24 September 2005 | flatrich
More than just a pretty face
I liked Ghost Whisperer. I don't know how long it will last, but who can tell nowadays. (I figured Joan of Arcadia for a seven year run.)
At least Jennifer Love Hewitt is back and she's not reprising Party of Five this time. She's chasing ghosts, which allows her to do everything she does well except sing. (She has a great voice. Started out singing in Texas at age 3. Maybe she'll meet a singing ghost somewhere along the way.)
So it's Ghost Whisperer on CBS versus Medium on NBC and that may rankle Medium fans but Medium is on a different night and seems to be slowing down this season. I always tape Medium because it usually puts me to sleep in the last half-hour, despite the admirable talents of Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber and their wonderful TV kids Sofia Vassilieva and Maria Lark.
It isn't Jennifer Love Hewitt versus Patricia Arquette in any case. These two actresses are as different as night and day in look, style and approach. Both total pros and completely capable of leading a series.
I didn't like the Medium rip-off scene where a prophetic nightmare wakes Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) in bed with her husband (David Conrad), but once you get past the obvious similarities GW goes way beyond Medium. Melinda doesn't depend on dreams. She sees ghosts everywhere, all the time. (The bedroom in Medium is that show's main set.)
Ghost Whisperer is no Dead Zone and it's not jumping on the post-X-Files backlash bandwagon like Supernatural either. It's more Touched By An Angel (a similarity that Dead Zone exec producer Michael Piller specifically instructs his writers to avoid.)
The Ghost Whisperer pilot did center entirely on Hewitt, but it's her show, after all. I wondered if they cut stuff out for time. References to what her husband does for a living were rather obviously thrown in as voiceovers until they briefly discussed his day as a paramedic, rather than showing him in action somewhere in the beginning to establish him.
I liked that producer Hewitt pulled in character actors Eddie Jones (ex-Pa Kent from Lois & Clark, the Invisible Man's boss, etc) and Jon Polito and also Wentworth Miller (from Prison Break) as guest stars. (And was that June Lockhart as Melinda's grandma? Sure looked like her.) Wentworth Miller reminds me so much of Steve McQueen that I'm hooked on Prison Break, despite the limited nature of that plot line. And the scene where guest Balthazar Getty (as Michael Adams) told Melinda off was terrific.
Anyway, there's no denying that Hewitt is beautiful and maturing as an actress. She has a great, expressive face. (I admit that the whole show could be shot in close ups and I'd probably still like it.) Modern former child actors like Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Seth Green knock me out because they always seem to know exactly what they're doing. They don't just stand around waiting while other actors deliver their lines. They're always "on".
But Hewitt is more than just a pretty face. (She could have been a Charmed One after Shannen Doherty left, but turned down the role.) I say let's see what happens with Ghost Whisperer. It may just be the surprise hit of the season.