The Worst Paranormal Reality Show
I came across an article titled “Gone Too Soon: The Five Best Paranormal Reality Shows That Should Never Have Been Canceled” by Dana Matthews. I was shocked that she had listed Ghost Stalkers as show that she believed should not have been cancelled.
Ghost Stalkers aired for only one season on Destination American in 2014 and featured John E.L. Tenney and Chad Lindbergh. Amazon’s description on the show is as follows;
“John Tenney and Chad Lindberg have both had near death experiences, putting them closest to knowing what exists on the other side of death. In GHOST STALKERS, John and Chad travel to some of the most haunted places in America - where "portals" to the spiritual world are believed to exist - to see if they can get a glimpse of the other side.”
John E.L. Tenney is depicted as the veteran investigator as he has been in the field for over 27 years. According to his website’s bio “Mr. Tenney has been actively involved in the field of anomalistic, conspiratorial, occult and paranormal research for almost three decades. It is estimated that, over the past 28 years, more than 85,000 people have attended one of John’s signature “Weird Lectures.” John E.L. Tenney’s columns and articles have been printed in magazines and newspapers world-wide, and he has lectured to numerous public and private schools, universities, organizations and clubs.”
Chad Lindbergh is an actor whose most notable role was in The Fast and the Furious. They don’t discuss Chad’s experience in paranormal investigation except to say that he had an NDE when he was a child. In the article Dana states “the intriguing premise of the series had both men spending the night all alone inside some of the most haunted buildings in the country. Because of the duo’s varying levels of experience, Chad having been a brand-new ghost hunter at the time, watching them both experience the same place alone differently was one of the most compelling elements of Ghost Stalkers. Tenney’s level-headed approach paired with Chad’s contagious enthusiasm struck a perfect balance, making the series’ six-episode run immensely watchable.”
In my interactions with paranormal investigators Ghost Stalkers is often referred to as “The Worst Paranormal Reality Show” . This is mainly because of the absurd amount of times they mention portals, wormholes, and vortices on the show. Another compliant about the show from paranormal investigators is the amount of screaming associated with one of the stars. It seems that many in the paranormal field view fear associated with ghostly encounters as a weakness and unscientific. To be fair to Ghost Stalkers, many who consider themselves paranormal investigators dislike almost every paranormal reality show that exists. Reality based paranormal investigating shows are often called unscientific, fake, and not representative of a proper paranormal investigation. Many people believe that the investigators on the these shows fake evidence or data and are not qualified to investigate the paranormal. I really never had an opinion on paranormal reality shows, however today I decided that I was going to watch every episode of what my paranormal friends had called “The Worst Paranormal Reality Show” and formulate my own opinions.
I have a degree in Psychological Research Methods and its no secret I love statistics. I try to keep stats on everything that I do. Well almost everything … I don’t keep stats when I’m drinking because that would be depressing. Anyway, I developed a checklist because I wanted to track the haunt-type experiences that were reported by Chad and John to see if I could identify any patterns. I also tracked some keywords which my paranormal friends had suggested. The key words I tracked were portals, vortex, vortices, wormholes, negative energy, violent, evil, and demons. Along with those I tracked the number of times either Chad or John screamed in fear.
I plopped my butt on the couch, turned on my Apple TV, and shelled out $9 for all six episodes. I clicked the play button for Episode 1, kicked my feet up, and hunkered down. As if watching 6 hours of “The Worst Paranormal Reality Show” weren’t enough, as soon as the intro played my dog got up from her sleep and went upstairs. As I yelled “it hasn’t even started yet you traitor!” she looked back, smiled, and farted. This was going to be a long day … and now I was alone with the Ghost Stalkers.
I want to start off my saying that I really enjoyed both John and Chad. I thought that they worked well together and I really felt concerned when they were “in ghostly trouble”. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that they were both genuine, scared, and did not fake or stage any of their experiences. As a matter of fact, both of them were so overwhelmed at points that they can be seen crying. John actually had to leave the prison in Episode 4 due to some sort of panic attack related to the phenomena he was experiencing (I will discuss this later). I find it enduring when investigators get frightened because to me it signifies that they are fearful of the unknown and the events are not staged. It takes courage to remain alone in a scary, dark, and haunted location when one is fearful. I thought both Chad and John showed tremendous courage. Kudos to them.
