Ghost Whispererer and Haunted on the telly 

So here’s how the television show The Ghost Whispererer goes:

1) Ooky spooky music box theme tune with “Sowing the Seeds of Love”-style “eerie” animation involving Jennifer Love Hewitt RIPPING HER OWN HEAD IN HALFin a Victorian scrapbook style which calls to mind Terry Gilliam’s overexposed early Monty Python nonsense.

2) Jenny Love Hewitt enjoying delightful classic American small-town bliss (incl. heavy hintage at distinctly vanilla rumpo) with a hunk o’husband who could’ve inherited Business Big Shot status but chucked it in to be a paramedic. ALL MAN. She runs an antique shop where they make a little money even though they sell NOWT but then blow it all on milky coffee.
(JLH mode (1) : all scrubbed-up and smiley.)

3) JLH encounters miserable / lost / troublesome spirit who has failed to pass over to the unspecified other side due to (yawn) unfinished bizniss on this questionably mortal coil. Jenny can see ghosts, you see, and no-one else can. JLH struggles manfully with her gift for about 10 seconds and wishes she didn’t have to help this poor soul. Then the ghost gets pleady or threateny and she agrees that she has to help.
(JLH mode (2): scared: as per (1) except less smiley, mouth held slightly open).

4) JLH in full Social Worker to the Spectral Community mode. She’s visiting the living relatives – she wants to help them but they’re all suspicious. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS YOU’RE TRYING TO SELL LADY BUT I’M NOT BUYIN’. NOW LEAVE US ALONE.” Slam. She’s looking back through the papers to find out what misfortune befell her insubstantial mate. JLH is then subjected to a little more spookery just so she knows that abandoning the case is not an option, unless she wants ongoing ghostly botheration up to and including the lights flickering on and off.
(JLH mode(3): determined: as per 1 but eyes slightly narrowed)

5) Hostile Living Relative suddenly realises that JLH is telling the real actual truth (often through the proffering of some small unknowably meaningful token) and heart-to heart with deado ensues (amanuensis: sensitive Jenny). Any remaining earthbound wrongs righted in this sequence (e.g. treasure found; correct ownership of disputed tract of land resolved; parental love reconfirmed). Deado spots “the light”, dons beatific grin and legs it to eternity, out of shot. “Are they gone?” “Yes.” “Sniffles.” 
(JLH mode (4): caring: as per (1) but with head slightly tilted to one side).

6) THE END (sometimes add mysterious and thus-far meaningless sinister laughing ghouly spectre thing which puts the wind up JLH something chronic but never seems to turn up in the next show).
(JLH mode: (2), again)

The television show Haunted is EXACTLY THE SAME except for the following:

1) Nu-metal theme tune with trainer ad graphics on the title sequence

2) Main character is a mixed-up mound of muscly man with(out) a kidnapped son, whose cop career hit the skids* after the nasty baddies took his boy away.

3) More urban, more booze, more violence, greater possibility of insubstantial spectral sexing, less family values.

4) Greater possibility of using phantom intelligence to SHOP the BADDIES (as against Jenny who runs a one-woman FCAB (Former Citizens Advice Bureau)).

5) Matthew Fox out of Party of Five has fewer modes than Jenny, mostly he restricts himself to broody.

It’s tempting to ascribe each one of these differences to pure demographic targeting: Haunted plainly aims at being the ghost series of choice for discerning members of the Coke Zero generation (i.e. men, 15-29 or thereabouts), TGW is just as clearly for GURLERS. Except, except: if “Haunted” was going to be all about the young BLERKS, wouldn’t the obvious choice have been an enormous GHOST GUN with which any troublesome spirits could be blasted even further into the hereafter?

In both of these shows the haunters are always in need of the help. Even when they initially present as threatening poltergeistish nasties, it turns out all they need is a little tenderness. Who’d have thought? It’s the hauntees (some might say the victims) who have to change, to understand what’s gone wrong, to put things right. Justice, in both of these shows, is a gentle force but requires someone with the SPECIAL SIGHT to see the backstory and, er, try a little kindness to overlook the blindness. It’s all very hug-a-hoodie, even if the hood in question may have been applied by a real actual fictional executioner.
*I hope Richard Jobson isn’t still googling himself. Hello Richard!