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17 Jan 2013




Review: 'Ghost Mine' stirs up some spookiness


I’m a sucker for ghost-hunting shows, so when I got my screener for “Ghost Mine,” I had to watch it despite what I thought could be another run-of-the-mill entry in the genre. It premieres at 10 tonight on Syfy after the mid-season premiere of “Ghost Hunters.”

And while it certainly doesn’t take paranormal investigation to new heights, it turned out to be nicely different than I was expecting.

There are two main differences: First, this is a six-episode show that spends all its time at one location, the Crescent Mine in Sumpter, Ore. It’s an abandoned gold mine, supposedly haunted in a major way but also supposedly still rich in precious metals. Second, it’s part ghost show, part mining reality show as it’s a working mine that just happens to get investigated.

The mine’s new owner, Larry Overman, has already lost one full crew to ghosts, so he brings in Patrick Doyle and Kristen Luman to find out what’s happening as his foreman breaks in a new team of seasoned and newbie miners. But according to the show, miners are a superstitious lot. They’re always on the lookout for tommyknockers (ghosts), and the veterans don’t take well to the investigators stirring things up, especially since one of them is a red-headed woman (a double no-no in mining, apparently).

When one tommyknocker warns of a cave-in, and said cave-in happens, it rattles the guys. The investigators suspect that prepping the mine with explosions and testing could release more paranormal energy that had been absorbed in the past in the mine’s veins of quartz.

Not much happens in the first episode; it’s mostly set-up for both crews. But you can see the tensions rising as Doyle and Luman try to limit their investigations to the miners’ downtime and aren’t always able to accommodate. They do get a couple EVPs (I don’t know if it was the sound on the test disc, but I didn’t hear anything close to what they said they heard on playback) and a creepy shadow figure passing through a laser grid.

As with most reality shows, many of the parts that are supposed to be spontaneous feel staged and/or rehearsed. How can you be surprised to run into someone when you both have full camera crews with lights and equipment? But the miners seem genuine — many down on their luck and victims of long-term unemployment. They’re ready to give this mine a shot, ghosts or no, with the promise of a cut of the profits from the gold (and, I would think, a fee from the show’s producers).

But promising footage from the opening and the tweaks to the formula are enough to keep me watching. I recommend other ghost-hunt fans do, too.

Eric Henrickson is a Detroit News copy editor who has also been writing about comic books, video games and anime for The News for more than 10 years. His favorite bit of geek cred so far: appearing in an online "Star Trek" fan series.

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