We’ve all seen Ghost Hunters, Dead Files, and Finding Bigfoot, but for the handful of long-running series featuring paranormal investigators hunting monsters on television, there’s hundreds of great paranormal reality concepts that, for one reason or another, just don’t make it to air.
In order to sell a show to a network, production companies need to demonstrate their concept. Some of them are able to sell a series based simply on the strength of the material, a great track record of highly rated shows, or with the stars attached, but most of the time, they drop some cash and produce a sizzle reel. Usually clocking in at around five to ten minutes, these sizzle reels are essentially mini episodes designed to introduce the characters and concept in a way that really, well, sizzles.
Back in the day, sizzle reels for shows that weren’t picked up would be tossed in a stack and forgotten, but thanks to the internet, thousands of these reels are available for those who know where to look. In most cases, there’s a pretty obvious reason why the shows weren’t picked up, but once in awhile, you come across something that makes you wonder how a network passed.
From paranormal treasure hunts to cryptozoological cold cases, these are five supernatural reality shows that we would have watched the shit out of, but never got the green light.
“We don’t take shit from anybody, alive or dead.”
Ghost Hunters gave us the “every-man” paranormal show, Deep South Paranormal gave us the “good ‘ol boy” series, and Ghost Brothers gave us the “black” ghost hunting show, but there’s one demographic that has never been gifted with its own supernatural series: the Italian mob.
Ghostfellas would have followed the paranormal investigations of Bill Jr, Billy III, Jason, and Bruce – otherwise known as Wiseguys Paranormal – as they deal with “aggravated hauntings” in the South Philly area. Their home base is the Blue Suede Saloon, an Elvis-themed bar owned by Bruce, they drive a Cadillac Eldorado to investigations, and they’ve got a thing for gold jewelry and the f-bomb.
The only tweak that could have made this concept better, is if the Ghostfellas were exclusively hunting mob-related spirits.
Seriously, how did this show not get made?
“Monsters make us hot.”
Of all the potential shows on this list, Monster Brothers is the one that I wanted to see the most. The series would have followed the adventures of Ryan and Josh, with help from Mom, Dad, and Cousin Smalls, as they chased down cryptozoological creatures all over the world by employing crazy, home-made contraptions.
What makes this sizzle so great is that while there’s some tense moments in search of the the Great New England Sea Serpent, the titular Monster Brothers are actually allowed to have fun with an inherently fun subject, and the result is a humorous take on the monster hunting formula. This show would have a filled a huge gap in world of paranormal television shows that have a tendency to take themselves a little too seriously.
Love what you saw? Check out the full pilot episode in four parts over on their YouTube page.
Monster Brothers was so well-received by industry insiders that it won “Best Non-Scripted Pilot” at the New York Television Festival, so its lack of a green light is as big a mystery as Bigfoot.
Just because the show never made it to air doesn’t mean the Monster Brothers have stopped tracking mysterious beasts. You might remember Ryan – AKA RPG – as a member of the Supernatural Bigfoot Crew on the special two-hour episode of Finding Bigfoot dedicated to paranormal Sasquatch encounters.
“It’s kind of like a paranormal treasure hunt.”
You ever drive by a house and get a gut feeling that just screams “this place is haunted”? Drive-By Paranormal takes that feeling and turns it into a ghost hunting technique. Think American Pickers meets Ghost Hunters.
The series would have followed paranormal investigators Jeff Kimball and Chris Loveday as they drive around the country revealing the hidden history all around us by knocking on doors – and getting more than a few slammed in their faces.
While the sizzle doesn’t show much in the way of a story, the concept is cool enough to hold its own. The “never know what you’ll find” element adds a neat twist to the genre that could have made for a fun show regardless of whether Jeff and Chris discovered any activity or not.
There’s a show in the UK that follows a kinda-sorta-similar approach, starring Most Haunted‘s Derek Acorah.
Ghost Towns follows the over-the-top psychic medium as he rolls into different communities with his team of investigators, using his talents to sniff out the most haunted houses in town.
“What’s more frightening? The monster.. or the history behind it?”
Bigfoot gets all the love these days. That might have something to do with the fact that a giant walking primate is easier to believe than a Chupacabra or a Mothman, but as anyone who researchers cryptozoological cases knows, the truth is often stranger than fiction.
Cold Case Cryptids would have followed Rob, Max, Melissa, and even famed Sasquatch researcher Dr. Jeff Meldrum as they dove into larger-than-life monster sightings from century-old newspaper reports and aimed to solve them once and for all, often with surprising results.
The cool thing about Cold Case Cryptids is that they aren’t afraid to say that some monsters aren’t real, but that doesn’t make their stories any less interesting. Their sizzle does a great job of demonstrating this by showing how Mississippi’s Meadville Monster was more than likely just a way to scare post-Civil War slaves from leaving their plantations.
“Would you buy a house with ghosts in it just to get a discount?”
Transactional shows are all the rage right now. From Pawn Stars to Storage Wars to American Pickers, television viewers just love to watch people haggle over stuff. They also love watching people investigate ghosts, so it’s kind of shocking that the two genres haven’t been combined. Haunted House for Sale scratches that itch.
The series would have followed a new family each week as they sought to purchase a home for well under market value. The only catch? These houses are haunted.
In each episode, “Ghost Appraisers” investigate the homes being sold in order to establish just how haunted they are. The scarier the ghosts, the better deal the buyers can argue for. At the climax of each episode, the buyer strikes a deal or walks – sometimes because the haunting is worse than they bargained for.
Whoever passed on this series is straight up insane.
Bonus points for the producers using the Roky Erickson tune “If You Have Ghosts” in the sizzle.
These sizzle reels are just a handful of the great paranormal reality concepts that we think would have killed it if they’d landed on television, and if you go digging through Vimeo, you’ll find even more. When you think about it, watching these reels is kind of like getting a glimpse into television from an alternate universe.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a chance that we might see them on the airwaves someday. Ghost Adventures took years before it went from being a one-off documentary to being the top-rated show on Travel Channel. Sometimes they just need a little time to simmer.
Here’s hoping a network executive out there sees this list and gives something like Monster Brothers or Ghostfellas a second look. We’re ready to watch.