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A skeptical critic looks at the visit of 'Paranormal Lockdown' to the Statler

I’m the wrong audience for “Paranormal Lockdown,” the TLC series that at 9 tonight investigates whether the Statler Hotel is haunted.

You have to be a believer to enjoy paranormal investigators Nick Groff (“Ghost Adventures”) and Katrina Weidman (“Paranormal State”)  as they use their technological gadgets to search for evidence that something funny is going on down on the corner of Delaware Avenue.

I’m a skeptic, which means all of Groff’s and Weidman’s looks of amazement and shouts of “amazing,” “wow” and “what the (expletive deleted) was that” didn’t move me as easily as a chair at the Statler was supposedly moved by itself.

Here’s a TLC description of the episode: “Nick and Katrina arrive in Buffalo at the 18-story Statler City Hotel – the largest building they’ve ever investigated. The former ‘Grand Dame of Buffalo’ once played host to presidents, jazz legends, and the upper crust, but the secrets buried in its seedy underbelly by notorious mobsters are dying to get out.

After wedding guests were horrified when an apparition appeared in a photograph, Nick and Katrina pursue the link between the glamorous Terrace Room and the decrepit Turkish Bath directly below it. But their state-of-the-art equipment soon reveals a story kept silent within the hotel's walls for decades.”

I did enjoy some brief early history of the luxury hotel provided by the co-hosts and ghost-tour docent Conor Hawkins. The presidents who went by initials, JFK and FDR, were once there. Mobster Al Capone enjoyed the hotel. A woman mysteriously dropped out of the eighth floor in 1947.

And I also enjoyed seeing something from the beautiful outdoor shots of Buffalo that I haven’t seen in days. What is that, again? Oh, the sun.

But I could have learned much more about the Statler from a recent online posting of the Buffalo News.

Otherwise, the 72 hours that Groff and Weidman spent in search of conversations with ghosts made the hour program seem to last 72 hours to me.

The conversation the co-hosts have with each other isn’t exactly “X-Files” material.

“It is so creepy in here,” said Katrina.

“There is so much energy in this place,” said Groff.

At one point, the co-hosts heard someone in “a clear whisper” say “I am stuck.” At another time, they heard “I am in the drum." And at another point, they asked a ghost to knock three times if he or she wanted them to leave.

If I had that option, I would have been gone in 15 minutes.

[A Closer Look: Statler City]

Spoiler alert: They concluded the place is haunted and there “is something very active in this hotel.”

I’m sure you aren’t shocked. There wouldn’t have been much of a program if the Statler hadn’t been haunted.

My skepticism grew when Groff and Weidman used all the information they gathered to piece together a narrative and solve a mystery they pretty much invented.

Spoiler alert: The Mafia is involved.

It was like watching an episode of my favorite Friday night, “Blue Bloods,” which always wraps all the plot lines in a neat bow.

The scariest thing in the hour comes at the end.

Ohmygod. Groff and Weidman apparently didn’t have enough time to see and hear everything in the 950,000 square foot building and they are hoping – or should I say threatening – to come back and perhaps do another episode.

I’d rather try to sleep in the Statler's empty Turkish bath than watch any sequel. But that’s me. Enjoy.


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