Now we know what Fox Mulder would have done after leaving “The X-Files” unit: Get his own reality-TV show! In “Fact or Faked: The Paranormal Files,” former FBI agent Ben Hansen leads one of those crack teams inexplicably blessed with money and time to burn, meticulously investigating unexplained phenomena to determine their authenticity. The proliferation of such “Mythbusters”/”Ghost Hunters”-type fare is such that one participant, Jael De Pardo, is actually an alum of Syfy’s similar “Destination Truth.” With apologies to truth-seekers, “Destination Commerce” is more like it.
Tackling two “cases” in each hour, the premiere opens with a “TMZ”-like war room where Hansen and his colleagues (in addition to journalist De Pardo, a scientist, effects specialist, and stunt and photography experts) debate what stories to explore. Their criteria — compelling video and a credible witness — serve the purpose of demonstrating they won’t go chasing after just anything that’s posted online.
After that, the team splits up to look into UFO sightings in Arizona and a so-called “ghost car” that eluded a local cop in New York. The group sounds intent on debunking video as the opposite of fact, if not exactly faked, but they also seem awfully impressed by material of somewhat dubious value.
Mostly, the balance of the hour devolves into gear-head TV, with elaborate “experiments” designed to prove whether the video can be replicated by other means. It’s here that the program bogs down a bit, forcing the music to work overtime in an effort to foster suspense.
To be fair, “Paranormal Files” — part of Syfy’s new Thursday sort-of-reality lineup — does hold one’s attention, but the primary mystery the program resolves has less to do with “unknown energy anomalies” or “strange creature sightings” than it does in answering what a shrewd FBI agent ought to do after leaving the bureau.
Private security, clearly, is for saps. Like Hansen, rather, they should find themselves another kind of agent — one who wears expensive suits and patrols the 310 area code — and then hit the pitch-meeting circuit.