“ Genre: Television - Medium / Suitable for 15 years and over / Actors: Patricia Arquette, David Cubitt, Jake Weber, Miguel Sandoval, Sofia Vassilieva ... / DVD released 2009-06-15 at Paramount Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL „
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For all intents and purposes Season 4 of a long running TV show is often the peak. To a cynical person like me this means that the only way is down and that if this is going to be as good as it gets, it better be brilliant. Why do so many shows start to flounder from Season 4 onwards? A lot of the time the stories have pretty much been told, characters have developed and elements begin to repeat. You also start to find restless actors whose 5 season contract is up soon; they can either haggle for a huge pay off in future episodes, or feel that they have outgrown the show and can move on. As I watched Season 4 of 'Medium' I began to realise that not all is doom and gloom - at least the show got to reach its peak.
Season 3 saw a massive shake up for Allison Dubois and family as the press outed her role as a psychic investigator for the State's Attorney. This revelation led to both her and her boss losing their jobs. Meanwhile husband Joe was struggling at work after surviving a hostage situation and he left under a cloud. With no money coming in and three children to feed Allison and Joe are hitting rock bottom. Can they work together to turn things around and avoid the glare of the media? Alison still feels the need to help others, whilst Joe has an idea that could make them rich.
Season 1-3 of 'Medium' was an excellent set of crime mysteries with a supernatural twist. Allison has the ability to dream elements of the future and/or past that help to reveal killers etc. The formula worked well, but by episode 60+ it did feel like a formula. Therefore, for the creators to shake things up in Season 4 is a brilliant idea, and one that worked wonderfully. Season 4 is more about hardships and Allison getting by with scraps of work. Despite her pariah status the show continues to be a hard hitting crime drama as she finds ways to integrate herself into investigations. At no point does her involvement in cases feel contrived; this is a sign of great writing.
In fact, the entire show is underpinned by some of the best writing on US TV. This is not a hard hitting drama like 'The Wire', but in terms of an entertainment show I believe the standard is almost as good. The relationship of the Dubois family is fantastic and feels incredibly real. Allison and Joe often have their conversations propped up in bed before they go to sleep, and the everyday problems of having three daughters intermingle with the more dramatic elements.
Added to this great character development are some of the most intelligent and original ideas for individual episodes. You never know what to expect from the show as Allison's powers are able to give it a sprinkle of the supernatural, without making it actually feel anything like science fiction. For a show all about family it has a brilliantly dark edge. Murders are shown, innocents killed, maniacs set loose. The show has some disturbing images and scenes that make the love amongst the family even more powerful.
In terms of acting the cast are all well established and do a great job. Patricia Arquette is once more reserved, but believable, as a mother and psychic. The banter between her and Jack Weber, who plays her husband, is one of the highlight of the show. With Joe losing his job and setting out alone Weber gets more to do this year and for the better. The children are once more fun and believable. Perhaps the biggest coup of the series is Anjelica Huston's repeat guest appearance as Private Investigator Cynthia Keener. Huston is a great actress and she brings her talent with her.
Is Season 4 the best so far for 'Medium'? I would have to say yes as all the elements that made the previous three so good are still present, but with the added drama of a family crisis. With around 80 episodes now available I am impressed at how the writers are able to keep the shocks coming with innovative new ways of using Allison's powers. For me, this is not a science fiction show, but a crime drama with a slight twist. For this reason I would recommend it to anyone and not just genre fans. Even if you do not like the supernatural elements the strong stories and brilliant family interplay will make the show great fun to watch.
Starring: Patricia Arquette, Jake Weber et al.
Price: Amazon uk £12.98
There are no extras on the discs that I can think of, but £13 for an entire season is a bargain anyway!