Judge Ryan Keefer has met some whispering ghosts. But with such foul language, let's hope they don't kiss their mothers with those mouths. D'oh, guess that's not a problem.
Our review of Ghost Whisperer: The First Season, published November 8th, 2006, is also available.
The dead are alive.
This second season is full of emotionally-charged ghosts with compelling unfinished business whose crossing over often provokes the waterworks.
Facts of the Case
Once again, please rise and listen to the words of the honorable Mrs. Keefer, or else she'll beat me up for not giving her high praise. Seriously.
I recall a certain Punk'd episode from a few years ago featuring a humorously anxious Jennifer Love Hewitt desperately looking for another role. But all that desperation paid off. She not only got another job, but along with her character's lingerie, the role seems tailor made for her.
On the CBS network, Ghost Whisperer has its target audience all set in stone. Let's be honest, if you're reading this, you're probably female. It's cool, I'm like-gendered and all for the girl power, and hey, I'll be the first one lining up to eat the crumbs out of the hands of the show's producers. Because dammit, it's addictive.
You've got the women who want to be Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Garfield), who long for a supernatural gift, women who want to be friends with her, and others who want to assume her body from the waist up. And I won't even talk about her husband, Jim (David Conrad, Wedding Crashers), who gets named in all the fan mail as the world's greatest husband.
Melinda can see and talk to earthbound spirits who haven't yet crossed over (to heaven or the like) because of their strong desire to talk to a loved one, to right a wrong, to apologize, etc. She helps the ghosts communicate with the living which frees them from earth. Jim, an EMT by occupation keeps her grounded and supports her while she simultaneously deals with the dead and tries to run an antique shop in the fictional town of Grandview. This season introduces two new cast members, Delia (Camryn Manheim, Scary Movie 3), a widow who is unaware of Melinda's ghostly talent, but helps out in the store, and the surprising Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire) as Professor Payne, Melinda's go-to guy for help in historical aspects of the supernatural.
With shows that are based on the supernatural, it's easy to fall into the habit of doing the freak-of-the-week show forgetting a larger storyline. Fortunately, the producers of Ghost Whisperer know this and in this second season created a ballast to Melinda's always positive outlook on ghosts and their journey. Welcome Gabriel (Ignacio Serricchio, States of Grace), the fella who can also speak to the dead. His introduction brings a welcome realization that there is much to learn about the souls who don't cross over, the ones that decide that the fire sale the guy downstairs is having gives them a better deal. Gabriel's entrance also coincides with the very ominous storyline that after five signs shown to Melinda, some sort of tragedy will occur.
Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of ghosts in these 22 episodes that need help and have nothing to do with the larger storyline, but they're on the periphery. You're here to know what happens to Melinda. Or maybe you don't care, which seems unlikely. Either way, here are some of the spoiler-free highlights:
The introduction of Jay Mohr as Professor Payne to the season. This is talked about in nearly all of the commentaries found in this season because he is the anti-drama. You can have a moment of pure emotion and he says something to screw it all up, but he's loved for that. He was only supposed to be a guest star for one episode, but the producers liked him so much because his chemistry with Melinda is palpable, and the flirtation between the two is just almost there, and then it's gone.
"The Night We Met," shows us the night Jim and Melinda met, with him taking her to a hot dog stand and calling it the umbrella room. This episode occurs on the anniversary of that night with a tearful ending, but in a good way.
"The Curse of the Ninth," for only one reason—the music. Supposedly some of the songs are by Midnight Hour, though I've never heard of them.
The reactions of both Professor Payne and Delia when Melinda tells them her secret in "Cat's Claw" and "Delia's First Ghost," respectively. You really never know what is going to happen when you tell someone you can see ghosts. Ultimately, her gift is there to help people whether you can grasp the mechanics of it or not.
The idea of reincarnation in "Deja Boo," which showcases how stable a relationship Jim and Melinda have.
Along the lines of the show's delving into the dark side, "The Cradle Will Rock," is a great example of a ghost who has a different agenda, putting Melinda's life at risk despite her help.
In the two-part season finale, kids from various tragedies around the world are drawn together, each with their own piece of the larger puzzle Melinda is trying to solve. If you want goosebumps, check out the chalk drawings the Italian kid does.
There are a few extras, but their quality is the concern. There are four episode commentaries, all done by producers or directors. Honestly, they all repeat a lot of information—for example, Ian Sander, a producer for the show tells us a few times that the Town Square of Grandview was also the set for Back to the Future. He also lets us in on a little secret (several times), that Jim and Melinda's house was also the home of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. One new thing that Kim Moses, producer and director (and also Ian Sander's wife) offers an actual interesting tidbit; David Conrad is making a cookbook.
Also included is a crystal ball mind game that can be skipped. I know the way the game works is simple, but the solution eludes me and for that, I say skip it. "A Conversation with the Living" is a 24-minute piece with the cast and crew comparing the first and second seasons with the ultimate consensus that they like this season better than the first. "Ghostly Visions" is a 10-minute look at the makeup for the ghosts—hey, they don't like any color in their faces. Duh. "Grandview Graveyard" is a cheaply put together piece on various characters (six to be exact) who have crossed over. Click on a tombstone and watch a three-minute summary of their character while the actor talks about the role. "Melinda's Closet" for me was the most interesting extra because Melinda's clothes are so unique, okay, sometimes too unique (strange), but here are some astounding facts from this piece; the clothing designer buys $60-80k worth of clothes a week, returns maybe $40-50k, and 30-40% of Melinda's clothes are custom made. Also, the actual "closet" is more like the top level of a single family home and holds on average half a million dollars worth of clothing.
"The Other Side" is the title for the web series for the show. You've got eight of these webisodes that are about three minutes each. They can all be skipped—the acting is poor and the production budget must be less than a ream of paper. In odd news, the other featurette is a speed painting video done of Jennifer Love Hewitt. The digital product is insane considering the production time (a sped-up four minutes) though it would have been cooler if it wasn't done on Microsoft Paint. How about an actual canvas?
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Let's start with a minor problem: the discs are mislabeled. A commentary listed on one episode is actually for another episode.
I know this show is on CBS and the production budget is probably used more for special effects (and maybe clothing) than you know, enforcing continuity, but there are at least three times in this show that I've seen Melinda's trademark red Jeep switched out for any red, boxy looking SUV. This blatant interruption of the scene brings me out of the pleasurable state that Ghost Whisperer usually puts me in.
Some of the guest star choices are questionable. I know everyone likes to be nice, but when Ian Sander in one of the commentaries talks about how great an actress Mary J. Blige was in a guest star role, I could have ridden his nose to the top of Mount Everest as if he were Pinocchio. She is a great singer, but her acting was stiff and she delivered her lines rigidly.
There is definitely chemistry with this cast that you don't often see with other series. The show's producers refer to Jennifer Love Hewitt as "Love" and that's what she brings to this show. Her ability to display emotions should have made her a shoe-in for a great show and the desperation seen in Punk'd was unnecessary. Despite the quality of the extras, I'd pick up this set if you call yourself a "collector." Ha, see, that's one of the episode titles—"The Collector."
Not guilty, assuming there are no more surprise musical guest stars who can't act. Wait, that's all of them.
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Scales of Justice
• "Conversation with the Living" Featurette
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