After watching episode 1 of Mystery Map on ITV, even as a fan of mysteries and the paranormal, I have to say the show was very disappointing and in a number of ways.
Firstly the show manages to cover half a dozen or more ‘mysteries’ in less than an hour, often giving barely a few minutes coverage to some cases. I’d have found MM far more interesting and worthwhile if ITV had simply picked the two best stories and investigated them more in depth. The Rendlesham Forest UFO case in particular, clearly warranted more physical investigative work. If the UFO was just really a lighthouse, then recreate that scenario to prove the military were mistaken.
An earlier look at The Hampton Court Ghost CCTV video footage:
The problem is there was very little true detective work going on. It felt like the shows producers had just researched and read other teams earlier investigations online, then simply sent Ben and Julia to retrace their footsteps.
Co-host Julia Bradbury came across as the particularly cynical one, giving the impression she’d already seen all the evidence disproving the accounts before filming even began. Not giving viewers an opportunity to believe for a few minutes, even if they wanted to. If a story is so obviously fake right from the start, then why bother covering it at all? ITV may as well have gotten Professor Brian Cox to present the series, for all the open-mindedness that was shown. Though based on Episode 1 of Mystery Map, hiring the Prof would have totally blown the series small budget.
Finally, some of the mysteries which were based on anecdotal evidence were simply dismissed by more anecdotes and opinions, rather than solid facts. Sometimes the skeptics explanations end up more far fetched than the original paranormal account.
So overall, Mystery Map lacked any of the suspense and drama required to be a truly entertaining paranormal investigation. Plus from a purely informative point of view, most of the ‘mysteries’ never needed solving in the first place.
Episode 2 was basically more of the same, with the skeptic always getting the final word. At no time watching the show did I think a story would be concluded as best explainable by paranormal activity. You know each case will ultimately get dismissed in one way or another before the presenters even begin. For the kids sake, let’s be thankful Julia won’t be travelling to Lapland this December for a Mystery Map Christmas special.
On the positive side, I applaud ITV for at least bringing this genre of programming to prime-time British television. But for this type of show to work, you need one presenter who’s willing to open their mind and fight their corner for the believers. Even if they risk looking a bit daft. Granted many of the cases covered were pretty hard to stick up for, but others were just passed off way to easily.