|Medium: Season One (2005)
Starring: Patricia Arquette, Miguel Sandoval, David Cubitt, Sofia Vassilieva, Maria Lark, Jake Weber
As Cole Sear in “The Sixth Sense,” Haley Joel Osment might’ve been able to see dead people, but that kid ain’t got nothing on Allison DuBois.
“Medium,” created by Glenn Gordon Caron (“Moonlighting”), follows the life and times of Mrs. DuBois (played by Patricia Arquette), a happily married woman with three kids who’s interning at the Phoenix District Attorney’s office and trying to get into law school. Unfortunately, she’s having trouble concentrating because, well, she’s constantly finding herself in communication with the deceased…which, I think we can all agree, would prove distracting to anyone. Allison’s always known she’s been special, but, lately, it’s gotten to the point where she can’t turn around without finding a spirit who needs to pass on a message, and she can’t take so much as a cat nap without having a dream which inevitably proves to have been prophetic. As such, although she decides to let her dream of law school slip through her fingers, she reveals her gift to the D.A. (Miguel Sandoval), who brings her into the department as a consultant...though, of course, it’s played close to the vest on most investigations exactly what she brings to the table.
What’s most interesting about “Medium” is the way it so deftly brings together so many different elements; it runs the emotional gamut from comedy to pathos, with stops everywhere in-between. Although Allison invariably finds her abilities placing her in the middle of one crime scene or other, the most important part of the show is actually her family life. Despite the fact that Mom’s a psychic, the DuBois family might well be the most normal-acting clan on TV. The relationship between Allison and her husband, Joe (Jake Weber), is real; they joke, they bicker, they get grumpy with each other, they forgive each other. Joe walks around the house in boxers and briefs. Allison passes off kid duty to Joe when work calls. Each asks the other to run errands, and dinner is handled by whoever gets off work first. Joe, however, is being driven to early insanity by his wife’s “gift.” She’s constantly waking him up in the middle of the night (Alison: “I just had a dream.” Joe: “It’s 3:14 in the morning. Of course you did.”), she’s working into the wee hours of the morning and diminishing the amount of time she spends with her husband (and proportionally increasing the amount of time he flies solo with the kids), and, arguably worst of all, it seems that she’s passed a certain amount of her abilities onto her daughters. Speaking of the kids, the best actress in the bunch – and it’s a tough competition – is Maria Lark, who plays middle child Bridgette; she’s an eccentric little thing, but she’s hilarious.
District Attorney Manuel Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) spends most of the series as patience incarnate, though he freely admits that he really doesn’t get Allison’s gift; he trusts the end result, but he doesn’t always have a handle on how she gets there. A few episodes into the season, the dynamic changes slightly with the inclusion of David Cubitt as Detective Lee Scanlon; he’s a skeptic, as most policemen would be, but, by the end of the year, he’s not afraid to call Allison up in the middle of the night if he thinks she can offer insight to a case. (You can imagine how much Joe loves that.)
The scripts are extremely well composed, with Allison pointedly trying to use her gut as much as her abilities. Mysteries unfold through the episodes and, taking a cue from the aforementioned “The Sixth Sense,” some require a second viewing, just so you can see the pieces of the solution that you missed the first time around. Oh, and check out that theme song; you’d swear it came straight out of a Hitchcock flick.
Although there were only 16 episodes in the first year of the show – it was a midseason replacement rather than having premiered in the fall – the set has been tricked out with plenty of special features. There are audio commentaries and deleted scenes scattered about Discs 1 – 4, but Disc 5 includes four featurettes; there’s one about the creation of the show, one about the first season, one about what Patricia Arquette brings to the part, and, lastly, the very interesting story of the real Allison DuBois. Beyond that, there’s also a collection of TV spots, as well as a short but sweet gag reel.
Fair warning: Season 1 ends with a cliffhanger. Thankfully, however, CBS/Paramount has been considerate enough to hustle Season 2 onto their DVD release schedule for October 3rd.