Sometimes, I think if they combined certain elements of the shows I secretly like to watch, they would have a better chance of not sucking. Or, at least, they would have a better chance of not sucking so HARD. For example, Ghost Whisperer and Medium. They’re essentially the same show. Both are kind of middling TV about lovely suburban ladies who see dead people. Both have pretty great casts and both have leading actresses who make me CRAZY. But sometimes, I think if these shows joined forces and the resulting mash-up was about their husbands getting together and fighting evil ghosts, I would totally watch it.
I watch Ghost Whisperer. I do. And I even like it sometimes. Despite the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad acting from Jennifer Love Hewitt. She’s very cute and I like her whimsically crazy “Oh, am I wearing a shirt that flies open from the bottom right up to my boobs?” fashion, uh, non-sense, and I like her nemesis-slash-helper-monkey professor Jay Mohr and I like her new BFF Camryn Manheim (who is being treated really, really well by hair and makeup and wardrobe, because she looks FIERCE.) And I like her husband. I like him to stand there and look pretty.
But ultimately, the show is formulaic and stupid and one-note. It would make a good X-Files episode if it didn’t end with tears and smiles and white light and swelling music every week. So I’m confused. Not only as to why this show exists, but as to why it exists TWICE. Because Medium? Is this exact same show. The writing and acting is slightly better here and the quality of guest stars is a big score, but ultimately, it’s the same show, right down to the premise, which characters I like and which characters drive me nuts.
I don’t HATE Patricia Arquette, and she is rocking the hell out of her shiny, shiny hair and I love that she’s playing a very normal type of mom who wears normal mom-type clothes and is sometimes scatterbrained and busy, but realistically parental, even though she sees spirits and shit. However, her monotonous delivery is soooooo irritating! Nothing she says is ever given any weight because she says it all with exactly the same inflection, unless she’s yelling. I got to be less annoyed by it last season when I noted subtle changes in her vocal tone, but it’s too subtle. She’s still speaking in mono when I need stereo.
That said, I like her kids, who manage to come off as sweet and bratty and normal at the same time and her oldest daughter Ariel is played by a very, very good little actress. And Joe. Oh, Joe. Just call me, Joe. Hey Joe. I wrote sixty-three songs this year and they’re all about Joe. Her husband (Joe) is a sexy mofo rocket scientist, who is played by sexy mofo zombie-killer Jake Weber. I like his weird accent and his tousled hair and his crooked nose and I have a big ol’ crush on him and have ever since Sarah Polley had a crush on him when they were in Dawn of the Dead together. He is pretty much the best thing ever on this show. He balances Arquette’s blaaaahhhhhh tone with a dry, witty sarcasm that sometimes borders on meanness. Oh, and sometimes, he wanders around the house in his underwear. Pantless Joe. That’s my favourite Joe.
If I had to pick between the two, I’d go with Medium. The cloying sweetness and sentimentality of Ghost Whisperer gives me a toothache. I understand how some people like that, but the teary, “go-into-the-light!” encouragment of J.Lo.Hew every week is like, ENOUGH ALREADY. We get it! You help spirits! Always and forever, you’re a white hat and you’re really cute and sweet and have an endless wonder closet that makes sure you never wear the same thing twice.
Medium (or Moyen, as I am sometimes wont to call it) at least challenges its lead actress. Sometimes, her visions are more foretelling the future or seeing the past than they are talking to dead people. And the folks she encounters in the spiritual realm, well, sometimes they’re not very nice. And sometimes, when she thinks they’re spirits, they’re really just bad people and her subconcious is trying to tell her that. I find that shows like this are sometimes better when they leave it up to your imagination. Is she really psychic or is it something else entirely? Was the person she was talking to dead? A figment of her imagination? A serial killer? A witch? A dead, serial-killing witch? One may never know. In certain episodes, you get the feeling that the ending wasn’t the happy one for everyone involved.
Recently, Kyle Gallner and Jim True-Frost guest starred on Medium as younger and older versions of a disturbed boy who once had a crush on Arquette’s character, Allison. Talk about your brilliant casting and guest stars. Gallner caught everyone’s notice as the scared and scarred emo little rich boy Cassidy “Beaver” Cassablancas on Season 2 of Veronica Mars. You shouldn’t like him after everything he does to make you hate him, but somehow, you have sympathy for him. If Fametracker was what it used to be, I’d submit Gallner to Hey! It’s That Guy! as “Hey! It’s that damaged, sensitive, manipulative teenager.” Those are the types of roles he seems to get. Jim True-Frost plays detective-turned-teacher Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski to perfection on The Wire. He’s done a lot of theatre work and co-starred with the former Mrs. McDreamy, Kate Walsh, in a particularly striking episode of The Wire’s sister show, Homicide: Life on the Streets. Kelsey Grammer produces the show and he also had a memorable guest-starring turn on Medium as a slimey scammer Allison thought was Capital D Death.
The guest stars on Ghost Whisperer are less good, but my (perhaps misguided) love for Professor Jay Mohr makes up for that. Sort of. If he, Jim (Melinda’s husband on Ghost Whisperer) and Joe (Sigh. Joe.) were to join forces with, ooooh, say, Jeff Goldblum, who’s entered the fray of people who see dead people — sort of — in NBC’s Raines, then I wouldn’t complain. It’d be like a new version of Ghost Busters. With hot guys. No offense Bill Murray.
And this has nothing to do with anything above, but I thoroughly enjoyed Ed Begley Jr.’s too-short stint as the crusty Dean of students at Hearst College on Veronica Mars. And I am very pleased to see him going head-to-head with everyone’s least-favourite red headed lizard-face CSI, Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami commercials. I hope he’s the bad guy and I hope he wins. I can’t explain my vitriol, but my fellow blogger Jess_D_Ripper bought me a hideously hilarious Christmas present. The CSI: Miami “novel” Cult Following, by Donn Cortez. No offense, Mr. Cortez, because your source material is pretty crappy to begin with, but the first line “Lightning flashed across the sky like paparazzi chasing angels.” was terrible and it only got worse from there. Damn you, Horatio! You even invade my enjoyment of the written word!