Allison Dubois - Patricia Arquette
Joe Dubois - Jake Weber
Manuel Devalos - Miguel Sandoval
Lee Scanlon - David Cubitt
OTHER MEDIUM SEASONS
THEY ALSO SEE DEAD PEOPLE
Welcome to the world of Allison DuBois, a wife and mother of three girls who also works for the District Attorney's office as a consultant who gets most of her clues through dreams sent to her by the victims of the crimes.
MEDIUM is a fairly straightforward crime show with just the hints handed out to Allison to give it a genre edge. Change her talent to something more forensic and there would be very little to mark it out from the dozens of other police procedural shows that litter the networks.
What the show does have in its favour is Patricia Arquette as Allison. Conflicted by the demands that her new calling puts on her family life, struggling to juggle work and kids and husband, she gives an excellent showing as the woman at the centre of the show and manages to carry it with apparently no effort whatsoever. She is given strong support by Jake Weber as Allison's husband who is often grumpy and upset about the things that his wife's job is making her do, but usually comes around and is always supportive. The DuBois household is messy, anarchic and somehow sort of works, something that any family should easily be able to recognise and empathise with.
Miguel Sandoval is also solid as the DA.
MEDIUM is never less than watchable and generally errs of the side of quality, although the crime/vision/solution template does start to get a bit wearing by the end of the season.Top
Allison Dubois has a fairly normal life. She is married to an aeronautical engineer, she has two children and is interning with the Phoenix District Attorney's office with a view to going to law school. She also sees dead people. They tell her things. When her husband sends off some descriptions of her dreams to various law enforcement agencies, the Texas Rangers respond and whisk Allison off to look into the case of a child molestor who might have graduated to murder. Understandably uncertain of her abilities and motive, the enforcement officers finally come around to trusting her, but then a hurricane hits and the evidence is all washed away.
This series opens with a stark statement in white against a black background. It states that there actually is an Allison. It then goes on to add the word 'Really'. It's almost as though the makers don't have faith in their ability to make the audience suspend disbelief, but they really ought not to worry because MEDIUM is a fun hour, mixing up the usual police/lawyer stuff with a dash of the supernatural to make it a little different. The warning might also be seen as an apology for the realistic manner of the show, but that is part of its success. The depiction of domestic chaos is utterly convincing and certainly familiar to anyone living with a family.
The casting also helps enormously. Patricia Arquette makes for an appealing heroine without coming over as unbelievable or too normal. All of the characters here are wonderfully normal (as far as the show's concept allows). She worries about her ability, but more about the effect it has on the family. They, on the other hand, seem to take it all very much in their stride. Jake Weber is the supportive husband, but this is a couple who are united, but fight, love each other, but are often grumpy. Even the DA, played by Miguel Sandoval, seems positively glowing with normality. There is a real sense that these are real people dealing with an absurd situation in a real manner.
As for the plot with the child molestor and the Texas Rangers, that is fairly standard stuff, although it does take a left turn with the arrival of the hurricane and there are some nice verbal exchanges between Allison and the head cop.
All in all, MEDIUM gets off to an entertaining start and promises much for the future.Written by Glenn Gordon Caron
Directed by Glenn Gordon Caron
Suspicions and Certainties
Allison gets called in on her first job consulting for the Phoenix DA's office. She is asked to pick out a jury that is going to give a man the death penalty for killing and raping (in that order) six women. She is certain that she wants to do it, but Joe is less certain. When the face of the condemned man on the TV doesn't match the one in her dream, Allison panics.
MEDIUM has set out its stall with the first two episodes. This is going to be a show rooted in the supposed reality of its source material. Though it starts with an amusingly shocking opening of a man having sex with a corpse (really), it then tells the story of Allison using her skills to pick a group of people out for jury service. As this jury will be sentencing the man to death, there is a bit more drama to it than that, but the story here is more about Allison and her faith in her gift and what it means to use it in the service of justice. This isn't a polemical debate on capital punishment, but at least gets discussed.
Without that much of a story, it's down to the actors to pull the thing through and Patricia Arquette has settled into the role immediately. In fact, all of the cast seem completely at home as if we had stumbled into the middle of a third or fourth season and not right at the beginning of the first.
At least it seems likely that MEDIUM isn't going to follow formula episode through episode and that can only be a good thing.Written by Glenn Gordon Caron
Directed by Vincent Misiano
Night of the Wolf
Allison has a dream about being Little Red Riding Hood being chased by the Wolf through an empty airport. She does not immediately see any connection with the case of a witness who is unwilling to identify the true face of the killer of her boyfriend for fear that the man might come after her. There are troubles at home as well as one of her daughters starts exhibiting antisocial tendencies, something that they trace back to her imaginary friend Bobby Lachelle, a friend who turns out to be more dead than imaginary.
