A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this scary, pointless reality show features close-up shots of people (mostly C-list celebrities) being truly scared, as well as computer-generated images of ghosts and other paranormal activity. Participants engage in creepy acts like tying up a noose or sawing through bone in order to draw out spirits. Scenes are often dark, shadowy, and sometimes pierced with unexplained screams. Some participants treat others poorly, and in at least one episode, two people are engaged in a screaming match. There's lots of cursing, too, though most is bleeped.
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What's the story?
In each episode of this "celebreality" series, five C- and D-list stars (Survivor contestants, actor Gary Busey, ex-model Rachel Hunter, etc.) travel to an allegedly haunted place and conduct late-night experiments to ascertain the intensity of paranormal activity. Based out of a well-lit trailer, pairs of celebs travel into dark, decrepit buildings carrying video cameras and wearing headlamps, microphones, and mini-cams directed at their faces. The base camp leader directs them to a specific place in the building, plays a recorded message describing the paranormal activity recorded in the area, and gives further instructions to help the pair make contact with otherworldly forces. Interspersed between the "reality" segments in each episode are computer-generated scenes of ghosts and re-enactments of creepy historical events (like a hanging or a gory operation), creating the impression that viewers are witnessing more scary activity than they really are.
Is it any good?
As if reality shows couldn't get any more ridiculous, now CELEBRITY PARANORMAL PROJECT has reared its ugly head. Yet despite the silliness of the whole thing, you may find it hard to walk through the dark house alone after turning off the television. Kids should definitely stay away, but even teens could experience some sleep disturbances after watching. In one episode, for example, the group set up camp at the abandoned Waverly Hills Sanatorium, where 63,000 people died of tuberculosis in the early 1900s. One celebrity pair visited the operating room, where TB patients had their rib cages opened to expose their diseased lungs. Busey, a enthusiastic believer, sawed through a rib bone in order to re-enact the activity of the room and draw out the ghost who supposedly wanders the halls. Then, in order to build tension in an otherwise dull experiment, the camp leader asked the pair to split, sending Busey's partner out into the dark hallway alone. While she was there, she heard footsteps, saw shadows, and felt a presence -- next thing you know, she was screaming her lungs out while viewers watched her horrified face on the mini-cam, Blair Witch-style.
While some of the participants seemed truly affected by their surroundings in that episode, it was hard to believe the so-called evidence of paranormal activity that they discover. And it seemed particularly revealing that the one participant (Toccara from America's Next Top Model) who seemed to really grasp the ridiculousness of the experiment was the only one not to feel a presence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about haunted houses. Do you believe in ghosts or other spirits? Why or why not? Have you ever felt or seen something that couldn't be explained except by paranormal activity? Do you believe that the show's participants actually experience paranormal activity? Do you think some of the activity is faked by the producers? Why would they do that? Why do so many reality TV stars keep showing up in other projects? Do you think shows like this help their careers or hurt it?
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