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Reviewed by Will Harris
f you’ve watched “Medium” since its premiere, then you already know that it’s a series about Alison Dubois (Patricia Arquette), a wife and mother who’s gifted with the ability of precognition, and though it may sound incredible to those who haven’t been watching the series, it manages to be as much about Alison’s family as it is her gifts. In its fourth season, however, it’s really, really about her family, as the Dubois clan deals with some very serious lifestyle changes.
Yes, when Season Three wrapped up, things were left in a very weird state for the family Dubois -- to put it mildly. Alison’s abilities had been made public, along with the fact that she had been assisting the D.A.’s office, and is now without a job, Joe is unemployed as well, due to the way things went down after the shooting at the offices of Aerodyne, and Manuel Devalos left town in the wake of the controversy over Alison, leaving the despicable Tom Van Dyke as the District Attorney of Phoenix. It’s always been made evident that Alison, Joe and the kids are living a middle-class lifestyle, but now they’re forced to cling desperately to the lower rungs of that class, dealing with the economic realities of surviving on their savings while searching for alternate employment.
After having a disturbing dream about a kidnapped boy, but with no one to assist her in an investigation at the D.A.’s office, Alison turns to an organization called Ameri-Tips and enters into a tenuous relationship with its founder, Cynthia Keener, played by the inestimably talented Anjelica Huston. Keener doesn’t really understand Alison’s abilities and can’t really grasp why her visions so often range from the vague to the inexplicable, but the two eventually forge a bond as a result of an event that occurred in Keener’s past. Joe, meanwhile, decides to move forward with an invention of his own devising, going into business with a beautiful investor (Kelly Preston) whose enthusiasm for Joe’s idea seems suspect as often as it seems genuine.
As ever, the relationship between Alison and Joe remains one of the most realistic portrayals of marriage on television. The two struggle with the family’s financial issues throughout the season, but never is it more difficult to watch – and I mean that as a compliment – than when Alison questions Joe’s decision to use the girls’ college fund to finance his invention and he replies by suggesting that she doesn’t believe in him enough to let him do it. Ouch. And, yet, it’s the kind of battle that you can absolutely picture happening. The kids also get their usual spotlights throughout the season, with highlights including Bridgette’s attempts to get Joe to convince a collections agent in India that his house is going to be broken into, and Ariel’s horrific visions of a classmate’s mother pouring gasoline over herself and lighting herself on fire. Speaking of family, Joe’s mother, Marjorie (Kathy Baker), makes an extended appearance this season, harboring a secret that – despite her misgivings about her daughter-in-law – she’s willing to share with Alison but not with Joe.
Both the dreams and the crimes are as fascinating as ever this season on “Medium,” including a trip to Paris that you have to see to appreciate, and some of the imagery presented on the show is more disconcerting than it’s ever been before. (Seriously, the shot in the season opener of the dead boy haunted me for quite some time afterwards.) But, then, it’s not like you could say that the earlier seasons of the series have been laugh-a-minute. For its lighthearted moments, “Medium” is definitely a dark show; and given the high quality of the material in its fourth season, we can only hope that it will continue to be so for several years to come.
Special Features: In addition to the typically strong season summary featurette, there’s “Introducing Cynthia Keener,” which examines the arrival of Anjelica Huston on the show, and “Joe’s Crayon Dream,” a look at the effects involved in bringing one of the show’s more creative dream sequences to life. Also included is a well-done gag reel (presumably put together for the season’s wrap party) and deleted scenes with optional commentary by executive producers Glenn Gordon Caron and Larry Teng, but, sadly, no episodic commentaries are included this time around.