Once again the mix of the domestic with the supernatural crime solving works well, this time with the domestic drama taking precedent. The potential for one of her children to inherit her gift is handled truthfully, the depiction of a marriage under stress from work and children being only too real thanks to the work of Arquette and Weber.
As for the crime element, it's fine, but the inclusion of the red cloak is fine in a dream sequence it completely fails to convince in the real world.Written by René Echevarria
Directed by Artie Mandelberg
Allison has a dream about a rapist and killer only to come across him at work the following day helping out with a case. He is the proverbial good samaritan and nobody believes him capable of what she knows of him. It is perhaps something to do with the fact that she might be pregnant. Until she realises, that what she's seeing might not yet have happened.
One week after one daughter showed signs of inheriting Allison's talents another finds it possible to deal with difficult maths problems by reading her father's mind. The uncertainty over the pregnancy and what is means to both Allison and her husband is nicely judged, again aided by the fine performances from Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber. There is no problem at all seeing these two as a married couple and real people in their own right with all the inevitable contradictions and flaws.
The crime story is again the weak link, never really getting going too much and without any real drama to speak of, other than the killer popping up in Allison's dreams, but even that manages to get repetitive.Written by Moira Kirland
Directed by Vincent Misiano
The Other Side of the Tracks
Two boys race a train. One makes it and the other doesn't. It's a dream that is haunting Allison with such effectiveness that she cannot focus on anything else. She goes to a doctor of the paranormal for help and learns that the dream relates to the doctor, but with some real diffences in detail. Then she finds a film and a book that explain a lot, but raise other questions.
Another week and another mystery to be solved by interpreting Allison's dream. There's a template here and it's becoming set in stone really rather quickly, so only the details change and not by enough to stall an approaching sense of deja vu. Fortunately there is a fine central performance from Patricia Arquette as the believably exhausted Allison to anchor it and the secondary story seems to go nowhere until Allison comes up with a solution, but two days too late. It's a nice touch, throwing some doubt back into the mix as to whether she is going to 'win' all the time.Written by Chris Dingess
Directed by Eric Laneuville
In Sickness and Adultery
When a dead cop tells Allison that the gun that killed him was buried with him, she finds herself on the stand to testify as to what exactly it is that she does for a living. At the same time, she has to deal with the fact that her husband is having a biopsy and that he might be having an affair.
This episode is a little more overwrought than is usual since there are the issues of infidelity and potential cancer to be dealt with as well as the case in question. Everyone is on edge with everyone and every imaginable misunderstanding conspires to set Allison off, consequently causing tension (to say the least) in the marriage. Any married couple will identify with the mood if not with the causes.
The ethical dilemma of either revealing the truth about herself with all the subsequent consequences or lying under oath on the stand is no small thing and the way in which it is finally resolved is satisfying.Written by Michael Angeli
Directed by Aaron Lipstadt
Allison dreams of a young woman throwing herself off a cliff near to some electricity pylons. She tracks down the location and the body is discovered. When the boyfriend is pulled in to answer for the presence of tyre tracks from his car at the scene, it turns out that his father is an attorney that Allison has already tangled with in court. Joe, in the meantime, is faced with a dilemma when he learns from Allison that one of his co-workers is about to die.
The story starts out as a suicide and a bit different, but soon descends into the usual finding the truth out through little hints in subsequent dreams and visions. It's all competently done and benefits from the confident performances, but the format is getting a bit samey and starting to bring deja vu along with its precognition.
More interesting is the side story in which Joe gets a bit of insight into Allison's life when he has to confront his friend with the future possibility of his death. All the reactions are completely understandable and believable. One thing's for sure, he ought to be a bit more understanding from here on in.Written by Melinda Hsu
Directed by Artie Mandelberg
A dream about her half-brother, currently serving in Iraq, sends Allison into a panic, but he shows up safe and sound and wanting to use her couch for a couple of days. All is not well, however, and the dreams lead Allison to believe that her brother shares her gift and is being haunted by a dead fellow soldier.
War is hell and the vets that come home have all kinds of problems relating to the things that they saw or did, or allowed to be done in the theatre of battle. The subtext is all there to be seen and is so close to the surface that it's more text than sub. That said, the actual crime and its reasons are more intriguing than the story itself.Written by David Folwell
Directed by Peter Werner
A Couple of Choices
Couples are killing each other in suicide pacts in the city and one detective, whose sister was one of the first victims, is determined to prove that there is someone else involved. Allison agrees with him, but when he learns how she has come to that judgement he is less than best pleased.
The killer here is a much more interesting one that we have seen to date and the concentration on the investigation leaves us wanting to know more about him and how he came to be such a monster. He is certainly more interesting that the angry and misunderstood cop with whom we spend far too much time.