Had the show just been about those two investigating haunted locations I would have been impressed, however the downfall of the entire series has to be the inclusion of David Rountree. David Rountree appeared (very briefly) in all but one episode of Ghost Stalkers and was depicted as the “tech expert” and “wormhole guru”. It appears as if the show was heavily inspired by David Rountree and his portal or wormhole theories related to paranormal experiences. For those who don’t know David Rountree please do your research on him. He is a fraud, liar, and one of the biggest embarrassments to paranormal investigators everywhere. According to reports, he has lied about his educational background, his research, and his military experience. Before you go any further please read here, here, and here for more information on Rountree. It pains me to reference Rountree in something I wrote but I think its important to know about his wormhole theory as it is the basis of the show. According to Rountree in his article Portals, Vortices, and Wormholes:
“We have long suspected that there are fixed doorways or portals in certain areas that may allow entities to travel from their domain into our universe. These entities maybe spirits, demons, extraterrestrials, or something we have never even imagined. Repetitive phenomena that persist over long spans of time are likely to be related to portals, as opposed to sites that have been the location of an isolated or otherwise unconnected violent death or tragic accident to which the phenomena can be easy to trace historically. Evidence seems to indicate that many portals are at fixed places all over the world, and that they remain constant. Controlled experiments performed around some of these suspected portals have shown that there are definite unexplained temperature fluctuations, increased low frequency spontaneous EMF readings, increases in negative and or positive ion counts (in some cases like pulses or waves), transient spikes in alpha, beta and gamma radiation, increased background static electricity, and increased electrical as well as magnetic fields.”
The show’s basic premise is that in all these haunted locations there is a portal in which ghosts or dark forces manifest or travel through to haunt these locations. Rountree shows up with his “ghost-tech” and purports to be able to measure these portals. I’m not sure if John Tenney believes Rountree’s bullshit or not but he definitely plays along and often mentions how gamma radiation, ion counts, static electricity, and environmental occurrences (i.e. running water and crystals) cause the formation of portals. I want to be “crystal” clear that portals or wormholes aren’t just a theme of the show … they are the star of the show. The first episode was 44 minutes. During those 44 minutes the words portals, wormholes, vortex, or vortices where mentioned 56 times. That means that they were mentioned more than once per minute. Over 6 episodes the words portal, wormhole, or vortex were mentioned 208 times. The agenda was clear that the Ghost Stalkers believe that paranormal and ghostly phenomena are the result of entities utilizing or manifesting as the result of portals, vortices, or wormholes.
By Episode 4 it is actually comical and my focus was taken away from Chad and John’s experiences and more on the absurdity of the reliance on portals to explain all paranormal phenomena. It is also in Episode 4 where David Rountree’s antics and “ghost tech” reached a boiling point.
Episode 4- Holmesberg Prison
In this episode John and Chad investigate Philadelphia’s Holmesberg Prison, which was the location of many violent deaths, riots, and trauma. Much like all abandoned prisons this place looks the part of a haunted location. The team settled in on an area called the “terror dome” to be the location of the portal.
I’m not entirely sure how they determined where the portals were in any of the locations. Anyway, much like every episode once the location of the portal is determined they call in Rountree to set up his tech and conduct “experiments”.
In the previous episode and in this episode Rountree sets up a Tesla Coil and states that he is going to pump “50,000 volts of electricity” into the area to give the portal enough energy to form or in his words “stimulate wormhole formation”. Once the portal is formed the spirits or entities will continue to utilize the electricity to communicate with John and Chad. A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit designed by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1891. It is used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity. I want to stress that it’s purpose is to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency AC current. Let me say it again, its PURPOSE is to produce EMF disturbances, specifically high frequency AC current. After turning on the Tesla Coil, Rountree then sets up his equipment to measure any EMF disturbances. Guess what? He found emerging EMF, however this is mainly because he caused these EMF disturbances by pumping "50,000 volts of electricity" into the environment with his tesla coil. Things progress and Chad is hanging out by the Tesla coil attempting to communicate with the ghosts. At this point, Rountree becomes vague stating “weird stuff” is happening, while pointing at his computer noting changes in the high frequency wave forms insinuating that these changes are related to entities or portals and completely ignoring the fact that he has placed a piece of equipment which sole purpose is to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency AC current. Isn’t it possible that the equipment that he is using to “stimulate wormhole function” is perhaps causing EMF and environmental disturbances? In my opinion any subjective experiences that Chad or John have after setting up the Tesla Coil are null and void as they can be attributed to the electricity or EMF fluctuations from the Tesla Coil or “50,000 volts of electricity” that Rountree is pumping into the environment.
