Ghost Whisperer: Season Three
For as long as man has existed he has always wondered about what happens when you die. Let’s face it, there is not a whole lot of empirical evidence about the subject. All we truly know is this is something that all of us face. Ben Franklin once said there is nothing as certain as death and taxes. Although the rich have found many loopholes around paying taxes no one can avoid the old grim reaper. Since this is part of the most fundamental aspects of being human it is only natural for literature, films and even television to use the after life as a central theme. There has been a recent upsurge in such stories on television lately. One of the most popular is a Friday night staple on CBS, ‘The Ghost Whisperer’. In it a young woman is able to communicate with the dead and help the ghosts find some sort of closure which allows them to move on to that proverbial better place. Of course with such ability comes a staggering responsibility. The young woman with the ‘gift’ cannot turn away a request for help from the sort of dead and this usually results in some problems in her own life. Now the third season is available on DVD through CBS Paramount and if you haven’t caught this one TV yet now is your chance to catch up before the start of new episodes. The series is one of the better one on the air now with excellent writing and direction and a talented cast. Young women who claimed they could talk to the dead used to be burned at the stake; now they have their own television series.
For Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) life in the small New England town of Grandview should be idyllic. She loves her husband of a couple of years, Jim Clancy (David Conrad) who is a paramedic and runs a quaint antique shop named ‘The Same As It Never Was’’. The one fly in the ointment is Melinda has a very special power. She can see and speak to the dead; a Ghost Whisperer. When a person dies with some unfinished business they cannot rest until they set matters straight. This is where Melinda comes in. She talks to the ghost and determines what is needed and then goes off to convince the living to help correct it. Now you can’t expect a ghost to just come out and tell Melinda exactly what has to be done. Their chats with her are more often than not veiled in hidden clues to the specifics. This result in Melinda having to be part Nancy Drew to track and uncovers the mystery.
In the first season of the series the format was pretty much the guest ghost of the week. This episodic methodology leads to mostly self contained stories. Starting in the second season and continuing to this one the series began to move into more involved stories. The current format is to have season oriented arcs that are built slowly over several episodes. As part of this there is also the introduction of themes with a darker nature. There are two places that the dead can wind up; the Light or the Dark Side. Okay, not the most original names; they have been used before but you get the idea. Melinda has to make sure her charges wind up in the light. There is an evil former leader of a Satanic cult, Romano (John Walcutt). He delights in sending the dead off to the torment of the dark side. Some of the ghost are unaware on their live challenged nature leaving Melinda the task of telling them they are dead; not the most pleasant aspect of her job. There is also a dark ghost whisperer, Gabriel Lawrence (Ignacio Serricchio) who also happens to be Melinda’s half brother. His mission is to block Melinda ensuring the ghosts remain earthbound or worse go to the dark place. He knew he had the ability since he was a child but was sent to a mental hospital. He found his only friends were the ghosts he could see and was resentful of their crossing over to the light. The inclusion of this dichotomy between good and evil adds a new dimension to the series and keeps it from being just an endless stream of ghosts in need. There is now a potential for Melinda to fail to send the ghosts to the light. This also allows the writers to incorporate the classic mythologies surrounding death and an afterlife. Most importantly it creates a clearly defined adversary for Melinda. Without that the stories would be too light and fluffy. This may be an old plot device but it helps to keep the series moving in the right direction.
Melinda is not alone in her work with the not so dead. Delia Banks (Camryn Manheim) is a local real estate agent who becomes partners with Melinda in the antique store. When told about Melinda’s gift she is initially skeptical but in this season truly begins to understand what is going on around her. In this season Delia comes face to face with the supernatural but her basic personality needs to find some alternate, rational explanation for what has occurred. Ultimately she tells Melinda that she will try to be more understanding and accepting. Another new regular character in this season is Rick Payne (Jay Mohr) a professor of mythology at nearby Grandview University. Melinda occasionally sought his help in previous seasons when she needed some clues to help her ghosts. This season he becomes a regular and part of Melinda’s regular sources of information and advice. He married a woman who turned out to be a ghost working for the dark side.
In this season Melinda almost dies and has a near death experience. This does serve to strengthen her understanding of her ‘clients’. It was also a matter of great concern to Jim and Rick who have to travel to an old time Grandview to help her come back to the living. This leads up to the beginning of season three where things get increasingly interested for Melinda. She finds out that the man she thought was her father may not be. She begins a search for him asking her dead mother for help. It also comes out that there is something sinister at work in peaceful Grandview that draws Melinda into even more mysteries. Throughout it all Melinda retains her perchance for running around town in outfits that seem to be more from Victoria’s Secret than normal street wear. Considering how Melinda looks in the outfits no man in town seems to complain.
As in the previous DVD season sets CBS Paramount does a great job here. The video and audio are, as would be expected, fantastic. The channel separation is better than usual for a television series and always interesting. This is one to watch and enjoy.