The side story of Allison's husband trying to come up with a surprise party for her has a nice punchline, but is otherwise merely distracting.Written by Michael Angeli & Glenn Gordon Caron
Directed by Jeff Bleckner
Allison's daughter has some dreams to do with a little girl trapped in a castle by an evil ogre. Then she starts to see signs that her dream is more than that and learns that a girl went missing and the dream is possibly a cry for help.
Bringing in the daughter into Allison's world is a way of upping the marital stress levels and, as ever, the home life is dealt with very well. The panic of a mother whose child has gone missing on a school trip is certainly believable. Less believable is the tale of the kidnapping and subsequent holding of the little girl.Written by Moira Kirland
Directed by Bill L Norton
I Married a Mind Reader
Allison is ill and when she is ill her gifts go haywire. In this case, whilst watching reruns of an old black and white sitcom called I Married a Mind Reader she starts to dream about the scandal that killed one of the stars. Only in her dreams it didn't happen the way history tells it.
OK, having the black and white tv show at the centre of the plot starts off like a gag episode, but it drifts back towards a normal type of episode with just extended dream sequences, some of which are in black and white. It also benefits from two excellent central performances from Paul Blackthorne (Harry in THE DRESDEN FILES) and Frances Fisher (EUREKA) as the bitchy leading stars. Whilst they're on the screen they're more fun to be around than the regular cast.
The period is also lovingly realised, mainly through costume and hairstyles rather than any big touches, giving the whole thing much more authenticity and making this one of the more fun episodes.Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Duane Clark
A Priest, a Doctor and a Medium Walk into an Execution Chamber
Allison gets to watch an execution as part of her ongoing development in the DA's office, but is baffled when she doesn't see the dead man's spirit. She is even more baffled when a woman is killed and the dead man is positively identified as the killer.
The plot to this episode, apart from having the first line of a joke as the title, is pretty silly. In fact it's very silly with a completely unbelievable outcome. More interesting is the dilemma Allison faces when she learns something about her daughter's new friend that she knows is going to break her little girl's heart. This is not, unfortunately, seen through to a satisfying conclusion, but then isn't that the essence of home life?Written by Chris Dingess
Directed by Bill L Norton
Being Mrs O'Leary's Cow
Allison dreams of a pilot landing a plane in the midst of a disaster and saving the lives of all on board. Unfortunately, she then learns that the man's wife has been killed and when she dreams of the plane crashing and killing everyone aboard because it has a different pilot, she is left with a major dilemma. Does she see the man in prison for a crime she believes he committed or does she let him go in order to save the lives of all the plane passengers.
Well now, Allison's in a pickle and it's a nice dilemma. What price a life, what price justice? It enlivens what would otherwise be just another example of the increasingly familiar template that the show is falling into. The sense of deja vu is hovering around the edges of the show, but it is just managing to do enough to stay fresh.
Oh, and in case you didn't know, Mrs O'Leary's Cow was credited with starting a fire in Chicago in 1871.Written by Melinda Hsu
Directed by Ronald L. Schwary
Penny For Your Thoughts
Allison dreams of a particularly brutal murder only to find out that it took place in 1991. The killer was a doctor and it turns out that he might be the only link Allison has to a ghost who is possessing medical people and making them act out his crimes. And the next one is due to happen in three days.
This is a fresh idea and makes up for the fact that the story follows the same general format as all the others that have gone before it. Allison's confrontations with the possessed killer are nicely unnerving, although there is too much of an echo of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS about them for comfort.
The supporting story, of Allison's daughter being accused of cheating because she shares her mother's ability adds to the realism of the family by being as dull as most family stories.Written by Moira Kirland
Directed by Aaron Lipstadt
In the Rough
Allison learns that a man whose case is being re-examined for potential miscarriage of justice is not guilty of the crime he was convicted of, but is guilty of an even greater one.
Ends justifying means is one of the age-old themes of compelling drama, especially criminal drama. Is fitting up a man you know is guilty to avoid him using the system to escape justice acceptable? Can two wrongs ever make a right? This is the dilemma that faces Allison this time around, but she grapples with it for only a short time before the plot conspires to save her conscience.
The secondary story, of Allison's mother-in-law coming to visit is less tedious than it has any right to be thanks to her dead father-in-law popping up in the shower.Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Duane Clark
When Push Comes to Shove Part 1
The murder of a red-headed girl sends the city into a panic, but Allison has a vision that links with Captain Push, the Texan law officer who first listened to her. He flies out to help, but proves to be the most help when he temporarily dies. As Allison fights to keep her marriage from crumbling under the pressure of her late nights, Push makes a decision from his sick bed.
Arliss Howard is back as Captain Push (originally seen all the way back in the Pilot and his performance as the larger than life Texan lifts the finale out of the ordinary, not least because it is he who provides the rather limp cliffhanger.
The home life of the DuBois household continues to be well observed, though the arguments here are similar to ones that have been happening throughout the series, so it is hard to understand why this one should be creating more strife than usual.Written by Chris Dingess
Directed by Aaron Lipstadt
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