DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: Medium: The Sixth Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Medium: The Sixth Season
    Directed by David Arquette et al

    Studio:
    CBS/Paramount
    Year: 2009-2010
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
    Running Time: 955 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 stereo surround English
    Subtitles: SDH

    MSRP:  $ 57.99
     
    Release Date: October 5, 2010

    Review Date: October 18, 2010 



    The Series

    4.5/5


    After NBC foolishly canceled one of its most consistently produced and faithfully viewed series, Medium was quickly snapped up by its producing network CBS and placed in a Friday night timeslot where it flourished for its sixth season. Not only did the series fit nicely with its running mates on the network on that night, it often was CBS’ highest rated program on that night. Surprisingly for a series in its sixth year, the writers found ways to keep the series fresh and interesting utilizing the show’s masterful blend of mystery procedural with believably engrossing family drama unmatched by any other series on network television. In many ways, the sixth season of Medium was its best season yet.


    Season six begins with Allison’s (Patricia Arquette) slow but methodical recovery from a brain tumor operation and stroke which happened after the conclusion of season five. Though her right side is partially paralyzed and she’s fearful her psychic gift has been lost due to her health issues from the previous season, she does begin to experience flashes of future events as her gift slowly returns to her. Unfortunately, she learns in an early episode that the doctor who saved her life is actually a mercy killer as she fights valiantly to stop his playing the role of God in the lives of his patients. There are other problems in the Dubois household. Hubby Joe (Jake Weber) is out of work, his solar panel company having been sold at the end of the previous season. What’s more, once he finds work, it is under an eccentric engineer (Joel David Moore) who treats everyone on staff as mere dirt under his feet. Now that all three of the Dubois daughters are older, they’re much more involved in almost all of the storylines during the season and sometimes carry them (Sofia Vassilieva’s Ariel figures in several major plots this season including a scary possession episode, and there is more to do for Maria Lark and Miranda/Madison Carabello as the two younger children as well).


    Once again this season, some of the most entertaining recurring characters from previous seasons were not repeated. Thus, there are no stories with Captain Push (Arliss Howard) of the Texas Rangers, insane butcher Dr. Charles Walker (Mark Sheppard), nor Allison’s psychic brother Michael (Ryan Hurst, now a regular on Sons of Anarchy). We do get to see Joe’s deceased father (Bruce Gray) visiting the family again in a couple of episodes, but that’s the extent of characters we have seen in previous seasons. Among other guest stars who make notably effective appearances this season are Fisher Stevens, Oded Fehr, Joe Maganiello, Matt Letscher, Beth Grant, William Schallert, Cathy Baker, Mitch Pileggi, Jonathan Silverman, and Roma Maffia.


    Emmy winner Patricia Arquette is once again at the forefront of the season as Allison. Her dogged, tenacious fight for justice for victims or potential victims is never less than compelling. Jake Weber makes a completely believable and supportive husband for Allison, himself a near-genius engineer who nevertheless struggles with four females in the family who have abilities that often drive him to distraction, and a late season episode flashing back to his and Allison’s wedding shows him coping with her eccentric gift from the beginning. Miguel Sandoval and especially David Cubitt do fine work as respectively the district attorney and the detective who assists Allison in investigating cases, though the writers often must make these two characters a bit too disbelieving for comfort about their friend/psychic’s abilities. After all these years of watching Allison accomplish the near-impossible, perhaps it’s time they stop with the skepticism and just go with the flow.


    Here are the twenty-two episodes from season six of the show as arranged on the five discs in this set:


    1 – Déjà vu All Over Again

    2 – Who’s That Girl

    3 – Pain Killer

    4 – The Medium Is the Message

    5 – Baby Fever

    6 – Bite Me

    7 – New Terrain

    8 – Once in a Lifetime

    9 – The Future’s So Bright

    10 – You Give Me Fever

    11 – An Everlasting Love

    12 – Dear Dad. . .

    13 – Psych

    14 – Will the Real Fred Rovick Please Stand Up

    15 – How to Beat a Bad Guy

    16 – Allison Rolen Got Married

    17 – There Will Be Blood…Type A

    18 – There Will Be Blood…Type B

    19 – Sal

    20 – Time Keeps on Slipping

    21 – Dead Meat

    22 – It’s a Wonderful Death



    Video Quality

    4/5


    The program is presented on CBS at 1080i with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and these 480p downconverted transfers look on the whole very pleasing. Color saturation and flesh tone accuracy are exemplary, and while sharpness isn’t always optimum, most of the time it’s excellent. There are minor distractions with occasional moiré and aliasing, but these artifacts aren’t prominent. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    3.5/5


    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is not exploited for optimum effectiveness especially since many of the episodes contain genuinely frightening/disturbing imagery and a stronger, more enveloping soundtrack could enhance the experience. As it stands, music is the main surround presence in the mix, and while dialogue is well recorded and placed properly in the center channel, more use of the surrounds with Foley effects for ambiance would kick the audio score up a notch or two.



    Special Features

    3/5


    “The 100th episode of Medium: A Celebration” is a throwaway featurette with too brief interviews with major cast and crew about reaching this important milestone. The anamorphic widescreen featurette runs 3 ¾ minutes.


    “Zombies on the Loose: The Making of ‘Bite Me’” explains briefly how footage from Night of the Living Dead was used in fashioning an episode where characters from the show were morphed into the existing footage. Producer/creator Glenn Gordon Caron describes his idea and its germination for years before this episode was produced. The anamorphic feature runs 7 ½ minutes.


    “The Mind Behind Medium finds star Patricia Arquette interviewing creator/producer Glenn Gordan Caron. He talks about his career leading up to the show including early writing credits, his work on Moonlighting, and his feature film career. This interesting anamorphic mini-biography runs 30 ¾ minutes.


    “The Music of Medium introduces us to composer Sean Callery who talks about his methodology for scoring the series and shows him working on some episodes with input from the producers’ team. It runs 7 ¼ minutes in anamorphic widescreen.


    “Non-Fat Double Mediumfeatures twins Miranda and Madison Carabello who together play youngest daughter Marie in some behind-the-scenes shots of the girls at work and play. It runs 6 minutes in anamorphic widescreen.


    The first disc features trailers for the CBS procedurals, Charmed, and The United States of Tara.



    In Conclusion

    4/5 (not an average)


    Still one of the most original and entertaining series on television, Medium continues to be highly entertaining in this season six set of wonderfully imaginative episodes. Some fun bonus features complete a package which I can certainly recommend.




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Keith I

    Keith I FoS

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    Great review and I agree on its assessment here. Somehow it's not surprising that the show has been canceled, but from what I read, the show will have a great ending.


    I have a question about the packaging. Paramount seems to use different and varying types of packaging so when I received my copy from an online seller, I was a little surprised. Gone are the separate slimpacks, replaced with a thicker keepcase that holds four discs (two overlapping on each side) with a swinging tray in the middle to hold the fifth disc. Is this what everyone else has? The episode summaries are printed on the inside cover sleeve so it has to be removed to be read.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    The show's cancellation has everything to do with its time placement this season, I think. Medium is not an 8 p.m. show, and even in that time spot, it usually won the time period, just with lower ratings than its fellow CBS series on later. I'll be curious to see what kinds of ratings other shows that CBS puts in that spot will generate once Medium is no more.


    Yes, I got the swing tray in my review copy if I'm remembering correctly.
     

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