Monday, 22 November 2010


This wednesday marks the last episode ever of GHOST WHISPERER on Living TV. This marks the end of the fifth season of the show centred around an antiques store owner who also has the ability to see the dead and tries to get them to deal with their baggage and thus make their way into the light.

MEDIUM is a very similarly themed show in which a mother has dreams about the dead, allowing her to work out who killed them and thus allowing them to rest in peace. MEDIUM however is still going strong in its seventh season.  What has this show got that GHOST WHISPERER was missing?

Starting with what they both have in common, both star well known actresses in central roles with strong characterisations. Both have stable marriages with supportive husbands and both deal with an afterlife, giving people hope that death isn't the end. Both solve mysteries about how people died.

MEDIUM, though is much darker than GHOST WHISPERER. Dealing with murder and other serious crimes all the time, it delves into the darker side of life much more than its rival. It also doesn't always have a happy ending, something that cannot be said for GHOST WHISPERER. The ironclad template for a GHOST WHISPERER episode always ended with the loved ones of the ghost getting together for a quick cry and hug and sending the ghost into the light. Quite often MEDIUM offers up endings in which the heroine doesn't win, the guilty aren't punished or their punishment comes at a heavy cost. This acerbic edge cuts through the hideously saccharin nature of GHOST WHISPERER in which life is perfect and death is only a quickl group session away from being equally perfect.

The set up of the MEDIUM family group is also much more realistic than that portrayed in GHOST WHISPERER. The family there is chaotic and noisy and often there is conflict that is resolved in messy, but recognisably real ways. The husband struggles with his wife's gift rather than blithely accepts that ghosts exist and his loved one should put herself at risk to sort out the afterlife.

MEDIUM also plays around with its format much more than GHOST WHISPERER which was ruled by a template that was so rigid that it felt like only the names and occupations of the minor characters were changed from week to week. Familiarity does indeed breed contempt.

GHOST WHISPERER was loved by enough people to make it through five successful seasons, but it seems that the more realistic, darker, edgier and violent MEDIUM is what more people want  more of the time.

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