island again, despite the fact that this involves us somehow believing they go to work with a camera crew (while there is a similar camera crew with Kris in the office getting a synch shot) and despite the fact that we know they just filmed at two locations in Florida prior to this (and Steve doesn't fly) so why would they go back to Rhode Island in-between Florida and Louisiana? I'll roll my eyes one more time and leave it at that, let's move on.
Barry Fitzgerald, who worked with TAPS originally on their first (and only) overseas investigations in Ireland and is currently of Ghost Hunters: International fame, came to America on an apparent working vacation to fulfill his dream of investigating an old southern plantation, just as Jay & Grant fulfilled theirs of investigating an old European castle when they first visited him. Also, surprise: Joe Chin & Kristyn Gartland came along for the ride (we see them in the van with Barry), so welcome back guys. On second thought, maybe everyone did drive back to Rhode Island in between investigations. Otherwise I might be suspicious as to whether or not they "re-enacted" their road-trip radio chatter between the van with all the people that were at the Florida investigations and the van with all the people who were not at those investigations. Odd that they couldn't fit the extra three people in that big truck Jay & Grant drive with only Kris in the back. All the equipment is in Steve & Tango's truck after all.
Of course, this is all probably just me being unnecessarily cynical, so I'll just drop it and move on to the meat & potatoes of the investigation. Besides, it is fair to say that re-enacting the process of who found out about the investigation, when and how, and when and how everyone arrived on-scene has no bearing on the substance of the investigation. It's just mildly annoying for those of us who insist on trying to keep everything straight with a fine-toothed comb. Our own fault, really.
So most of the activity that has been reported at this plantation revolved around a woman, often reported as a shadow-like apparition, who is believed to be the former owner and resident. As usual I'm not going to spend a lot of time on what other people reported, because the GH team will either catch corroborating evidence (in which case we'll discuss) or not (in which case it doesn't matter). Suffice it to say that there are a lot of reports about this woman and they involve everything from seeing her (shadow-like form) walk across a room, in a mirror sitting next to you, or making an impresion sitting on the bed in what is believed to be her former room.
Right away, Jay seemed intent on making a lot of people very angry. He went up to the 2nd floor with Grant, holding the FLIR like a ghost detector as usual when he saw a heat signature in a couple of window panes. Immediately it was clear to me this was a reflection, but Jay insisted it was coming from outside. He sent Grant outside and aimed the thermal camera at the window again, seeing nothing even though Grant was right on the other side. This is absolute confirmation that heat signatures are not passing through the window, and therefore the heat signature Jay saw must have been a reflection. Rather than accept this blatantly obvious fact, Jay & Grant shrug and say they don't understand what their evidence means.
Worse: they show this to their guide during the reveal and leave her describing how impressed she was with the footage of the "man looking in the window". Back in season one when they caught the "civil war soldier" on the locker it was somewhat understandable because they had this high-tech, expensive device but no real concept of how it worked or what it was showing them. Even though they continue to cite that "civil war soldier" as some of their "best evidence" (I am retching right now) at least they started recognizing the mistake in later investigations and saying, "I thought I caught something on the FLIR, but it turns out it was just Grant's reflection", etc.
Sometimes they caught a reflection, made a poor attempt to recreate it and then claimed (wrongly) that it couldn't have been a reflection, but very clearly they understood the concept of a thermal reflection and the circumstances under which they occur. For Jay to put Grant outside that window, not see him on the FLIR and then still insist that whatever he caught on the original footage must have been outside the window — without even once mentioning the word reflection either means Pilgrim did a hatchet job on the editing (I don't think so, considering he showed it during the Reveal) or Jay should get to the doctor immediately to make sure he doesn't have early-onset Alzheimer's (I say this not to mock, but in all seriousness and to offer a less offensive alternative to the next possibility) or Jay is conducting an intellectually dishonest investigation by deliberately playing dumb.
There is no question what he sees is a reflection, the fact that we can't see Grant on the other side of the glass in the second shot proves this beyond all doubt, end of story. For someone who has had four years learning how the thermal camera works from trial, error and feedback from fans there is absolutely no excuse for Jay's supposed befuddlement over the footage.
Onto a lighter subject: Barry headed outside with Joe (and the FLIR) and chatted Joe up, eliciting basically Joe's entire life story condensed into ten seconds. I know this investigation was filmed months ago during the summer, but it's almost like the producers are reading this site — through a time machine! Of course, without a time machine it's still possible that someone went back and re-cut this episode to include some more Joe & Kristyn footage after reading my post "A Note to the Producers" but I doubt it. If so, that would have to be some pretty fast editing! Still, I'll throw out a relevant pointer here: show us, don't tell us. When Tango came into the show, he showed us who he was. Joe (and Kristyn) still seems very one dimensional because they haven't really had the opportunity to do that, or if they have they haven't used it well.
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