Medium: Season Four
The belief that the living can communicate with the dead has been held by people since before Biblical times. Death is after all the ultimate mystery and sooner or later we are all headed there. This belief has manifested itself in every form of story telling known to man. From the little ghost story told around a camp fire to major motion pictures audiences just love tales that involve the interaction of the living with those that are vitally challenged. In the last few years a couple of television shows pertaining to this theme have become very popular. In both the person able to communicate with spirits is a, shall we say, very well endowed young woman with a perchance to wear flimsy outfits in public. Perhaps having a bra in the ‘D’ cup range acts as a type of spirit world antenna of sorts but the facts are men many be pulled to these series for reasons other than a ghost story. CBS Paramount has just released the forth season of one of these series, ‘Medium’. This is a series that by design is a response to the over indulgence in the scientific investigation techniques that have all but taken over the crime drama genre. Here is a crime show that focuses on the more un-provable practice of communication with the dead. Sure, there is a lot of evidence against it but that will never convince the true believers out there. Even if you don’t believe this is still a strong character driven drama that is far better than the plethora of so called reality shows out there. Those that don’t believe will still find this a vast improvement over some people eating disgusting things for a few bucks. This series doesn’t overly use the ‘gift’ the titular character has. It uses the vision that she gets to set up a mystery that is played out in the real world. If you haven’t seen this series yet give this third season set a chance.
In most ways Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette) is just like any wife and mother you might see picking her kids up after school. People living next door to her and her husband Joe (Jake Weber), an aerospace engineer, and three children; Ariel (Sofia Vassilieva), Bridgette (Maria Lark) and Marie (Madison and Miranda Carabello) would hardly know that Allison has a very special gift. Like several others in her family she receives visions from beyond the grave. She dislikes the term psychic preferring to be called a medium. Since most of the visions she receives concern unsettled spirits who died under rather suspicious circumstances Allison is frequently drawn into a murder investigation. After all it wouldn’t be much of a crime show if all the dearly departed had to tell Allison is he forgot to tell his wife the insurance policy is in the third draw of his desk. While Allison works with various individuals and law enforcement agencies she most frequently assists the Phoenix Arizona District Attorney Manuel Devalos (Miguel Sandoval). Allison also gets to work closely with a detective of the Phoenix police force, Detective Lee Scanlon (David Cubitt). He is basically an unbeliever but will take the help to solve a case. A growing theme in the series, particularly this forth season is the growth of the gift with Allison’s daughters. Besides the usual parental issues she has to help teach her girls how to develop and control their increasing abilities. This is not easy for the girls, especially the eldest, Ariel. She is not only growing up fast as most girls her age are prone to do but her dreams are rapidly becoming more prophetic. This gives this series a strange sort of grounding in the real world. There is a family drama that is unfolding that is just exasperated by the supernatural elements of the series.
The show is based on the real life medium also named Allison Dubois. The real Allison severs as a consultant to the series. As the forth season begins Allison’s secret has made public. This has a devastating emotional impact on her since she has always felt uncomfortable with any notoriety and tried her best to avoid the controversy her gift would create. There is addition fallout to the revelation of the family secret. The lives of Joe and the girls are greatly affected with people either ridiculing them or wanting Allison to contact some deceased relative. In the first ghostly vision of the season Allison is having vivid dreams about a lost boy. She is unable to get the usual help from either Devalos or Scanlon so she contacts Cynthia Keener (Anjelica Huston) who is an investigator hired by the missing boy’s parents. Keener strikes up a deal with Allison to help with other cases and in this season Allison and Keener wind up working on several cases involving missing persons. Allison is drawn into an unexpected case when Joe convinces her to accompany him to a party given by a prospective employer. Later on when the daughter of the boss becomes missing Allison must find the girl and also help Joe get the job.
In this season Allison is put through a lot of emotionally draining situations. One vision of a deaf girl is kidnapped and Allison loses her hearing. Joe seeks help from Keener to solve the case and hopefully get Allison’s hearing back. Reflecting the downward economic times Allison and Joe are short of cash. This forces Allison to help out Larry Watt (Conor O'Farrell) an attorney who has been a source of contention for Allison in the past. This is a moral dilemma for Allison but the family’s financial problems were beginning to overwhelm her. Devalos is out as the District Attorney which is not helped when Allison has a vision that his strongest supporter, Senator Jed Garrity (Gregory Itzin) was deeply involved in a terrible conspiracy. In a double episode Joe’s mother return; she had not heard from her since her secret has gotten out. The relationship between a man’s wife and mother is hardly ever an easy one but considering the special circumstances here there is a lot to work out between the two women.
This is a supernaturally based series but there are enough real situations for the audience to identify with and bond with the characters. This is of vital importance since it opens the target demographic to include those normally turned off by fantasy. This season is in many ways a rebuilding year for the characters. The problems they face are the same as we all have in our lives and it helps the series to remain fresh and interesting. CBS Paramount does their typical great job in bringing this season set to DVD. It has an anamorphic 1.78:1 video and a Dolby 5.1 audio track which are both theatrical in quality. There are several deleted scenes with commentary track, a featurette on Joe’s dream and an introduction to the character of Cynthia Keener. Rounding things out is a making of featurette and a gag reel.