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

Why ethical eating often stops at the restaurant door
101520 2019-01-22 00:00:00Z Food

Why ethical eating often stops at the restaurant d…

by Rachel A. Ankeny and Heather Bray

Can a chef promote foraging, seasonality and plant-based eating, yet also serve meat and other animal-derived protein products on the same menu?

Read more
Why the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery is bound to attract the curious
101463 2019-01-22 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Why the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery is bound…

by Ellen Rykers

Artist Bruce Mahalski's museum is the result of a lifetime of collecting.

Read more
Gillette ad isn't anti-men, it's anti-toxic masculinity – it should be welcomed
101480 2019-01-21 16:59:29Z Social issues

Gillette ad isn't anti-men, it's anti-toxic mascul…

by Nicola Bishop

The backlash against the Gillette ad shows how painfully little distance we as a society have covered since the #MeToo movement.

Read more
Cost of Auckland public transport to go up
101459 2019-01-21 14:08:56Z Auckland Issues

Cost of Auckland public transport to go up

by RNZ

Auckland's public transport users will soon see fares increase by up to 50 cents.

Read more
The future of gangs in New Zealand
101322 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

The future of gangs in New Zealand

by Philippa Tolley

Best of RNZ: Gangs have been a feature of New Zealand society for more than half a century. Philippa Tolley takes a look at what future lies ahead.

Read more
How some Germans are countering the extremist views of the far-right
101320 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z World

How some Germans are countering the extremist view…

by Cathrin Schaer

Germans face a familiar dilemma in finding ways to oppose the views of the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Read more
White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?
101439 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Auckland Issues

White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?

by Kate Newton

Some Aucklanders have more say in their city's future than others.

Read more
Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Greeks in Heroes
101242 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Books

Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Gree…

by Lauren Buckeridge

In his delightful way, Stephen Fry dips back into the ancient world with more stories of tests, quests and feats of old.

Read more