Paranormal State
Produced By: Four Seasons Productions International and Go Go Luckey Productions
Featuring:: Ryan Buell and his organization, The Paranormal Research Society
Premieres: Monday, December 10, 2007 at 10:00 p.m. on A&E

Do you believe in ghosts? I’m not sure where I stand on the whole spirits-walking-among-us concept but I’m open minded enough to consider it a possibility. This is pretty much a requirement if you’re planning on watching A&E’s new reality series, Paranormal State. Similar to Sci Fi’s Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State explores the spooky world of ghosts.

The series follows Ryan Buell, a college student at Penn State University, who founded the Paranormal Research Society with some of his fellow students. They spend a lot of their time investigating paranormal activity. The group speaks with people who claim to be haunted by ghosts. They use video equipment and Electronic Voice Phenomenon recordings in an attempt to capture the spirits on audio or video.

In the first episode of the series, Buell and his group meet with the family of a young boy named Matthew, who claims he’s being haunted by ghosts. Buell, who says that he’s had his own interactions with ghosts when he was a child, can relate to this kid and wants to help the family out. One of the spirits haunting Matthew is a man named Timmy. As there was a man named Tim who committed suicide on the property where Matthew now lives, the PRS believes he might be the ghost that Matthew is seeing so frequently.

The team takes some time to speak with the family, interview the neighbors and get a general idea of what they’re dealing with here. They also camp out to try and get a recording of the ghost. But finding the ghost doesn’t seem to be their primary focus. The group seems to be equally, if not more concerned about the welfare of Matthew and his family than they are in ghost hunting. Matthew, who is kind of like Haley Joel Osment’s character in The Sixth Sense, is obviously seriously affected by his experiences. The PRS brings in a therapist to talk to him and ask him some questions while they speak with Matthew’s parents. It’s evident that what is going on with their son has really affected their lives.

There are some creepy moments in the episode but it doesn’t look like the goal of the series is to scare the crap out of people. The main focus of the series, based on the first episode, seems to be on the people who have encountered the ghosts and how their lives have been affected by the encounters. While I was watching the episode, I found myself feeling skeptical about the whole ghost thing but at the same time, feeling sympathy for the family that is featured. Whether or not Matthew is really seeing ghosts (and the kid is seriously convincing), this family is going through a really hard time dealing with it. The fact that the PRS was willing to take their problem seriously seemed to have a positive affect on them as a family.

So as I said, you kind of need to have an open mind about the whole ghost thing in order to enjoy this show but even if you’re not 100% on board with what these people believe and are trying to prove, there is more to the series than just catching ghosts. Just be prepared to be a little bit creeped out at times and willing to consider the possibility that ghosts might really exist.

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