SyFy: ‘Ghost Hunters’ Renewed For Ninth Season, Winter Premiere Date Announced

Via Press Release:

SYFY’S HIT REALITY SERIES GHOST HUNTERS RETURNS FOR A NINTH SEASON THIS WINTER

16 All-New Season 9 Episodes to Debut in January 2013

NEW YORK – November 13, 2012 – Ghost Hunters, Syfy’s longest-running original reality series, returns for a ninth season this winter. Sixteen all-new season 9 episodes are slated to premiere beginning January 16, 2013 at 9 PM ET/PT.

“Ghost Hunters has proven itself to be an enormously popular paranormal series that continues to evolve successfully with each new season,” said Mark Stern, President Original Content, Syfy and Co-Head, Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. “While the Ghost Hunters mission of helping those in need remains at the heart of each investigation, we’re thrilled by the increased scope of the cases being undertaken and the series’ revitalized style and energy, all of which contribute to making Ghost Hunters an even more vibrant, visually stimulating and exciting experience going into its ninth season.”

In Season 9, fans can look forward to seeing the TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) team’s latest innovations in ghost hunting equipment and techniques, as they use more technology than ever before to capture evidence of paranormal activity. TAPS – led by Jason Hawes – will investigate new, high-profile locations across the country, while continuing its mission of helping families in need of assistance from the Ghost Hunters.

Since its Season 8 mid-season premiere on September 5, Ghost Hunters has averaged 1 million viewers in Adults 18-49, 1.3 million viewers in Adults 25-54 and 2.2 million total viewers (all data Live +7). The midseason premiere was also the paranormal series’ most-watched premiere since August 2010.

Season 8 continues through December 5, wrapping up with a special holiday investigation at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut.

Since its 2004 premiere, Ghost Hunters has spawned two spin-offs with over 200 episodes among the three series, cementing its place as the No. 1 paranormal franchise on cable. For more than eight years, Ghost Hunters has set the standard for paranormal series, offering viewers spine-tingling investigations by the TAPS team.

Ghost Hunters is produced for Syfy by Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios (Dirty Jobs, The Ultimate Fighter, Top Shot). Piligian and Thomas Thayer, along with Mike Nichols and Alan David, serve as executive producers.

Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (www.Syfy.com), and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 98 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. (Syfy. Imagine greater.)

AMC: ‘Small Town Security’ Renewed, New Unscripted Series ‘Road Show’ Greenlighted

Via Press Release:

AMC Greenlights Unscripted Series “Road Show”

Network Renews “SMALL TOWN SECURITY” for a Second Season

New York – September 28, 2012 – AMC announced today the greenlight of a new unscripted original series “Road Show” working title (w/t), created and executive produced by Laurie Girion (“Cheerleader Nation,” “Welcome to Sweetie Pies”) and Storyvision Entertainment and distributed internationally by Sony Pictures Television. “Road Show” (wt) organizes competitions in small towns across the country, featuring local talent who get the chance of a lifetime to be in the spotlight.

AMC also announced today the renewal for a second season of “Small Town Security,” the unscripted series that centers on a small, family-run security and private investigation company. Season one premiered in July to critical acclaim, with USA Today hailing it as a reality show that “manages to defy the stereotype” and the Associated Press saying it “bristles with authenticity even as it feels deliriously (and sometimes hilariously) hyper-real with its larger-than-life characters.” The series is produced by Left/Right Films.

“Small Town Security” and “Road Show” (wt) are both scheduled to premiere in the second quarter of 2013.

“‘Small Town Security’ was such a great ride for us in season one, and we are thrilled to be able to continue that into a second season. We have only just begun to get to know the folks at JJK Security, and there are incredibly funny and wonderful stories left to tell,” said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s evp of original programming, production and digital content. “‘Road Show’ is a doc style talent competition series that celebrates the stories of the people who ever sang into their hairbrush, or lost sleep over their premiere in a community theater production. It’s the local talent show writ large, and will focus on the personal stories as much as the actual talent competition.”

