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HTF DVD Review: Medium - The Third Season

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

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Posted October 09 2007 - 01:32 AM

Medium - The Third Season
Directed by Oz Scott et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 2006-2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 938 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $54.99

Release Date: October 16, 2007
Review Date: October 9, 2007

The Series


NBC’s Medium had an extremely topsy-turvy year. No, not in quality of its scripts which remained mostly inventive and compelling (though the writers did make a major change to the series in the final episodes). No, NBC threw the series to the lions in a number of ways. Initially the idea was to hold it back for presentation in midseason after the NFL football season was over. However, due to the quick cancellation of Kidnapped on Wednesday night at 10, NBC needed a quick fix, so Medium’s season debut was rushed forward by almost three months premiering in November opposite CBS‘ powerhouse CSI: NY. The special two-hour season premiere that creator-producer Glenn Gordon Caron was preparing had all of three weeks to get ready for air, and the episode was tricky relying on elaborate animated sequences which had to be completed in record time. The producers admit in one of the commentaries that they felt they were playing catch-up all season long due to this early season premiere that caught everyone connected with the show unaware.

For most of the season, the premise remained as it had always been. Psychic Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette) assists the Phoenix district attorney’s office with her ability to interpret dreams and see though people’s lies. Most episodes involve visions of Allison’s which initially make no sense to her (or us) but whose meanings become clear as the episode progresses, and in the process, she can assist in solving crimes or preventing people from being injured. We also continued to investigate her home life with husband Joe and her three children, each of whom exhibits psychic traits inherited from her mother’s side of the family.

Producer Caron also intended season three to begin deeper explorations into the lives and personalities of the officials Allison deals with, particularly D.A. Manuel Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) and police detective Lee Scanlon (David Cubitt). And while the majority of the episodes still revolved around Allison and her family, we did indeed see more of Devalos and Scanlon away from work.

Emmy winner Patricia Arquette continues to dazzle as Allison, and her driven nature to seek out the truth and 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. Weber’s Joe also goes through a highly traumatic story arc in the second half of the season that has ramifications in all of the season’s remaining episodes.

Though season three produced no awe-inspiring 3-D episode as the previous season had done, there were more than enough fireworks to be seen including visits to Allison from a long ago boy friend (played by Arquette’s real-life husband Thomas Jane), another visit from lethal serial doctor Charles Walker (Mark Sheppard), another folksy, intense visit from Captain Push (Arliss Howard) of the Texas Rangers, a return trip to Phoenix for her psychic brother Michael (Ryan Hurst), and the first real friend (Neve Campbell) Allison has developed during the series whom she eventually reveals her powers to, a decision that will be felt for the remainder of the series’ life.

Through it all, Medium continues to be among the most creative, unusual, and surprising series on television. If one can buy into the premise of a psychic who’s not a charlatan, Medium can be a terrifically addictive experience.

Here is a listing of the episodes in season three as spread over six discs. An asterisk (*) marks those episodes which feature commentary tracks with the participants in parentheses. A number in brackets beside the episode title indicates the number of deleted scenes available for viewing for that episode.

*1 - Four Dreams: Part I (Glenn Gordon Caron, Larry Teng)
*2 - Four Dreams: Part II (Aaron Lipstadt, Javier Grillo-Marxuach)
3 - Be Kind, Rewind
4 - Blood Relations [2]
5 - Ghost in the Machine
6 - Profiles in Terror [1]
7 - Mother’s Little Helper
8 - The Whole Truth
9 - Better Off Dead
10 - Very Merry Maggie [2]
11 - Apocalypse, Push [2]
12 - The One Behind the Wheel
13 - Second Opinion [1]
14 - We Had a Dream
15 - The Boy Next Door [1]
*16 - Whatever Possessed You (Miguel Sandoval, Jessica Kender)
17 - Joe Day Afternoon
18 - 1-900-LUCKY
19 - No One to Watch Over Me
20 - Head Games [4]
21 - Heads Will Roll
22 - Everything Comes to a Head

Video Quality


The series is broadcast on NBC in 1080i, and this 480p down conversion transfer looks very clean and solid. Sharpness is usually very good (though occasional close-ups of Arquette seem a bit soft, perhaps on purpose), and color is rich and fully saturated. The series uses shadows particularly well and has excellent black levels. Each episode has been divided into 8 chapters.

Audio Quality


The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound serves the dramatic tension of the series well, but the rears aren’t exploited nearly enough. For a show that gains much of its power from the creepy “things that go bump in the night,” the sound design could be much more imaginative.

Special Features


Three audio commentaries are available for the episodes marked in the list above. The first which features creator-producer Glenn Gordon Caron is by far the worst with long stretches of silence and with him and his partner struggling to find something to talk about. All of the remaining two commentaries are excellent with lively conversations between participants and much behind-the-scenes information about the episode being offered.

The deleted scenes offered for selected episodes (see list above) provide no vital information, and their omission is easily understood. In some cases, it’s not en entire deleted scene but merely a line or two from an aired scene that has been cut.

Once again, CBS/Paramount has filmed all of the bonus material in 4:3 and film clips are always nonanamorphic letterbox. It seems a very odd decision when the series itself is presented with anamorphic encoding in this set.

“Drawing on Dreams” is a 6½-minute feature on the use of animation in the season premiere episodes. We see the rough sketches, the line drawings, the clean-up, and finished work all done with a stylus and computer touch pad rather than using standard pencil and paper animation.

“Directing with David Arquette” spends 5 minutes with David Arquette, brother of the series star, who directed “1-900-LUCKY” which happened to be about Alison’s brother. He discusses working on the series and working with his sister on a sibling-based episode.

“Acting Is My Racquet” is a 7½-minute fluff piece about actor Miguel Sandoval’s obsessions with racquet sports off set (tennis, ping pong, badminton).

“The Story of Medium, Season 3” presents an excellent overview of the entire season showing story arcs involving all of the major characters. This featurette runs 19½ minutes.

“The Making of Medium, Season 3” details the intense work of the special effects and art departments on the show to bring the many fantasy elements from season three to life. It runs 25 minutes.

Disc six also provides a gag reel of about 7 minutes with not so funny screw-ups, mostly involving forgotten lines.

There are also the usual trailers advertising the recently available DVD sets for Twin Peaks, Dexter, Ghost Whisperer, and all three CSI programs.

In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

Medium ranks as one of the most unusual and entertaining mysteries currently on broadcast television. If you can suspend your disbelief and let Alison‘s powers take you over, you’re in for some quite thrilling adventures with the Dubois family. This 6-disc DVD set does the series proud.

Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   John Carr

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Posted October 11 2007 - 04:47 AM

Matt, an excellent review! After purchasing Season I, I let go of this series, but you've revived my interest. I'll be picking up both Season II and III the next time they're on sale.


#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Keith I

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Posted October 15 2007 - 05:54 PM

I love the inventiveness they use to tell their stories. Sometimes the dream sequences can be tedious but they are always entertaining.

By the way, the box cover image at the top of the review is for Season 2.

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   Pete Battista

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Posted October 15 2007 - 09:19 PM

Thanks for the review... is one of my favorite shows... will definitely be picking it up. Posted Image

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted October 16 2007 - 01:26 AM

Originally Posted by Keith I
I love the inventiveness they use to tell their stories. Sometimes the dream sequences can be tedious but they are always entertaining.

By the way, the box cover image at the top of the review is for Season 2.

Thanks, Keith. The error has been corrected.