Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Medium...as in Average?

Here's an article from the Detroit News that points out what television to watch as you wait for your favourites to return in January or February. Take from it what you will...there's no Victoria Secret runway shows so I suggest we all just try to get out more and enjoy the season.

But there's one thing reviewer Meikeisha Toby states that I need to put to the floor.

'Medium' (10 p.m. Wednesdays, NBC)

Emmy winning actress Patricia Arquette is back as Allison the psychic on this often-overlooked drama. Ignore this no longer or you will have a future devoid of suspense.

I watched my first episode of this series last Wednesday as I've asked to develop something that runs in the same pack as 'Medium' and 'Ghost Whisperer', with a bit of 'Minority Report' thrown in. So doing the requisite checking out of what's similar.

'Medium' made my brain numb. Part family melodrama, part investigative mystery (sort of like 'Seventh Heaven' meets 'The Gift') - it was like being transported back in time to when television was simple and one note...and soooo boring. For starters, our heroine (Ms. Arquette) was the most passive I've ever seen.

The story short strokes....

- a woman gets shot from a bridge while driving on the freeway. City thinks mad sniper on the loose.

- Arquette buys video camera for her husbands birthday. Tests camera and 'sees' some footage shot on it previously by someone else (a woman talks into the lens), even though there's no disc or battery in camera. Not a short clip - couple minutes at least.

- brief B-line of cops investigation and interogation of husband of murdered woman as he's the prime suspect

- as Arquette's family celebrates birthday and live life around the house, once each act, the camera turns on by itself and Arquette watches each successive recording. It becomes quickly apparent that the woman subject and the videotaper are conspiring to shoot her husband off a bridge on the freeway. They attempt to do so, but shoot the wrong person in wrong car.

- last recording is of woman shooting and killing her videotaping lover because he's panicking. Arquette crosses paths with woman, gets her downtown, and they bust her.

One recording per act, each recording 3-4 minutes long at least, and all our hero did was basically watch them as the plot unfolded on tape and was more or less resolved. Turned out the woman had traded the camera in after killing her lover and the store sold it to Arquette.

That was it. Suspense? What suspense? There was more home/personal life than you usually see in most investigative mysteries on tv these days - is that its hook?

Who watches this show? Who likes this show? I am genuinely curious and will not mock (know thy potential competition). 'Medium' (and 'Ghost Whisperer' for that matter) seems to be doing decent ratings and is in its third season - someone's watching and I want to understand why.


Anonymous said...

You're not looking deep enough.

Think about some of the discussions in the 60's around the la Nouvelle Vague and the possibilities for the future of cinema. I think Medium is subversively tapping into this same energy.

I think when Arquette took on the passive role of viewer the filmmakers were, in a very Brechtian way, making a very snide (almost cynical?) remark on the media(um?), and our role in a process which recreates then redefines our reality.

The "warm fuzzies" generated by the scenes of "homelife" are essential to opening up the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which will then of course enable the more subversive message to manifest itself.

Medium is not the most elegant example of the form but in this market it doesn't have to be.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

I got hooked on Medium right from the pilot and have never missed an episode. True, the episode in question was not one of the show's best but hang in there, Wil. It really deserves a second chance.

DMc said...

I'm with Will on this one. Another show I just don't get. I also will be bold here and predict that the show's male audience is even less than Ghost Whisperer's, which at least has Jennifer Love's Hewitts.

wcdixon said...

Ha! The Arquette's vs. the Hewitt's...and we have a winner! I actually have the first season dvd's of Ghost Whisperer sitting in front of me beside the tv. A season of Hewitt's...in HD....time for a blogging break. Come on, it's research!

Kelly: I appreciate that and will watch another.

Jutra: um...we need to talk

Good Dog said...


Oh, boy. Had been writing about what US dramas the BBC have been showing of late. Of course... Medium!

I suppose the reason I forgot was... well, it's Medium. If it was playing on a 60ft screen in an empty white-walled room you'd manage to find something more interesting to look at.

Bill Cunningham said...

The good thing about Medium is the opening credits which for some reason remind me of Hitchcock.

There are two reasons to watch Ghost Whisperer...

Caroline said...

You have to look beyond it just being a paranormal show. The first season did a really good job of her fighting herself and the gift. But it's also a great story about her family life ... working mom, parenting struggles, relationship struggles. On a very base level, Alison's life is one that most women can relate to. It doesn't glamourize her job or her house. And nobody on that show except maybe David Cubitt is extraordinarily good looking. But they are very compelling as individual characters.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't appointment tv for me either, but it has struck a chord in that Patricia Arquette is in many ways an everywoman. And she does a little big of good in every episode, which I think is something most of us strive for in our lives.

So, no big suspense. This is a sheep in wolf's clothing ... a relationship show that is really masquerding as a procerdural.

That's my take. I could be wrong.

wcdixon said...

I think you're more right than wrong Caro... recently spoke with two older couples who said it was 'must see' tv for them when it premiered last week. Liked the little mysteries but also the family drama. Not the most desirable demographic I'd suppose, but why not.

Caroline said...

Dix, how old? A network that shall go unnamed (though I am sure you can gess) refers to a certain demo as the "cramming for the finals" audience, and I can see how Medium would appeal to them. Comforting thought that if your number is up and you have unfinished business, someone kind and lovely like Alison would be there to sort it out and let you rest in peace.

wcdixon said...

Couples were older - in their 60's

Heart Of Darkness said...

I've never been keen on watching Medium - I don't know if it's the cast or the subject I cannot stomach, but there's something about that show that does not appeal to me in any sense of the word.

I do wait for CSI:Crime Scene Investigation to come back and take CSI:NY off the air, though... and The New Adventures of Old Christine (that took a seasonal break yesterday) - only sitcom on TV worth watching!

Crashdummie said...

Haven't heard of Medium, but judging from your comments, it doesn't seem like i have missed anything.

Don't have enough time to watch any sit-com, try to follow Veronica Mars & as Hart, waiting for CSI Las Vegas.

Tried to see new series as "Ugly Betty" etc but just can't. Instead, I end up watching reruns of Seinfeld :)

Danny-K said...

The only reason to watch Medium, is to see Patricia Arquette do what she does best in movies - getting laid!

Failing that, perhaps someone at her place of work could get the hots for her, or she gets tempted by a work colleague.

That would spice things up somewhat.

Sadly, on the first count - she never does;
on the second - no one ever does;
and on the third - she hasn't so far.

So, with both a conflict-free home and work life for the central character the series will continue to numb the brain.