“Road Show” gets into the heart of America’s obsession with performing and becoming a star under the notion that every town has a story and every town has a star. The series centers on small town talent shows, and the comedy that ensues when a little bit of Hollywood shows up to give people who have long submerged their artistic dreams of becoming a star a chance to be the big fish in the little pond of their hometown. Each episode the series holds “open call auditions,” welcoming everyone from singers and dancers to comedy acts and jugglers. “Road Show’s” director and choreographer, who are the series’ two mentors, then select four finalists to participate in a talent show held at a local venue. The audience gets to know the finalists and their back-stories as they are coached over multiple days by these mentors. The goal is to bring out the best of their abilities in preparing them for their performance at a “Big Show” in front of a local audience who will select the winner. “Road Show” has been greenlit for 8, one-hour episodes.

“Small Town Security” first premiered on AMC in July 2012. The series is executive produced by Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver from Left/Right Films (This American Life, Boomtown, Mob Wives).

“Small Town Security” is an unscripted, workplace series. This sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, and sometimes just plain unusual series explores the inner workings of a small, family-run security and private investigation company in Ringgold, Georgia called JJK Security. The show captures the day-to-day running of the business, but it’s really about the curiously entertaining and oddly compelling characters that inhabit this world. From sophomoric humor to soap opera-like drama, the incredibly genuine and slightly bizarre employees at JJK are definitive proof that truth can be stranger than fiction. Season two has been renewed for eight half-hour episodes.

AMC’s Stillerman, Mary Conlon, VP of non-scripted original programming, Jason Fisher, SVP of production, Tony Colon, VP of production and Ari Mark, director of development, oversee the development and production for the network’s unscripted series.

For more information, visit AMC’s press website: http://press.amctv.com

About AMC

AMC reigns as the only cable network in history to ever win the Emmy®Award for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row. Whether commemorating favorite films from every genre and decade or creating acclaimed original programming, the AMC experience is an uncompromising celebration of great stories. AMC’s original stories include “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead” and “Hell on Wheels.” AMC further demonstrates its commitment to the art of storytelling with its slate of unscripted original series, as well as curated movie franchises like AMC’s Can’t Get Enough and AMC’s Crazy About. AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc. and its sister networks include IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv. AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile. AMC: Story Matters HereSM.

 

VIC’S REVIEWS: ‘Alaska State Troopers’ (National Geographic – Sundays, 8:00 p.m.)

Follow one of the toughest law enforcement agencies in the nation, patrolling alone on unforgiving terrains. Responding by land, air, and sea—with backup sometimes days away—these troopers patrol hundreds of miles of rugged terrain in bone-chilling temperatures to protect the people and wildlife of Alaska. Whether it’s overturned snow machines in 22-degree weather, violent chainsaw crimes, volatile fishermen zigzagging down waterways, thieves stealing essential village items, moose-hunting checks, gunman confrontations in the wilderness, or intoxicated gold miners blocking roads—being prepared for anything is just part of the job.

Cameras ride along with Alaskan State Troopers as they keep the streets safe and hunters honest while at the same time taking advantage of the breathtaking landscape that Alaska State Troopers are lucky enough to call “their office.” -NatGeo

Score:     80 out of 100

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I have to give credit to NatGeo for providing several episodes of Alaska State Troopers on YouTube, uncut and for free (they also charge on YouTube for full seasons, so that’s saying something).  While we can’t post them to our channel without a guarantee of a copyright strike against us, we have posted them at the end of this review for you to enjoy while they are still up.  At the time of publishing there was one episode from season one and nine episodes from season two.  Enjoy!

NatGeo’s Alaska State Troopers is not just another pedestrian Cops knock-off… y’know, like the kind of crap that permeates Spike TV on a regular basis; the typical police cruiser/fleeing suspect chase show where we see endless loops of speeding perps and footage consisting almost entirely of bad dash-cam video.  No offense to Spike (you guys do air the Star Wars films, after all), and I can see where some might offhandedly dismiss it as Cops in Alaska, however, I think that comparing AST to its well-known predecessor and  less-than worthy successors does a disservice to this very original series. I grew to enjoy the show and I became a steady viewer of it after the first season which aired back in 2009.  At first, it was just a show that would serve as background noise while I would write or do some studying (something I still do with Ancient Aliens or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), but every now and then I’d glance over at the TV and get pretty involved with the way the show was delivered to the audience, with the first feature being the obvious: the photography.

