Friday, November 19, 2010

FACT OR FAKED: Mystery Mermaid; Ghostly Guardian

SyFy - Original Air Date: 11/18/10

As usual, we start with videos of cases that won't be researched this week.  Dash Cam Ghost looks like a misty figure walking across the road, supposedly caught on a police dash cam.  They want to authenticate it, but it looks like a reflection from a side window to me.  Hawaiian UFO shows 3 lights moving through a Hawaii sunset. Bill says the film was created by Blake Cousins, who has done a number of paranormal videos, and this is just another of his CGI jobs. The Lake Erie Lights were filmed in March 2010 by Eugene Erlich (sp?); they move very strangely in the sky, but the group decides to wait until there are more confirmed sightings.  Which leaves the two cases they are investigating this week: Ghost Guardian features a set of pictures where, over a course of many years, strange blurs appear in pictures of a girl as she grows up.  She's 16 now, and the family thinks the blur is her spirit guardian.  They've supposedly ruled out camera straps.  The Mermaid was filmed off the Great Barrier reef by a photographer who didn't realize what it looked like until he got the film home, and, boy, it does look like a mermaid tail swimming away -- and not like any sea animal I'm familiar with.  (And I'm a sea creature buff.)  So, it's either a fake, or... an excuse to film Jael in a mermaid costume.

I might ask a local fish expert first, but the group quickly flies to Australia, dons their wet suits, and Jael and Ben -- both certified divers -- get wet while Austin mans the sonar.  Quickly, they spot something on sonar, but it's just a shark, and not a match for the video.  Could it be a sea cow (dugong)?  I've seen manatees in the wild from a distance of a few feet, so I know even before the team does that this is not what's on the video - though the dugong does have a mermaid-like fluke.  Next up, Jael in a mermaid suit (thank you, producers), and she looks pretty good -- as a mermaid, I mean -- and maybe with a better costume....  So, they find a professional mermaid named Hannah down under with a better costume and years of experience -- and she's a nearly exact match.  They declare the video a hoax, and Ben even has a CGI recreation of what a real mermaid might look like.  She's a blubbery, hairless creature, that looks nothing like the mythical beauty, or even my own Umira.  Pretty funny finish to this fish story.

In Hawaii, the team talks to the grandmother who takes the mysterious pictures.  The woman claims her granddaughter has seen this "guardian angel," and the girl says she has a sense of being watched at night.  She gives Chi-Lan permission to interview her (with identity hidden) and take pictures.  They set up a film processing lab on site and develop their pictures.  They see nothing remarkable in their first shots, so they decide to try and replicate the effects they see on the ghost pictures.  They set up a dummy as a model and try shooting with a camera strap dangling in front of the lens; it looks fairly close, but doesn't have the right texture.  (Maybe the wrong strap?)  Next, they test climate effects on film, but it doesn't look anything like the "spirit."  So, they try a more elaborate hoax using reflections (which, for some reason, they call holograms), but that seems too elaborate for these people.  Again, an interesting result, but not quite right.  Sadly, this kind of investigation would not be complete without some "ghost hunting," so the lights go out and all the usual pseud-science poking around happens. Larry hears a strange noise on the walkie-talkie, but it sounds like interference to me (and Chi-Lan).  So, they do the expected EVP session, which gives us another strange electronic noise -- which sounds a little, once they point it out, like "I'm watching you right now."  Despite this, the group agrees that the "spirit" on the film is likely a camera strap or other lens interference.  (Which is my conclusion as well.)  Unfortunately, we get an end-of-show sop to the believers that what they've found doesn't rule out some other paranormal activity in the home.

So, again, the team gives us two good explanations -- a trend I'm liking in this series -- despite the nod to what may be the series main audience (true believers) in the closing moment.

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