Reality Bites: Haunted Highway
I tried to stay away, really I did. After my last foray into paranormal reality shenanigans, I decided the wiser course of action was to ignore the subgenre entirely and hope I hadn't engendered permanent ill will among the sinister denizens of the infernal regions.
She blinded me with [pseudo]science.
But with July 4 looming, I realized it was both my duty and my patriotic obligation to go once more into the breach of ghost-hunting shenanigans. Ladies and gentlemen, here's Haunted Highways.
Establishing the credibility of your ghost-hunting show is difficult when the lead-in is "WWE SmackDown." Then again, it's kind of a perfect fit; John Cena might very well be a jort-clad cyborg.
For starters, I almost felt bad watching the promos for Haunted Highway and wondering aloud, "Who's the dude that looks like a chubby Pacey from Dawson's Creek?" Turns out that's none other than Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy Osbourne, recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Unpleasant as MS is, "bloated Pacey Witter" is about as accurate a description of Jack O as you're likely to get, and all thanks to me. I am so smart. S-M-R-T. I mean, S-M-A-R-T.
The premise of Haunted Highway, if synapses fried by the stutter-cut intro are to be trusted, involves two teams of "paranormal investigators" with "no camera crew" and "no backup" searching for "things that don't want to be found." I guess the first episode will be looking for the real murderers of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.
Ha-ha, no...it's actually the Bear Lake Beast, of Bear Lake, Utah. Jack and his research associate, Dana Workman, whose paranormal bona fides include hosting Poker2Nite on Fox Sports Net and posing for bikini pics, get the skinny from one Brian Hitschi, who claims to have seen the beast. He gives a few vague descriptions, then agrees to let Jack borrow his boat. Meanwhile, Dana and her cheekbones set up infrared cameras on the shore.
To be fair, night vision makes everything look creepy.
The very scientific method of pointing a searchlight at the water doesn't bear fruit, so he heads further out, where the onboard sonar picks up a...thing. Further investigation with a camera duct taped to a pole also -- shockingly -- reveals nothing.
Trying a different tack, they meet with a marine biologist. The guy looks and talks like Bobby from Supernatural, which lends paranormal cred...I guess. His advice for Jack, who's planning on going on a night dive: "be careful." Naturally the guy is in a bind: On one hand, he's a scientist and has to maintain some level of skepticism; on the other...you don't want to put the kibosh on one of the few tourist attractions on the Utah-Idaho border.
The dive is plagued with unexplained phenomena like "poor visibility," while on the surface, Dana is beset by terrifying things like "waves" and "temperature variations" on her IR camera. There's some minor tension when Jack goes radio silent for 20 minutes, but he returns to the boat with a cow bone found in an underwater cave. Surely there can be no logical explanation for this.