Medium: Season Five
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Medium: Season Five

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For just about as long as people have been around they have puzzled over what happens to us when we die. Questions involving the survival of some aspect of what make us unique as a person whether it be called soul (literally breath in the Bible), life force or residual consciousness people appear to have a rather deeply engrained need to believe in the survival of at least some part of us after we cast off this mortal coil. When this age old manifestation of our innate curiosity is combined with the equally ancient need to communicate you wind up with the natural combination of the two; speaking with the dead. When a theme is this fundamental to the collective human condition it is only to be expected that it becomes the basis for numerous movies and television shows. Several such shows are popular now but the one that stands out from the pack is from CBS Paramount; ‘Medium’. This can be a touchy subject since many religions have very immutable doctrine pertaining to the practice but that is outside the scope of this consideration. When you focus on the production values of the series it come out as the best of the genre and is able to more than hold its own when compared to other televised dramatic series. The medium who is the focus of this series is Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette); the character based on the real life Dubois who has worked with several police forces, assisted in jury selection and has plied her unusual calling for a number of years The series has gathered a strong and loyal fan base which has successfully carried the show through to its current sixth season. While the new season is unfolding you can catch up with the previous year now available on DVD.

The longevity of the series so far, and six years now is quite an accomplishment, demonstrates there is much more to the series than the supernatural gimmick of talking to the dead. The show is a tautly constructed character driven series set against a well developed paranormal backdrop. Sure there is typically the ‘guest spirit of the week’ but ancillary plot points contained in the episodic story arcs frequently further the development of a much broader based continuing story that encompasses the entire season and in some instances the series as a whole. It has been noted that this is an alternative to the high tech forensic science oriented series that proliferated on the television in recent years. This series represents a 180 degree turn from that type of show. Where one employs cutting advances in science this series uses a methodology as old as recorded history and almost impossible to accurately substantiate. A show such as this based on something beyond the experience of most of the audience requires a higher skill level on the part of the creative minds behind the scenes. It is vital to create a world that has to be internally consistent. It is okay to use paranormal abilities as long as they are explained within the rule set that is established. Here the gift is something that tends to run in the family. Allison’s family has a history of this ability and her daughters Ariel (Sofia Vassilieva) and Bridgette (Maria Lark) have manifested the same dreams that connect her to the ‘other side’ typically to right some wrong. Her youngest daughter Marie (Madison and Miranda Carabello) has started to so signs of joining the family business. In the case of Marie her ability seems to manifest in the very economical ability to view upper tier cable stations that their cable plan does not subscribe to.

In this season Allison is still recuperating from the last season’s surgery to remove a growth on her brain stem. Afraid that this would remove ‘the gift’ she postponed the procedure in order to save her family. This resulted in Allison falling into a season finale coma. Prior to that Allison has been consulting for the Phoenix Arizona District Attorney Manuel Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) helping him get to the bottom of the more difficult cases. Usually she is partnered with police Lee Scanlon (David Cubitt). This unusual vocation has put strain on Allison’s marriage to Joe (Jake Weber). The hook for most of the stories is that the meaning of her dreams is rarely straight forward. For example she dreamt about an apocalyptic end of the world. It turns out side had to prevent a man from murdering his entire family. Often when she ca=n correctly interpret the dreams it affords her a perspective of a ghost who can be privy to information not obtainable through any means available to the CSI teams. One of the main things that separate this series from others of the genre is the emotional honesty that the cast imparts to the production. Allison is basically a soccer mom and suburban housewife working outside the home. While few can directly understand the gift millions of families can readily identify with the protagonist and her family. The cast and crew do not depend on the ability so it never gets a chance to become an overused gimmick. Ultimately this is a gripping crime drama that is well worth adding to your collection.

Posted 10/05/09

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