The psychics of Sensing Murder are stuck in the realm of the hopelessly vague

by Diana Wichtel / 20 August, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - Sensing Murder psychics

Deb Webber: stating the yawningly obvious.

You've got to give it to Sensing Murder, never has a show spun out so little content into hours of complete crap.

Okay, I can almost understand the desire to contact the dead. Death is so final. There are always questions. There is often guilt. For the unreligious among us, there is no prospect of a reunion in the afterlife. No unicorns, no rainbows. And who doesn’t retain some of the primitive hard wiring that gives rise to irrational superstitions? Do not put your umbrella up inside my house. The thought of consulting a psychic has its appeal.

That must be why the otherwise inexplicably batty Sensing Murder keeps turning up, like a spirit that won’t rest until it finds someone to talk to on prime-time television. And credit where credit is due. Never has a show spun out so little content into hours of complete crap. Unlike other mad reality formats, no one builds a house, eats a bug or learns to do the paso doble. Nothing really happens. It is, in a way, a marvel.

The first case sought to solve the 1996 murder of New Zealand hairdresser Paula Brown after a night out. The show immediately raised a metaphysical question that has defied theologians and philosophers down the ages. If those who have passed over to “spirit side” are so keen for a chat, how come they have so little of any use to say? You would get more sense out of your pet budgerigar, dead or alive. Still, one thing that’s not misleading is the show’s title. The three psychics on the job this season had no trouble sensing that there had been a murder: “She tells me that she was attacked”; “She was too weak to defend him off!”; “She was wanting to survive.” Uncanny.

It was sensing anything else beyond this sort of yawningly obvious revelation  –  “She wanted to get home from where she’d been and she didn’t get there”  –  that was the problem. Never mind. To fill in the time between not finding out anything, events leading up to the crime are endlessly trawled – the stuff that anyone who can read a newspaper already knows: “Her love of partying concerned her family and friends.”

And this is probably what gives comfort to the families who agree to these shows. Your loved one is remembered, even if only in dodgy reconstructions.

Of course, there are reasons psychics are trapped, as in some particularly frustrating circle of Hell, in the realms of the hopelessly vague. John Edward, an American celebrity psychic who has been called the “Oprah of the afterlife”, once appeared on, yes, Oprah to clarify the situation. “We are all just energies vibrating frequencies,” he explained. Of course. “Frequencies” can be a little imprecise. Oprah is not a sceptical woman. She believes in “The Secret”, which maintains that the universe owes you a BMW if you vibrate correctly. Even she had doubts. “Okay, so where are these people you’re talking to?” she wondered. “It’s like, where is the internet?” Edward replied airily. Those inadequate answers from the other side? “They’ve got to lower their frequencies and it takes a lot of energy.”

By halfway through Sensing Murder, my frequency was bottoming out. If proof was needed that TV psychics couldn’t find a pub in Australia, here it was. “There must have been somewhere she was drinking here but I can’t see where,” fretted Deb Webber as she was driven around the location where Paula Brown spent her last evening.

Still, this wasn’t just two hours of my life I’ll never get back. The show is a kind of public service to those tempted to consult a medium. After watching three psychics and a private detective fail to turn up anything of significance, the message from spirit side was, for once, loud and clear: save your money.

Sensing Murder, TVNZ 2, Thursday, 8.30pm, and TVNZ On Demand.

This article was first published in the May 26, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

The death of Radio Live
99147 2018-11-16 06:54:48Z Radio

The death of Radio Live

by Colin Peacock

14 years after launching “the new voice of talk radio”, MediaWorks will silence Radio Live. Mediawatch looks at what could replace it.

Read more
Should Lime scooters stay or should they go?
99103 2018-11-16 00:00:00Z Social issues

Should Lime scooters stay or should they go?

by The Listener

For every safety warning, there’ll be a righteous uproar about the public good regarding the environment. It's about finding the right balance.

Read more
Kiwi drama Vermilion is hamstrung by a frustrating lack of clarity
98992 2018-11-16 00:00:00Z Movies

Kiwi drama Vermilion is hamstrung by a frustrating…

by James Robins

Academic and film-maker Dorthe Scheffmann has had a hand in some of New Zealand cinema’s most beloved movies. So what went wrong?

Read more
Win the 100 Best Books of 2018
99119 2018-11-16 00:00:00Z Win

Win the 100 Best Books of 2018

by The Listener

Each year, the Listener offers one lucky subscriber the chance to win all 100 of our Best Books.

Read more
Full of light and art, Forestry Cafe is south-east Auckland's newest coffee spot
99142 2018-11-15 16:49:34Z Auckland Eats

Full of light and art, Forestry Cafe is south-east…

by Alex Blackwood

New opening Forestry Cafe brings a city vibe to Flat Bush.

Read more
Turning a corner: Why this wayward Auckland teen stayed in school
99114 2018-11-15 10:34:07Z Social issues

Turning a corner: Why this wayward Auckland teen s…

by Vomle Springford

When Acer Ah Chee-Wilson was 14, he wanted to be in a gang.

Read more
What Kate Sheppard said that changed the course of New Zealand politics forever
99084 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Politics

What Kate Sheppard said that changed the course of…

by Noted

Helen Clark and even Meghan Markle have quoted Kate Sheppard – what did she say that was so powerful?

Read more
Why Bret McKenzie is going straight with a new band
99026 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Profiles

Why Bret McKenzie is going straight with a new ban…

by Russell Baillie

After a year of stadium comedy and Muppet shows, Bret McKenzie talks about returning to his music roots in a band whose songs are no laughing matter.

Read more