Aunt John’s Ghostly Guide to Basic Cable


Much to the consternation of your Unkle Lanicfer, your dear old Aunt John thinks the perfect recipe for some good T.V. watching (and by good T.V., I do mean basic cable) involves reality or reenactment-based programming with a supernatural twist. Admittedly, my love for this genre is deeply tied to my childhood fixation on IN SEARCH OF, hosted by LEONARD NIMOY. How great was that show? Each week presented a stock-footage heavy snapshot of hot topics I felt strongly about: ghosts, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Stonehenge, etc.

Although the television landscape has evolved, or devolved depending upon your viewpoint, over the past (cough) thirty years (sadly, it’s been that long since NIMOY went IN SEARCH OF anything I care about), reality shows (thanks REAL WORLD!) and reenactment programming (UNSOLVED MYSTERIES anyone?) eventually got together in some drunken pitch meeting and birthed a supernatural sub-genre I just can’t seem to get enough of.

In short order, I am fanatical for Discovery Channel’s A HAUNTING. It has a title sequence not unlike TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, and the myopic casting choices are always hysterical in that the actors are always exponentially much sexier than the real folks they are portraying. I also have a slight schoolgirl crush on A&E’s PARANORMAL STATE. I could care less that Ryan and the other acne afflicted young adults of the Penn State Paranormal Research Society have been in college for what seems forever, as long as they continue to consult with teddy bear medium extraordinaire CHIP COFFEY, I will keep tuning in, unless of course, it airs opposite CHIP’s side gig PSYCHIC KIDS: CHILDREN OF THE PARANORMAL. I am a COFFEY addict, what can I say?

This is not to say that I have embraced all of the apparition appointment television offerings. I sort of dug SYFY’s GHOST HUNTERS when it debuted, solely because co-hosts JASON and GRANT went to great lengths to remind us that they were meager plumbers by day and ghost busters on the weekend. Now they’ve gotten all fancy schmancy with not one but two spin-offs (GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL and the insufferable GHOST HUNTERS ACADEMY), and quite frankly, I’d rather have them come check out my pipes than look for a poltergeist in my pantry.

Whereas I would let the GHOST HUNTERS into my bathroom, I would not the frat-tastic troika of the TRAVEL CHANNEL’s GHOST ADVENTURES near my septic tank, unless the lid was off and I could push them into it. Put simply, they are the three biggest pieces of shit I have ever lost a half-hour or so of my life to.

Recently, ANIMAL PLANET has gotten on the spooky short bus with the unoriginally titled THE HAUNTED. Despite its suck-ass title, it’s pretty enjoyable fare. Each episode centers on either pets haunted by ghosts or people haunted by animal spirits, and I gotta tell you, that episode about the lady who opened the candle shoppe in the Poconos in a rustic house which turned out to be the former residence of some late doctor who experimented on monkeys in his basement while looking for the cure for yellow fever and now her dream boutique was haunted by said monkey ghosts made for some pretty compelling television watching.

Also, TLC dipped its big toe into the dead pool with the misleadingly titled GHOST INTERVENTION. Seriously, I was hoping they finally found a co-starring vehicle for CHIP COFFEY and INTERVENTION’s CANDY FINNEGAN, but alas, this ain’t that. Picture three new age ladies, one of which who only wears sarongs, telling people who knew that their houses were haunted that their houses are indeed haunted, and you get the very boring, sarong wearing picture.

That said, based on my expert knowledge of basic cable, it is just a matter of time before, say, THE FOOD NETWORK, BRAVO, and MTV gets in on the act and follows suit with similarly themed programming. If your Aunt John was in charge of a basic cable network, here are some shows I would like to see produced:

The semi-inebriated seeming FOOD NETWORK hostess who always does a semi-half-assed job with passing off store bought items as her own culinary creations shares her secrets for how to add a little prepackaged pizzazz to your next undead dinner party.

BRAVO’s bottle-blonde ball buster has no time for sloppy salons, and she has even less patience for mismanaged mausoleums. Watch what happens! Enough said.

Tired of fashion victims not following their rules, TLC style experts CLINTON KELLEY and STACY LONDON take their hen party to the other side and teach challenged spirits the simple steps for turning a routine haunting into a full-blown possession with panache.

Your Aunt John knows better than to tamper with a cash cow, and this PAULA DEEN vehicle follows the same blueprint as her other show, the primary difference is that all of her guest stars on this one die on camera from cardiac arrest brought on by butter.

Your Aunt John is also a firm believer of striking while the flat iron is hot, and the pre-production backlash brewing from the Garden State League of Italian-Americans Afflicted with Disposaphobia should be enough to make this a number one hit with the coveted tween demographic.

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13 years ago

Ghost Adventures is AWFUL! Fratboy’s taking on the paranormal, yeah. Though, it did have one of my favorite lines ever in a TV show, when they went to Bobby Mackey’s bar, where a supposed gateway to Hell is in the basement. Head Jocko (I forget his name… Beef, or something like that I’d imagine) screams out “If this is the gateway to Hell, why don’t you come out and get us!?!” That line is uttered too many times to count each week in my household. 🙂
As for TV show ideas, I’d love to see one with Bob Villa called This Old (Haunted) House, where the bearded wonder goes into supernatural places and attempts to fix their problems. Walls bleeding? Bad pipes! Digging out the septic and find an Indian burial ground? Call in an exorcist (though, make sure he’s licened, properly bonded and insured)! Lights flickering on and off? Faulty wiring! Call me sick, but I think that’d be awesome.

I would definitely watch What Not To Haunt though. That’d be a great show! Paula’s Paranormal Party could be fun too, but only if the ghosts would fling frozen hams at her face each episode.

13 years ago

Chip Coffey is my raison d’etre.  I absolutely love him and in moments where my faith in humanity has worn thin, Chip can restore it in an instant with his wonderful Southern no-nonsense manner.
I find, though, that Ghost Hunters doesn’t believe in the supernatural enough, Paranormal State believes in it too much, and there’s no happy medium.
Ghost Adventures, though, actually made me fall asleep twice and when it wasn’t putting me to sleep, it was pissin’ me off with the Bill ‘n’ Ted Take on the Supernatural approach.

Pax Romano
13 years ago

I would love to watch Sarah Lee’s Semi Undead!  Thanks for the afternoon belly laugh.  Well done, Aunt John, well done!

13 years ago

I want to marry Ryan from Paranormal State! I was hooked with the first episode! I as well am a Coffey addict. And who doesn’t looove Lorraine Warren?! 🙂 I agree about The Haunted, and A Haunting…great t.v. and def my kind of shows.

12 years ago

Supernatural Nanny! Jo Frost takes on possesed little monsters each week. Oh, wait, she kind of already does that :-O