If you are attempting to study a location with reports of ghostly encounters you want to keep the environment and all variables similar to when the experiences occurred. In other words, if I wanted to determine the average temperature of my house in the summer months I might set thermometers in every room and track the temps over the course of summer. I then could get an average temperature that would be accurate. You wouldn’t start a fire in your living room or jack up the heater to determine the average temperature of your house in the summer because you wouldn’t get accurate data. Rountree is “jacking up” the electricity in the environment which oddly enough causes Chad and John both to start to experience somatic complaints, bodily sensations, panic-like symptoms, and confusion around the Tesla Coil. Those who report to be sensitive to high levels of EMFs often report muscles aches, burning sensations, rashes, anxiety, and foggy thinking when exposed to high levels of EMF. Rountree’s tesla coil may have unknowingly caused every ghostly experience they encountered as well as the panic attack that John had which caused him to leave the prison.
Episodes 5 and 6
Surprisingly, Episodes 5 and 6 were the best episodes in the season. This is due in large part to the show easing up on portal and wormhole talk. In fact, Episode 6 only mentioned portals 14 times which is four times less than the 56 times on Episode 1. You can see the tone of the show changing as John and Chad are beginning to discuss some interesting concepts related to ghostly encounters such as the role of human dynamics and consciousness. Wait a minute … this show is improving! This is some good shit going on here.
If you are familiar with my book or my blogs you know that I’m a strong believer that human emotions, bioenergetics, and consciousness are integral to ghostly encounters. At this point, I’m actually sitting on the edge of my seat as John is discussing how human dynamics can affect the environment and he even suggests how human belief and intent may inadvertently cause paranormal phenomena. In other words, he is suggesting that some phenomena may have some natural causes and not be related to portals, spirits, negative energy, or ghosts. I’m nodding my head and agreeing with John and then the unthinkable happens, something out of a horror movie, something that is so scary it bothers me to even write it …
Roundtree shows up with some equipment. Aaghhhhhhhhhhh!
I thought we were done with him (he was not in Episode 5). As the camera pans to Rountree’s sweat stained hat, I think to myself if this asshole says portals I’m going to punch the TV and drink a bottle of whiskey. He is holding a blood pressure cuff and some piece of “tech” which looks like a child’s toy. Rountree puts the blood pressure cuff on Chad and tries to convince him that his elevated blood pressure is due to ghosts and portals in the area. No dumbass, his elevated blood pressure is due to him being anxious, fearful, nervous, or maybe even genetics. As absurd as it sounds, Rountree may believe that all elevated blood pressure readings in haunted locations are the result of ghosts and portals. Let me try to tell that to my physician at my next check-up.
Let’s bring the focus back to John and Chad’s experiences which are the most compelling part of the show. Together they had a total of 135 ghostly or paranormal experiences. They averaged 22.5 experiences per episode. The most prevalent phenomena reported by far was auditory phenomena (46) which includes hearing disembodied voices, EVPs, footsteps, etc. Refer to the graph below for the breakdown of experiences.
I attempted to track the number of times they mentioned words which suggested a negative energy, demon, or evil spirit however it got challenging as they often used terms like dark, tormented, etc. and it became difficult to track and would have led to subjective bias on my part so I will not include that data. I did count 45 occurrences of screams in response to paranormal phenomena (mostly Chad). The amount of screaming and “fearful behavior” was a compliant that I head from paranormal investigators about the show. They seem to think that reacting in this manner made the investigation less scientific, however like I said before I disagree with this.
Ghost Stalkers is bad. However, this is not due to John and Chad, but rather the premise of the show which is that ghosts and paranormal phenomena are the result of wormholes and portals. They pushed this viewpoint too much which caused the show to be comical, therefore not taken seriously. The producers should have focused more on paranormal phenomena and the chemistry of John and Chad and less on portals, wormholes, vortices, and Rountree.Is this the “Worst Paranormal Reality Show”?
Episodes 1-4 were difficult to watch, however the series started to get better in Episode 5 and 6. As a matter of fact, if the show would have steered away from talking about portals and Rountree then I think this show could have been one of the best.
I sincerely hope that Chad and John get another chance and perhaps more creative freedom as I suspect that they were not strong proponents of the whole portal and wormhole agenda.
Paranormal reality shows can be both entertaining and stay true to the field itself. I think that if producers and television networks are willing to step outside the box in regards to format there can be a whole new movement in reality television shows. If any of those producers or networks are reading this feel free to get in touch because I have several ideas and suggests on how to revamp these paranormal shows.
Also please leave some more suggestions in the comments section for the worst paranormal reality show. I'm thinking of reviewing these shows on a montly basis in the hopes of finding the worst of the worst.
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org