Done in documentary style,  AST is beautifully filmed by a host of well-known cinematographers including Josh Becker and Jason Fierst, whose credits include Frontier Force and I (Almost) Got Away With it. The audience is regularly treated to beautiful aerial shots of surrounding snow-covered mountains, hills, valleys and lakes that are scattered across the Alaskan landscape, in locales such as Wasilla and Anchorage. The camera coverage of Alaska is absolutely stunning and amazing to watch, so there is never any wasted “filler” footage, there. We are drawn into the show by the different locations that the brave troopers cover. Usually, an episode will alternate between these locales and we ride along with a variety of troopers, each with their own unique personalities, incredible tales and history. These troopers are diligent, strong and have amazing stamina to not only weather the climate that Alaska beats down on them but to have to deal with hunters, roadkill, drug dealers, meth addicts and even the occasional inebriated Alaskan or two.

Veteran voice actor Marc Graue (Fallout, Resistance 3) provides the narration for AST and is pitch perfect here. Graue has a great voice and he can pull us into the drama with that velvet tenor of his. He carries the show’s narrative as we meet up with the various troopers that include troopers Howie Peterson, Dan Cox, Abraham Garcia and Lance Ewers who represent just a few of the troopers from different regions of the great state.

As far as the “main cast of characters” goes and what I truly appreciate about AST, these guys are hardcore, real and they have an amazing capacity for taking what Alaska dishes out… even when it’s not from a human. Snowstorms, ice storms, fog, moose, bears, etc., they see it all. At times they are dispatched to move hurt animals from the side of the freeways. They do it mercifully, with compassion and are not shy about displaying emotion. In one episode  a trooper even tracks down an injured Moose and has to put it down. This is pretty heavy stuff from an unscripted police show.

Sometimes, our heroes are dispatched to chase wanted felons and criminals while enduring poachers and moose season. Some of the braver troopers get called out with frequency to very isolated areas and deal with arrest warrants and dangerous felons that hide out in log cabins, run down shacks, mountains and rusted-out trailers. These are usually the very militant types that don’t take too well to trespassers… even if they are the law.

DUI on the 4th of July is one of the many standout episodes of the series. The troopers have to contend with some very rowdy party goers who are enjoying themselves a bit too much and as usual, we see our troopers handle stressful situations with professionalism and grace. Then, some other troopers handle a very precarious search and rescue on melting ice. I have to really give these officers credit and respect for all they do. What differentiates this show from Cops and the rest is that the show’s director,  Brian Michel,  gives us raw, real and very visceral footage here and no two episodes are the same. We get some fun and frivolous stuff like a dude trying his damndest to hide from the troopers while he is clearly in plain sight to some more serious stuff like when a poor meth-addicted girl cries for help from her addiction. It’s all very emotionally gripping.  So all in all, AST is a very engaging series from NatGeo. Kudos to them for making me look up from my laptop and involving me in some captivating TV.  

As an aside, in an awesome display of the show’s popularity, some puppies were dropped off at dog Shelter in Kentucky and two pups were named Trooper Dahl and Trooper Peterson after the brave officers from the show.  Read about it here.

Season four of Alaska State Troopers starts this Sunday, October 7th.

