Ghost Hunters: The Complete First Season (DVD)

Starring T.A.P.S

Distributed by Sci-Fi Channel

Unless you’ve been hiding in a dark corner of some forgotten ruin of a building, you know about Ghost Hunters, the hit reality series playing on the Sci-Fi Channel that follows the exploits of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS). Now the complete first season, all ten episodes of paranormal goodness, are available in a three-disc DVD collection. This set chronicles the exploits of Jason, Grant, Brian, Steven, and the other rotating TAPS members as they travel to places both public and private in search of things that go bump in the night. Sometimes they find answers. Sometimes they find more questions. Whatever they find, however, it is usually entertaining.

Episode 1: Altoona Pennsylvania, Private Residence
In the inaugural episode Grant, Jason, and the TAPS crew travel to Altoona to a residence where a woman’s daughter is having altercations with an unknown entity. When the TAPS team investigates, they catch EVPs (spirit voices on tape) that put perspective on the whole affair.

Episode 2: Mishler Theater/Altoona Railroad Museum
Two haunted sites without much haunt, this episode really serves to set up the dynamic tension between certain members of TAPS. It also serves to give some insight to the procedures and methodology of TAPS. Not the best episode in that there is not much evidence collected.

Episode 3: Stone’s Public House
This episode takes the viewers to Stone’s Public House, where TAPS manages to get several phenomena on film, as well as introduces more members of the TAPS family. And a dysfunctional family it is.

Episode 4: Race Rock Lighthouse
In the first truly impressive episode, TAPS travels out into dangerous water to an old lighthouse that is so haunted even the Coast Guard is reluctant to go there. While in other episodes the boys manage to get EVPs and strange orbs and light flashes on camera, this is the first in which something truly unexpected and unique happens, and it’s caught on camera.

Episode 5: Eastern State Penitentiary
Ask any paranormal investigator where they want to go, and this location is guaranteed to be near the top of the list. While the TAPS boys do not get a great deal on camera, they do manage to capture one piece of evidence that boggles the mind. This episode also serves to further the impression of TAPS as a somewhat dysfunctional family.

Episode 6: Converted Church Home
Impressive, but not for any evidence collected. This episode shows TAPS at their finest, debunking a supposed haunting. Watching them refuse to simply label every tiny thing as “paranormal” and investigate until they find the actual causes of the phenomena gives TAPS more credibility than other supposed paranormal investigative teams with their own television shows.

Episode 7: The Armory
By far the most famous episode, TAPS visits an old armory and captures not only strange video evidence but also more than they bargained for when one of the cameramen (Got that? Not one of the investigators, but one of the cameramen) is attacked by an unseen force. When watching several tapes reveal that the incident was captured on film, the viewers are treated to one of the most compelling instances, as well as an emotional turning of one person from skeptic to believer.

Episode 8: College Rent House/Topton Inn
Jason, Grant, and the team are up to their necks in paranormal hijinx and succeed in disproving at least one supposed haunting. Where rowdy neighbors are surely the cause of one haunting, the second on this episode may be more due to the imagination of the owners. In addition, the cameraman attacked in Episode 7 is interviewed about his experience and sees for the first time the footage of what happened to him.

Episode 9: New Boston Inn/Private Residence
TAPS picks up an investigation from another ghost-hunting group, only to find that many of their findings are full of holes. The second location in this episode shows Grant and Jason attempting to help a mother and daughter who believe their home is being plagued by malevolent entities.

Episode 10: Two Private Residences
A haunting with a reputation for being inhuman and aggressive refuses to make an appearance in this episode, leading the TAPS crew to believe that it may all be in the homeowner’s head. The second location, however, leaves little room for doubt as the TAPS team come away with EVPs in both English and Polish, the native language of the homeowner’s dead grandparents, whom he believes to be visiting him from beyond the grave.

What makes this series so interesting is that, while it does include its share of superstition and folklore, it always relies on hard scientific evidence before pronouncing something haunted or not. There are no psychics going into convulsions, though some of the members of TAPS appear to be a bit on the dramatic side.

Included in this set are scenes deleted from each episode. While some of them serve only to make the members of TAPS seem more human, others are simply long scenes that serve no real purpose whatsoever and were rightfully cut. It does, however, include an uncut version of the evidence from the Race Rock Lighthouse episode as well as multiple angles of the attack on the cameraman from the Armory. There are also a couple of chuckles as the TAPS crew play a couple of pranks on each other.

Also included is a five-minute, wholly uninteresting interview with Grant and Jason, in which they name their favorite episodes (which anyone can guess from watching the series) and talk about the good TAPS does. There is also a “Ghost Hunters Glossary” for the true novice of terms like “EVP” and “EMF METER.” Finally, the special features include the original trailer for the series as well as the inexplicably contained trailer for the series The Triangle.

I would have liked to have seen more information on the technical side, heard some ghost stories from other members of the crew, or learned a more extensive history behind the locations visited. I think the interview could have been much better with Grant and Jason explaining what experiences got them involved in the paranormal as well as other members of TAPS that make up the backbone of the team. Overall, however, the series is the best of its kind, and having them all collected together is worth the price of the DVD set.

Special Features
Deleted scenes
Interview with Jason and Grant
Ghost Hunters Glossary

4 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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