(Before I get going on this, I just want to say that I’m not including Supernatural in this particular piece because Supernatural is its own beast. And I do love me some Dean, Sam, and Castiel!)
But what put the topic of paranormal shows into my head is the new one on CBS. It’s called Evil and if you haven’t seen it, you really should. I mean REALLY should. It’s well-written, it’s spooky, it has a good cast, and the premise is the investigation of supernatural incidents. As CBS itself describes the first show, “Forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard is hired by the Catholic Church to work with David Acosta, a priest-in-training, and contractor Ben Shakir, to determine whether a serial killer is possessed by a demon or merely a psychopath. Kristen finds that she has a taste for the work and is invited to join the team on a permanent basis.” And it was excellent.
If you haven’t seen it, please do so right away.
But that’s just this year. The path to this kind of program was forged way back in the early days of television with shows like The Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, and Alcoa Presents. Later on in the sixties, ABC picked up a summer replacement series from England called Journey to the Unknown and it was fantastic. ABC also produced a series called The Sixth Sense in the early ‘70’s as well.
Fast forward to The X-Files. While I know it’s really famous for its motto “The Truth is Out There”, and while I know the mythology of the show was based on Mulder’s search for what happened to his sister and what-about-all-those-aliens, their stand-alone paranormal stories were truly frightening. I still remember the one about the Golem, or the one about the vengeful spirit that killed it’s victims by strangulation. From inside the victim’s neck. Their tales of apparitions, possessions, and demonic creatures were second to none and I loved every hair-raising minute of it.
But there were also some lesser-known, short-lived shows that explored the same area as the show Evil currently does. Do you even remember a series called Mysterious Ways? It ran from 2001 through 2002, and featured Adrian Pasdar and Rae Dawn Chong investigating strange and spiritual phenomena. I never missed an episode and was truly sorry when the show ended. Then there was Miracles, a show that popped up in 2003 and only lasted one season, which was a real pity, because this one was SCARY. It featured Skeet Ulrich and Angus Macfadyen, and I never missed an episode of that, either. In fact, I own the series on DVD and there were a couple of episodes that never had a chance to air. I don’t know why either of these two series were canceled so quickly. All I can say is that I am happy that the Fox network let The X-Files find its audience because when it did, its popularity was a phenomenon in its own right.
There were other little paranormal blips like Brimstone (Peter Horton) and Proof (Jennifer Beals and Matthew Modine), but nothing stuck like The X-Files, until Supernatural came along.
There always seems to be an audience for this type of show and I’m glad because I, for one, am always looking for this type of show! Of course, there are more alternatives to getting programs like this on the air, thanks to streaming services, and some of them have been amazing.
I may write ghost stories myself, but I’m always up for someone else’s tale. Thank you, CBS, for Evil!