When it comes to the paranormal, television shows have taken a variety of approaches to the subject. Some attempt to make contact with departed loved ones ("Crossing Over With John Edward"), others try to confront and resolve conflict with restless spirits ("Paranormal State"), and still others check out allegedly haunted sites to confirm or debunk reports ("Ghost Hunters").
Executive producer Dimitri Doganis ("Locked Up Abroad") has a much simpler goal in mind with his "Paranormal Witness," a new series premiering Wednesday, Sept. 7, on Syfy: He just wants to scare the kernels right out of your popcorn.
Drawn from eyewitness accounts of seemingly inexplicable events, the new series uses an approach similar to the style of "Locked Up" to translate that first-person account into what Doganis calls "high-end drama sequences." (Whatever you do, don't call them "re-enactments." Doganis really hates that term.)
"It's been amazing taking the storytelling techniques that we have here and trying to adapt them to this new genre," Doganis says. "What we have done really is try to take these real people's stories and then treat them as 'scripts' for scenes that would work in horror films or gothic dramas, using the kinds of conventions and tropes and things that you would see in those films, because those films oftentimes have come out of real events that have then been beaten up into a Hollywood script. This is based on real people's testimony that we are able to dramatize in a very cinematic way."
And don't expect a warm, fuzzy story about dear, dead Nana appearing to tots to help them find a lost teddy bear. Most of the stories told here -- two per one-hour episode, in most cases -- are designed to make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
"I really am the most hard-bitten cynic you can imagine," Doganis says, "but with some of the things that happened to these people and are documented, there is no explanation for it in the terms that usually make sense of the world. It's been so much fun to work on, because the stories are so fantastic."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times