Psychic drama Medium is heading into its sixth season, a crucial time when a series has the potential to wear out its welcome or go off the rails with too many new “twists”. Medium has the additional challenge of being moved to a different time slot–on a different network. While the lead-in from similarly themed Ghost Whisperer could prove to be a bonus for Medium, only time will tell how good a dreaded Friday night slot will work out.
Medium has always been one of my favorite TV shows. The combination of police procedural, realistic family dynamic, and supernatural elements makes Medium a complex and suspenseful drama. Medium specializes in character development, giving extensive back-story to each of the main players while letting us delve into the emotions and motivations of the killers and victims Allison Dubois sees in her dreams.
Can this formula continue to work? Can the writers of Medium keep viewers interested for another one, two, or five more seasons? If they consider three very important elements, I think they can.
The first element is to stop focusing so much on Allison (Patricia Arquette). I know this sounds counterintuitive, being that the show is titled Medium, and centers on her skills in communicating with the deceased. The thing is, a big part of the show’s appeal is the drama and satisfaction of solving a crime and catching a killer. We like seeing Allison as a proactive member of the team that includes the police and DA’s office. We love it when she outsmarts the bad guys, leaving them staring in shock and disbelief as she reveals facts that no one could possibly know.
What happened this past season was that a lot of the focus of Medium turned from helping people and solving crimes to Allison having some sort of a huge personal crisis. In episode 3, “A Person of Interest”, she became possessed by strong compulsions and began building a bomb in the garage. In episode 4, “…About Last Night”, Allison woke up under a viaduct with memory loss–and eventually began to believe she was the perpetrator in a hit and run accident.
The saga continued in episode 10, “Then…and again”, where Allison appeared to time travel to 2004. The two-parter that followed, “Devil Inside”, had Allison hunted by a fanatic in both life and death–to such an extent that he began altering her dreams to give her false information. In the Medium finale, “Bring Me the Head of Oswaldo Castillo”, Allison battled a brain tumor and a horrific vision that showed the brutal murder of her family.
On their own, these were fine episodes. “Devil Inside”, in fact, has to be one of the most chilling storylines on Medium ever. Grouped together, however, it gets a bit tiring to see Allison in these life-altering situations week after week. We start to wonder why her husband Joe (Jake Weber) can even stay married to someone who is so unstable that she has to be constantly monitored.