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HTF DVD REVIEW: Ghost Whisperer: The Third Season

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#1 of 2 Matt Hough

Matt Hough

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Posted August 30 2008 - 03:24 PM


Ghost Whisperer: The Third Season
Directed by Ian Sander et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 2007-2008
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 796 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 surround English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 63.98

Release Date: September 2, 2008
Review Date: August 30, 2008


The Series

3.5/5

Part supernatural thriller, part mystery series, and part sentimental reunion drama, CBS’ Ghost Whisperer manages to take those disparate genres and merge them into an enjoyable and sometimes heartrending entertainment. I was late coming to the party on this one joining the fold in the middle of its second season, but I’ve found the show reliably entertaining if not always top of the heap.

Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) can see spirits who are intensely troubled and unable to cross over into the light. With the help of her devoted husband Jim (David Conrad) and Professor of Paranormal Psychology and the Occult Rick Payne (Jay Mohr) of Rockland University, Melinda ferrets out the conditions behind the anger or confusion of the miserable souls in crisis and usually assists the families in accepting that their deceased loved ones are at peace.

Season three featured one season-long story arc involving an underground city on which the present town of Grandview was built and paralleled that with an on-going story of Melinda‘s own path to self-realization about her family. In the underground, angry, threatening, and malevolent ghosts promise mayhem galore despite Melinda’s trying to act as mediator, and disturbing continual encounters with her father‘s spirit promise additional pain to come for her personally. Otherwise, most of the episodes are closed-ended and follow the familiar formula of Melinda’s trying to understand the ghost’s manifested difficulties before assisting it and those left behind in taking the next step toward reconciliation with the inevitable.

Jennifer Love Hewitt does a sterling job convincing us of the reality of these phantoms, and though the costume designers and make-up teams often adorn her in get-ups too formal and grand for an antique shop owner‘s everyday life, there is no question of the sincerity of her performance. David Conrad is given more to do this season as Melinda’s loving husband, a paramedic who has decided to pursue a career as a doctor, a decision that may make changes to their lifestyle down the road. Camryn Manheim was added to the cast in season two as a real estate agent who also helps Melinda run her antique store and who has a built-in aversion to belief in the paranormal. Though it’s nice to have a female friend for Melinda, Manheim’s importance to the series so far has been minimal. Jay Mohr as the sarcastic college professor/mentor to Melinda has figured importantly in several key episodes, but Mohr is headlining his own series next season and will only participate sporadically next year on the show. Anne Archer begins and ends the season as Melinda’s secretive mother.

Here’s the line-up of eighteen series episodes from the third season as contained on these five discs. Names in parentheses indicate participants in the audio commentaries for those episodes.

1 - The Underneath (John Gray, James Chressanthis)
2 - Don’t Try This at Home
3 - Haunted Hero (my favorite episode of the season)
4 - No Safe Place
5 - Weight of What Was (P.K. Simonds)
6 - Double Exposure
7 - Unhappy Medium
8 - Bad Blood
9 - All Ghosts Lead to Grandview
10 - Holiday Spirit (a poignant Christmas-themed episode)
11 - Slam
12 - First Do No Harm
13 - Home But Not Alone
14 - The Gravesitter
15 - Horror Show
16 - Deadbeat Dads
17 - Stranglehold
18 - Pater Familias


Video Quality

4/5

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 DVD transfers are down converted from CBS’ original 1080i broadcasts. The video quality is often quite striking with usually excellent sharpness and an accurate color palate. Occasionally softness creeps into the image, and once or twice the color does edge toward over saturation. Flesh tones, though, are very impressive, and the well delivered black levels and shadow detail aid in making the spooky elements of the series work well. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.

Audio Quality

4.5/5

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is one of the finest currently delivered on network television. The audio has been designed with a wide soundscape where the music and great use of the surrounds for ambient sounds like creaks, dripping water, footsteps, and echoes enhance the ghostly experience beautifully. The title sequence alone features one of the best uses of the available sound channels currently on display on a TV-sized budget.

Special Features

3.5/5

Two episodes contain an audio commentary. Though writer-producer P.K. Simonds tends to describe too much of what we’re seeing on screen, he does talk for the entire episode and makes for a better commentary than John Gray and James Chressanthis’ off-and-on discussion for the season premiere.

A Ghost Whisperer animated short features Jim and Melinda in a comic strip-style story that lasts 2 minutes and is in nonanamorphic letterbox.

“Welcome to the Underworld” is pretty much the overview for season three with the producers discussing the reinvention of the Grandview underground as the big motif for the season promising information about the city’s past and Melinda’s past being revealed during the course of the year. The production designer gives us a tour of the sets built specifically for these underground stories, and the head of special effects discusses the CGI used to make the underground come to life. The anamorphic feature lasts 12 ¾ minutes.

The Other Side II webisodes is a series of eight internet installments telling a story of young ghost Zack who’s on his way to find Melinda and instead finds himself in a dead end alley and under attack by malevolent spirits. Viewed together, the feature lasts 21 ¾ minutes, but the viewer can choose to view the webisodes separately.

2 interactive games are included in the package, one involving placing creepy things around a graveyard and animating them and the other a game trying to unlock a random code to gain entry to Melinda’s house.

“Bringing the Spirits to Life” is an 11 ½ minute anamorphic featurette discussing the eight days of preparation time the producers have to accomplish the ghostly effects work for each episode.

“Payne’s World” finds co-star Jay Mohr answering a series of questions about his character on the show. This anamorphic featurette runs 7 minutes and features quite a few clips from Season 2 rather than Season 3.

“Evolution of Melinda” is a throwaway 45-second montage of the various hair styles and outfits that star Jennifer Love Hewitt has worn playing Melinda for three seasons.

“Melinda’s Haunted Diary” is another interactive feature where the user can select to hear narrated pages from Melinda’s diary during three specific periods of her life: high school, college, and married life with Jim.

The disc offers previews of other Paramount series including Twin Peaks, Dexter, Charmed, and the CSI franchise.


In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)

An often tremendously touching and sometimes scary journey into a paranormal world, Ghost Whisperer honed its strengths very well in its third season. The box offers some interesting bonuses for fans and transfers that feature excellent video and audio quality.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 2 Pete Battista

Pete Battista

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Posted August 31 2008 - 05:17 AM

This is one I will definitely be getting. One of my favorite series.





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