Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Destination Truth: A Paranormal Reality Show That Can Laugh At Itself

There are many reality shows currently on television but few have combined the fun of hunting monsters and ghosts with a travel show. That is what you get when you watch Destination Truth, a Sy-Fy original series. In it the host Josh Gates travels around the world to find proof of some local monster legends, or that is the obligatory ‘serious’ premise for the show. The fact is this show in all of its high ambitions is more about how different people around the world create and maintain myths. Whether it is in Tai Land or deep in the jungles of Africa the first thing Josh and his crew look for is people. The people provide the story and the camera crew goes out and tries to find it, even if it is a giant raping bat. That is right in one episode. This crew of monster hunters came across a story of a giant bat creature that raped a man in the night, or so the story went. As unlikely as it is that these intrepid adventurers will ever find a Yeti or Sea monster does not seem to matter. It’s all about the journey, and with the mostly funny, sometimes snarky comments made by Josh, the host/producer of the show, the entertainment is always there.

In some more serious supernatural shows where they look for things that any rational person would dismiss, you find the source of the entertainment. Making comments about the nonsense that you are seeing on the screen. ‘Maybe that noise you heard was the wind?’ or ‘Isn’t it more likely that you are seeing dust particles on your cameras then some disembodied spirit?’. Moments like this are filled in for the most part by the host of Destination Truth. And what is better TV watching? Seeing a bunch of people lurk around a small ‘hunted’ inn somewhere in nowhere USA or watching a group of people running around a jungle in the middle of Africa looking for an Ape Man, which even the investigators’ would be surprised to find. However, some of the better episodes of Destination Truth do actually revolve around looking for ghosts… but they are looking for ghosts. The thing is, the crew of Destination Truth does not seem to have the nerves of steel that other ghost hunters’ do that have a TV show. During one of their investigations’ that the Truth-ers were on, the team members took turns staying inside of a shack where paranormal activity was said to have taken place. That did not last long though, at the height of the investigation one of the male members of the team when girlishly screaming from the spooky shack after hearing what could best be described as… a noise, albeit a loud one. Also, during the search for a giant anaconda, yes like the one from the movie Anaconda, one of the crew members has a bit of a melt down over his fear of snakes. He begins to tell a story about some childhood trauma revolving around snakes only to be interrupted by the host of the show, where Josh the host said that because of the childhood trauma ‘you now dress as a snake and fight crime’. Or the time the crew was in Africa and tried to talk a local land owner into not sacrificing a chicken to appease the spirits that live in his woods. Luckily, the chicken did not die that night, but it is in these situations that the best parts of the show are revealed. While other pseudo-investigatory shows try and legitimize themselves through seriousness, Destination Truth in its own way has found a solid middle ground where they can have an adventure and look for something they will never find, but in the end entertainment is still had.

Essentially, Destination Truth has what many other paranormal realty shows lack, simplicity and adventure. Other shows such as UFO Hunter, Ghost Hunters and even Monster Hunters (all of these shows really exist) fall short in terms of entertainment. They become dull and some of the investigations are conducted in an unprofessional manner. This unprofessional behavior would be fine if the cast of the show itself were not so serious… they are looking for space ships and boogiemen, how serious can you be when conducting such an investigation? Destination Truth may have its occasional dull episodes, for the most part though it’s entertaining. Even though the other shows mentioned like to focus on particular areas the crew, ghosts or monsters and UFOs, Destination Truth takes on both, ghouls and monsters alike and investigate them in a more interesting way than the shows that have made those particular things the focus of their shows. It is hard to put your finger on what makes Destination Truth better than other paranormal shows but one thing is for certain it is one of the best shows on the Sy-Fy channel, partly because of the lightheartedness of the show and of course the wild locations that the crew visits.

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