Medium: The Fourth Season
Directed by David Arquette et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 682 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 surround English
MSRP: $ 61.99
Release Date: September 9, 2008
Review Date: September 4, 2008
Once again, NBC called on Medium in a time of crisis, and it once again came through for them. As had been planned the previous season as well, NBC was going to use Medium to fill an open Sunday night slot after the NFL football season ended. However, due to the writers’ strike, NBC needed fresh, unaired series product on nights other than Sunday and decided to run Medium in its old Monday night slot where it drew very healthy ratings in the winter and spring. Alas, once the season was over, NBC again decided to bench the series until midseason.
The end of season three found Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette) and her family’s world torn asunder. She had been outed as a psychic by a newspaper reporter who failed to heed Allison’s warnings and was killed for trusting a murderer. Her boss D.A. Manuel Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) had been forced out of office, and the new D.A. wanted Allison as far away from him as possible. Husband Joe (Jake Weber) had lost his job and has no prospects for a new one, so the family is living on Joe’s unemployment and whatever work Allison can find using her special gifts. She’s aided for the first half of the season by Cynthia Keener (Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston), an investigator with Ameritips, an organization that helps track down runaway and kidnapped children. Duvalos also comes back to town and begins a private law practice utilizing Allison whenever he can. Initially avoiding her like the plague is homicide detective Lee Scanlon (David Cubitt) though after a few successful cases due once again to Allison‘s amazing abilities, he realizes what a great team he and Allison make. (After all these years, it does get very tiresome that Scanlon and Devalos EVER question her powers. It often seems like their dubiousness is inserted merely to provide conflict in the story. After so many successful cases, it’s ludicrous for them to doubt her now.)
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. Joe’s frustrating job search throughout the season is the center of several episodes during the year, especially a four episode arc that features Kelly Preston as a woman interested in marketing one of Joe’s ideas. Anjelica Huston’s no-nonsense, insultingly abrupt character certainly turns heads in the season’s first half and ends her story arc in a very strong, poignant story of search and sacrifice.
I was most surprised that season four didn‘t bring back any of the recurring characters from Allison‘s world who have turned up in each of the previous three seasons. Well, Joe‘s deceased father (Bruce Gray) does occasionally pop up to advise Allison on trouble brewing, and one episode featured the return of killer FBI agent Edward Cooper (Kurtwood Smith), but otherwise, we don‘t see Allison‘s brother Michael, Captain Push of the Texas Rangers, or serial killer Charles Walker. All of them are much missed despite the season featuring a strong set of mysteries for Allison to solve.
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 the list of sixteen episodes from season four contained on four discs:
1 - And Then
2 - But for the Grace of God
3 - To Have and to Hold
4 - Do You Hear What I Hear
5 - Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble
6 - Aftertaste
7 - Burn Baby Burn (Part 1)
8 - Burn Baby Burn (Part 2)
9 - Wicked Game (Part 1)
10 - Wicked Game (Part 2)
11 - Lady Killer
12 - Partners in Crime
13 - A Cure for What Ails You
14 - Car Trouble
15 - Being Joey Carmichael
16 - Drowned World
The program is broadcast on NBC in 1080i, and these down converted 480p 1.78:1 transfers can look very good. Unfortunately, sharpness is the occasional weak link for the transfers as color depth, flesh tones, black levels, and shadow detail are all first rate. Each episode has been divided into 8 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix does not exploit the surrounds for nearly their full potential in this occasionally unsettling and other-worldly show. Dialog is strongly delivered to the front channel, and music and sound effects certainly play a part, but compared to something like the sound design of Ghost Whisperer (which goes for a somewhat similar tone), these audio mixes are adequate but nothing special.
Deleted scenes are available for nine of the sixteen episodes from this season. The viewer has the choice to play them with commentary from creator-producer Glenn Gordon Caron and producer Larry Teng or without. These constitute the only commentaries associated with the episodes this season.
“Joe’s Crayon Dream” is a 6 ¼-minute featurette on the making of a special effects sequence involving Joe and family in a child’s animated world. It’s presented in 4:3 with clips from the show in nonanamorphic widescreen.
“Introducing Cynthia Keener” spends 9 minutes in 4:3 with the cast and executives of the show raving about the participation of Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston in the first half of the season. She also gives an interview explaining why she chose to do a television show and how shooting it is different from making films.
“The Making of Medium, Season 4” finds many cast principals, producers, and writers talking about each episode in this strike-shortened season. The 4:3 featurette runs 21 ½ minutes and contains quite a few spoilers so it‘s appropriately placed on disc four in the set.
The set includes a 7 ¼-minute gag reel, longer and somewhat funnier than these things usually are.
There are previews for Ghost Whisperer, Dexter, Twin Peaks, and the CSI franchise.
Medium had a very good, very effective fourth season on the air, and this DVD release will be especially welcomed by fans of the show. Too bad NBC hasn’t yet seemed to fully appreciate what it has and thus show the program some of the respect for its creativity that it deserves.