David Carradine talks about the hereafter in the premiere of “Celebrity Ghost Stories,” a silly reality show the Bio Channel had the good fortune to tape four months before the actor’s death. Joan Rivers, Scott Baio and Teri Polo are the other featured luminaries in the opening hour, which uses dramatic recreations and eerie music to illustrate what’s otherwise merely actors reminiscing about so-called paranormal experiences. On the scale of embarrassing celebrity-themed programs, this one probably ranks somewhere above “Celebrity Fit Club” and below “Celebrity Rehab.”
Carradine’s experience — he began shacking up with a widow in her house, and her late husband’s spirit supposedly acted up — closes out the hour. “I am really spooked right now,” he says, after recounting what he believes transpired. It’s all very spacey and weird, including the meta quality of seeing a dead guy discuss his belief in an afterlife — which he’s gaining, in a sense, thanks to the show.
The hour kicks off with Rivers recalling a haunted apartment she inhabited in New York. Her story is the most believable, since it appears she’s been so terrified as to be unable to move her cheeks.
Teri Polo goes all the way back to a childhood experience, while Baio’s story involves the death of his father. One either believes this sort of thing or not (and a lot of people do), but having actors do it — augmented with staged sequences that create work for younger stand-ins — brings extra theatricality to the carnival tent.
The eclectic list of celebrity gh-gh-ghost storytellers — with some careers closer to the Great Beyond than others — includes Tom Arnold, Justine Bateman, Morgan Fairchild, Carrie Fisher, Gina Gershon, Sammy Hagar, C. Thomas Howell, Traci Lords, Rue McClanahan, Lisa Rinna, John Waters, and — wait for it — “Ghostbusters” co-star Ernie Hudson.
The tone is completely earnest, without a trace of skepticism. Rivers’ story features a sort-of exorcism by a voodoo priestess, which, she says, was “like something out of a bad movie.”
Bingo. Only cheaper.