Top Five Fives
Listicle by Annie Riordano
I have a new addiction: countdown shows. I have precious little free time, being too busy in the mornings getting ready for work, and being too tired when I come home at night to concentrate on anything more intricate than a glass of bourbon. I love watching true crime shows and paranormal reality shows, but it’s kinda hard to commit yourself to a forty minute+ program when you’re also trying to get dressed, put your face on, eat your coffee, and drink your cereal. Clocking in at approximately ten minutes per episode, these little countdown shows are perfect for the morbid bitch on the run, eager to absorb as much information in as little time as possible.
#1 – Scary Mysteries
So there I was, innocently searching the depths of YouTube for a recording of an alleged Bigfoot call I’d heard once, back in the 90s, on some paranormal show or another (incidentally, it was this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV4vnp65Kgw ) – because I’m weird like that and have no life – when I stumbled upon this series. It lured me in with Bigfoot calls, seduced me with horrific cautionary tales from the Mariana Web, and had me thoroughly hooked with stories of time travel, alien abductions and Cryptid sightings. For reasons unknown, each segment begins with what sounds like a muffled toilet flush. But they’re well researched, clearly narrated, and tidier than a crisp police file from the 40s, filled with sepia photos and plastic wrapped clues tucked away in the dusty closet of a retired and cynical private eye.
#2 – Top5s
This one is probably my favorite. I have no idea who the man behind Top5s is, only that he’s young and English and has a very soothing voice. I could fall asleep listening to him discuss haunted houses, serial killers and the dark histories of the London underground. He has a lovely lilting, plaintive voice and seems to honestly care about his chosen subjects, often speaking in revered tones and pleading compassion for the victims. It’s impossible not to like him. He speaks so eagerly, but never obnoxiously, and his subjects are tirelessly researched, often revealing details that I had never before known despite my many years as a connoisseur of all things weird and occult. Each episode is painstakingly pieced together, loaded with perfect accompanying photographs and soft, subtle, eerie music. I haven’t seen a single boring episode yet. So Top5s, whoever the hell you are – Bravissimo!
#3 – Slapped Ham
This show is the polar opposite of Top5s, narrated by a frighteningly cheerful Brit (or maybe Aussie, I suck at accents) named, I think, Callum; a chipper dork whose smile is just short of pervy. But hey, what else could you honestly expect from a guy who calls his show Slapped Ham? He covers pretty much anything and everything paranormal, sunnily showing us footage of poltergeist tantrums, sea serpent sightings, UFO footage, Bigfoot encounters, the facts behind spontaneous human combustion, and scads of other weirdo shit. He is jovial throughout, and although a lot of the footage and photos presented more often than not tend to elicit cries of “Oh BULLSHIT!” from me, it’s a lot of fun to watch and consider, and he ends every episode with a ridiculous cry of “POOOOOOOOOOOO!” as he leaps out of frame. Silly stuff, but likable as hell.
#4 – Criminally Listed
This one is oddly hypnotic, due in part to the sorrowful undercurrent of morose music that flows just beneath every episode, mostly because the guy who narrates it sounds like a robot. And maybe it is a robot, but I’ve never heard a robot with a Canadian accent before. This guy leans heavily towards the true crime stuff – mysterious disappearances, unsolved murders, serial killers, etc. But seriously, does this guy really sound like this? Or is it simply Stephen Hawking as Dudley Doo-Right starring in “The Xanax Addicted Cyborg Story?”
I only just recently started binging on these. Again, another young dude with a hard British accent delves into the shadowy unknown, chronicling tales of hauntings and legends in a breathy, radio-spookshow announcer voice. Sometimes, they’ll veer off into Conspiracy Theory Terrain, or Surveillance Camera Footage Country. All they choose to report on is chosen well and thoughtfully. And I say “they” because DorsetGhost is apparently two young men who enjoy ghost hunting and storytelling. I have no idea who the hell they are, but I’m enjoying their efforts so far.
So, if you’re like me (and I know I am) – pressed for time but eager to force feed your brain with creepy tidbits, grim legends and cold cases concerning colder corpses (because, you know, someday you may be presented with the opportunity to appear on Jeopardy and clean house in the “Things Only I Know” category) give any of these guys a spin. They’re like snack sized handfuls of Sightings, Forensic Files, Ghost Hunters and/or Unsolved Mysteries.
And if you know of any others that I didn’t mention, feel free to mention them yourselves. I need moar showz!