America’s favorite ghost-hunting plumbers are back to flush out more phantoms in Season 5 of SCI FI Channel’s hit series Ghost Hunters, beginning this Wednesday (March 11) at 9pm ET/PT. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who head up The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) team, explain that this season will see a return to a lot of residential cases in addition to continued explorations of the higher-profile historical sites. This plan is evidenced right away in the premiere episode, a two-investigation show in which the team travels to Pennsylvania to visit a terrified family just outside of Philadelphia, and then into Philly itself to check out the historic home of Betsy Ross. (Note: this preview is from an advance screener provided by the network; at airtime the investigation order was changed.)
INVESTIGATION 1: HANNUM HOUSE
In the first half of the episode, the team goes to Glen Mills, PA, and to the 313-year-old Hannum House, one of the oldest homes in America. It’s a place that over the centuries has been used for wide-ranging and disparate purposes, from a church and a courthouse, to a brothel and a tavern. It wasn’t used as a private residence much until the last century, and in fact has only been owned by six families in its long history.
Currently the 18-room home is owned by Kim and Eric, who have brought in TAPS because they, their 6-year-old daughter Emma, and Jennifer — a tenant in the attached apartment — have been frightened by some mysterious sights and sounds. Apparently this has been going on since the day they moved in eight-and-a-half years ago, when Kim saw a figure in Colonial war attire walking down the stairs (how’s that for a housewarming surprise?). On another occasion, Kim saw a white mist appear in the living room. Both Kim and Eric have heard footsteps and seen figures in their bedroom, and Emma has also heard people in her room. One night, Kim and Eric heard steps in the hall and heard a young girl’s voice calling out, “Mommy.” Thinking it was their daughter, Eric went out, but found no one, and discovered Emma fast asleep in her room. In another weird encounter, Jennifer was over for a picnic and went into the basement to get something out of the freezer, when she felt an eerie chill. Now, getting a chill from a freezer isn’t too paranormal, but when she turned around there were the figures of two men behind her. Previous tenants also said they had heard the child’s bed they kept in the attic moving around when no one was up there.
Jason and Grant decide to look into this case ASAP, since a child is involved. After getting the lowdown on the family’s experiences, TAPS begins its investigation, with Jason and Grant checking out the basement, master bedroom and Emma’s room, which seems to be a focus of activity. Amy and Kris get stuck visiting the creepy attic, where they find a hidden door into another room, and Steve and Dave handle the downstairs, including the living room and kitchen. Both Amy and Grant have separate physical experiences, and some interesting audio evidence is collected by the team. Some of the sounds, including what may be footsteps, can also be heard by viewers on the broadcast.
INVESTIGATION 2: BETSY ROSS HOUSE
The second half of the hourlong season premiere has the team in the very old city of Philadelphia, called in to investigate the home of famed seamstress Betsy Ross, who hasn’t left physically — her remains are buried on the grounds — and perhaps not spiritually, either. The team meets up with Lisa, director of the house (now a museum) and its adjoining gift shop, both of which have been sites of activity. Lisa indicates that her office tends to be one of the spookier areas, at least based on past reports. While Lisa herself has not encountered anything there, she says that her predecessor felt a hand clasp her shoulder while working alone late one night, and that woman’s predecessor had such a terrifying experience that she climbed out the office window and onto a flagpole. A tour guide has seen dark shadows in the room where it is believed Ross actually made the first American flag. Voices have been heard throughout the buildings, and the sounds of boxes being moved upstairs in the gift shop have been reported.
The building’s history includes more than just that of Ross and her life. The museum’s founder lived in the place from 1898 until he died of a stroke on the premises at age 76. In 1980, in the gift shop basement, two security guards had a fight that resulted in one shooting the other and leaving him overnight to die. On occasion, men’s voices have still been reported down there.
When the investigation gets underway, Jason and Grant take the first shift in the Ross House and Lisa’s office. In the office they hear some mysterious sounds, which are hard to pick up on the broadcast. Amy and Kris go into the gift shop basement, site of the shooting, and try to pick up some EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). Dave and Steve later visit the room where Ross sewed the flag and try to piss her off enough to show herself by rearranging her furniture. Jason and Grant then go to check out the gift shop basement for themselves, and here they encounter high EMF (electromagnetic field) readings and some creepy sounds, which can be heard on the broadcast if you listen carefully.
All in all this episode of Ghost Hunters is not one of the more frightening installments (I still find the investigation of the Stanley Hotel to be the scariest). Having two investigations put into one episode feels somewhat cramped and rushed. Perhaps that is because not enough activity was encountered in either case to warrant extending each into its own hourlong episode. At least it does make sense thematically to put these two geographically close locales together in a 2-for-1 deal. According to Grant, the decision to put two hunts into one episode is made by the editors, but we will be seeing several hourlong investigations at certain locations this season. One thing that continues to stand out through this episode, as in the rest of the series, is the excellent use of night vision cameras and the fact that you can almost always hear or see at least some of the evidence that TAPS does, whether it’s paranormal or not. The show also keeps offering fascinating locations, and the genial nature of the team and their genuine interest in helping the frightened people in those places allows Ghost Hunters to remain the premier show in this increasingly overcrowded genre.
What did you think of the season premiere? Let us know!
And stay tuned here for discussion with Jason and Grant about Season 5, the new locations, the reportedly haunted inn they just bought, and more!
Gavin Bond/SCI FI Channel