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HTF DVD REVIEW: Medium: The Fifth Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
    Reviewer

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    Matt Hough
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    Medium: The Fifth Season

    Directed by Larry Teng et al

    Studio: CBS/Paramount
    Year: 2009
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
    Running Time: 809 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 stereo surround English
    Subtitles: CC

    MSRP: $ 60.90

    Release Date: October 6, 2009

    Review Date: October 3, 2009


    The Series
    4/5

    Once again, NBC treated one of its series treasures like castoff costume jewelry as Medium was relegated to being off the air for months at a time and then inserted into the network’s lineup as a fill-in for a quickly canceled series. As it always had done for the network, it brought a loyal, consistently above average-sized audience to the network only to be awarded with a cancellation notice at the end of its fifth season. Wisely, CBS, which actually produces the show, snatched it up and placed it appropriately following the similarly themed Ghost Whisperer on Friday nights which should give the series its best chance to shine in many a year.

    The fifth season of the show found life a little more settled for the Dubois family. Allison (Patricia Arquette) was once again working for the district attorney’s (Miguel Sandoval) office. Husband Joe (Jake Weber) was running his own company which was working on a viable, practical implementation of the solar panel technology he had developed during the previous season. With serious money worries temporarily offset, Allison’s children could live more or less ordinary lives though with their mother’s psychic abilities inbred in them, they, too, shared in some scary adventures during season five.

    Primary among Allison’s stories this season were three which found her either possessed by the spirit of the dead (an especially troubling story involved a possible hit and run accident, a severed hand, and hours of unaccountable time for Allison) or switching consciousness with another person and living through him (Jeffrey Tambor in a treasurable performance as Allison). There was a very scary episode suggesting a nuclear meltdown, a two part episode with a deranged stalker nearly killing Allison and then having his ghost play with her dreams, and a three part story in which Allison quits the D.A.’s office to take a lucrative position with a high tech firm only to find the strings attached to her job description especially hard to comply with.

    Once again this season, some of the most entertaining recurring characters from previous seasons were not repeated this season. Thus, there are no stories with Captain Push of the Texas Rangers, insane butcher Dr. Charles Walker, nor Allison’s psychic brother Michael. We do get to see Joe’s deceased father (Bruce Gray) visiting the family again, and the return of the always wily and insidious FBI agent Edward Cooper (Kurtwood Smith) makes for a lively episode. Also returning this season for a single story is the haunting Cynthia Keener (Anjelica Huston) who went to prison at the end of her story arc last season and who figures importantly in a cold case Allison heats up again. Among other guest stars who make notably effective appearances this season are Blythe Danner, David Morse, Tracy Pollan, Balthazar Getty, Rumer Willis, and Allyce Beasley.

    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. The portrayal of the family dynamic in this series is perhaps the strongest and most believable in all of television. Miguel Sandoval and David Cubitt do outstanding work as respectively the district attorney and the detective who assists Allison in investigating cases, though the writers often must make these two character a bit too disbelieving in the psychic’s abilities for comfort. After five 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 episodes from season five of Medium contained on the set’s five discs:

    1 – Soul Survivor
    2 – Things to Do in Phoenix When You’re Dead
    3 – A Person of Interest
    4 – …About Last Night
    5 – A Taste of Her Own Medicine
    6 – Apocalypse…Now?
    7 – A Necessary Evil
    8 – Truth Be Told
    9 – All in the Family
    10 – Then…and Again
    11 – The Devil Inside (Part 1)
    12 – The Devil Inside (Part 2)
    13 – How to Make a Killing in Big Business (Parts 1 & 2)
    14 – How to Make a Killing in Big Business (Part 3)
    15 – The Man in the Mirror
    16 – The First Bite Is the Deepest
    17 – The Talented Ms. Boddicker
    18 – Bring Me the Head of Oswald Castillo




    Video Quality
    3.5/5

    The show is framed at 1.78:1 and these transfers are anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Color values and flesh tones are beautifully delivered in these programs, but sharpness is the irregular quantity here. The season premiere episode is singularly soft, but other episodes convey excellent sharpness and good fine object detail. Most episodes have a mixture of sharp and soft imagery that is occasionally frustrating. Each episode has been divided into 8 chapters.


    Audio Quality
    3.5/5

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track offers a pleasing surround envelopment with music being the main source of surround effects. Occasionally some ambient sounds get passed through the soundstage, but the audio mix could be much more sophisticated here. The Dolby 2.0 stereo surround track differs little from the 5.1 mix other than seeming to be a bit louder.


    Special Features
    3/5

    All of the bonus featurettes in the set are presented in anamorphic widescreen.

    “Script to Screen: ‘Apocalypse…Now?’” is an 8-minute behind-the-scenes look at the filming of episode #6 featuring the debut of Larry Teng as director.

    “Curious Maria” finds “middle daughter” Maria Lark taking the viewer through a tour of the offices of behind-the-scenes personnel interviewing them for a school assignment. This little video project lasts 10 ¼ minutes.

    “The Making of Medium: Season 5” is a nice 27 ¼-minute overview of the season spotlighting memorable episodes and hearing from a host of executive producers, directors, and actors who participated in the episodes that are featured.

    “Jake and Patricia: Q & A” has actor Jake Weber playing Charlie Rose and asking series star Patricia Arquette a series of questions about her career and her work on five years of Medium. Though it’s good natured and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, there is some good background information imparted in this entertaining 23-minute featurette.


    In Conclusion
    4/5 (not an average)

    The fifth season of Medium saw the series coming to an end on NBC with hopefully a new, brighter future of appreciation on CBS. The box set of episodes pretty much parallels previous series releases for this show, and fans should be pleased with the above average quality of the transfers and some fun bonus features. Recommended!


    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC

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