Every once in a while, being the victim of my mother’s television gives me a gem: Discovery’s The Deadliest Catch, TNT’s The Closer, any British Comedy shown on PBS, so on and so forth. This time it gave me nothing but a headache and a suspicion of anything with “haunted” directly in the title.

most-haunted-logo.jpgThe Travel Channel’s Most Haunted (Fridays at 10 P.M. ET/PT) is part of what I like to call the “Fright Night” hours amid other shows with variants or synonyms of “haunt” or “scary” in the title. Though all of them are a little lacking (mostly because the narrative styles are usually some variant of the Cryptkeeper), Most Haunted finds itself in a peculiar position: it purports to be real.

Yvette Fielding, a popular British actress for the show’s mainly British audience, leads a parapsychologist, amost-haunted-derek-acora.jpg historian, a cameraman, a boom man, and the token psychic – or two! – into old reportedly haunted British locales. Derek Acorah, apparently another in-joke among the British, is usually the psychic, though there are many episodes that include other psychics brought along to check Derek’s work. Then, thrust into some unimaginably old building with a dark past (“This manor was built in 1350 and someone was hung on the balcony. Let’s go inside!”), a lot of screaming ensues. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. Before and after said screaming are the standard trappings of the show: someone left alone in a room, a séance, Derek Acorah’s posession, and lots of night vision cameras pointed at the ground or at someone’s face while he or she looks around frantically in the dark.

The show might not be so bad if it wasn’t so predictable. The show tries to ooze credibility, but it only manages to compromise credibility by the suspicious formula every episode faithfully adheres to. Every once in a while, they change it up by finding little or no evidence of ghosts, or having another member of the team be posessed (or even pushed down in one episode). The Sci-Fi channel’s Ghost Hunters touts more science and seems much more realistic in terms of procedure and outcome (ironic, considering the network). Most Haunted relies too heavily on the fright of the crew and the gullibility of the audience to maintain any sort of credibility as it purports to do.