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Supernatural Spinoff Ghostfacers Brings Funny, Lacks Freshness

[show=ghostfacers size=large]Watching Ghostfacers, a new WB TV (s WB) series spun off from the long-running supernatural series Supernatural, I am struck, once again, by a yearning for a time machine. This parody of docu-soap reality shows like Ghost Hunters is well-made and well-written. It also feels painfully behind the times.

The episode of Supernatural that introduced Ed (A.J. Buckley), Harry (Travis Wester) and Maggie (Brittany Ishibashi) as amateur ghost hunters seeking to achieve reality TV fame by documenting their exploits aired originally in 2008. And if this show had been produced for the web back then I’d be a huge fan of it — both as a fresh and funny spin on the supernatural world as well as an exciting new example of a network series giving a one-off idea a chance to grow online.

Unfortunately, by waiting so long to capitalize on the idea’s potential, Ghostfacers now suffers. Creating a spinoff series around tertiary characters is old news in 2010, after all, not to mention the fact that Ghost Hunters parodies have been done. There’s no way to discuss Ghostfacers without bringing up the Babelgum-produced The Occulterers — especially when it comes to parallels between that show’s Chelsea (Amy Klein) and Ghostfacers‘s Ambyr (Mircea Monroe), a hot new intern who’s thoroughly objectivifed by Ed, Harry and the camera. Ambyr’s bimbo-ness is at least an interesting source of conflict on the show, but her storyline is a big blow towards the series’ chances at originality.

Of course, here’s where great production value and writing pay off — I enjoyed the first three episodes of Ghostfacers provided for review a whole lot more than Occulterers. Some interesting plot developments are laid out and there are some genuine scares as well as laughs; I have to admit to being thoroughly amused by the post-modern opening of the first episode.

According to a Warner Bros. spokesperson, Ghostfacers‘s launch has been timed to tie into promotion for its parent series’ 100th episode. But that reminds me of one of the most important things about Ghostfacers: Being a Supernatural fan is not at all required to enjoy it. Trust me on that one.

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