VIC’S REVIEW: ‘Chasing UFOs’ (National Geographic – Friday, 10:00 pm)

A team of trained investigators sets out to uncover the truth about UFOs. But they’re not just looking for more stories on extraterrestrial activity—they want answers. Risking it all, this team of scientists and UFO researchers investigate and dissect some of the most mysterious sightings on the planet to unearth stunning new evidence. The data they collect on these adventures paints an entirely new picture of what we know about these strange lights in the sky. – Nat Geo

Rating:     50 out of 100

Chasing UFOs is a very strange and peculiar amalgam of various “paranormal reality” shows. It is a blend of some more cerebral and methodical ghost hunting shows mixed in with the zaniness of your average UFO/Alien programs such as UFO Hunters and the zaniest of all alien documentary shows, the grand poobah, Ancient Aliens, I must admit when the show was announced I was intrigued on how they would pull off something like chasing UFOs around in the skies. Especially when the chasers themselves, Ben McGee (The Skeptic), James Fox (The Believer and man, does he ever believe) and the cute, spunky leader and Tech person, Erin Ryder, are so damned earth-bound. I was curious indeed.

Being a sucker for these paranormal shows (that are becoming more and more prevalent), I bit the bullet and tuned in. Having devoured shows like this in the past like SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, History’s UFO Hunters and a bevy of other shows from A&E and even Bio, I expected a familiar approach and philosophy throughout the program. Boy, did I get blind-sided. First, I set my expectations way too high… my fault. Second, I was spoiled by how serious and informative most of these show try to be no matter how funky it all came across. Chasing UFO’s, sadly is a bit of a letdown but I stuck it out because it does have its charms. They are few and far between, but enough to warrant a re-watch of other episodes that do progress nicely while the chemistry between our “chasers” improve and entertain.

So, where I’m going with this is that the strongest asset, in my opinion, is the cast themselves. They come from diverse backgrounds and their home base is in California. They travel the country tracking down witnesses, experts, retired astronauts and just about every other type of UFO zealot and weirdo. In the show’s defense, though, they do track down very respectable  citizens such as law enforcement officers and military personnel., which does add to the credibility, somewhat, with emphasis on the “somewhat.”  The “chasers” come across quite friendly and familiar with each other and when “in the field” they have a good rapport and seem very dedicated to their individual beliefs, but unfortunately, it’s just too ludicrous at times when we get to the actual chasing and science.

The set up for each episode is done capably (interviews, facts and confessionals) but then the night-time treks into places like the Everglades, swamps, forests, caves and woods (even a place in Brazil where aliens have been spotted roaming and living off the land.) are incredibly lame and uneventful. Where is the science? They seem to just be going out with all this expensive tech and camera gear and point at the sky at any light that passes by and freak out. They even walk around with a rig that sticks out from the shoulder and closes in on the faces. How about cameras that look out into the sky, instead? Duh. Ryder, on several occasions, has tripped, screamed, jumped and cursed at just about everything. One episode she almost has a stroke watching a vid in a van of a light in the sky that turns out to be some kind of reflection. It is always nothing. Nothing concrete or even remotely extraterrestrial. It’s quite laughable at times. The “data” is always inconclusive. Well, duh. The Three Stooges can gather data and chase UFOs better. I know, I’m being harsh, but I must be honest.

Chasing UFOs should just be called Chasing Lights in the Sky or Chasing Animals that Live in the Forest.  While investigating they also act like total buffoons. They trip over things, argue, get their jeeps stuck in mud and get lost in snake infested swamps. Actually these bits are what I like about the show. It’s frivolous, funny and a welcome diversion from the corny investigative side of the show. Ben is the skeptic and my favorite of the 3 . He’s down to earth and authentic while James is clearly the Fox Mulder of the show.  I respect his fervor though. He even gets visibly upset and cries after hearing a witness testimony. Ryder is appropriate eye candy but all of her foolishness (some of it very funny and dare I say endearing) and cursing detracts from the show. Hey but who cares? They are chasing UFOs!

So in closing, this show is just too unreal to really be of any serious merit. I get the feeling that sometimes it may even be a bit scripted. Even thought the banter between the three seems natural and the only thing that is worth watching. The investigations are trivial, boring and feel in no way credible. I have to mention one episode where they are supposedly chased by military agents in boats protecting the launch facility at Cape Canaveral. It was hilarious. You’d think it was some black ops force or Navy Seals hunting them down to protect some government conspiracy. This show had potential early on but while the cast is at times very serious about UFOs, it’s their actual cartoonish chasing that is pretty dead on arrival. Chase this show down at your own risk.

Victor