Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Medium Has a Message: Watch Your Back

“For what it’s worth, she’s happy.” Alison Dubois, played by Patricia Arquette, says this to the pedophile she’s trying to help convict in the pilot episode of “Medium,” a new TV series based on the belief that our fate after we die is to be John Ashcroft’s wet dream of a 24-hour surveillance system on the living.

The happy girl is not the victim of the pedophile, it’s his sister, and we are to presume he loved her because her joyous post-death scene showed her lying belly down on her old bed listening to the Hansen album he had bought her back in the days of corporeal reality. And, apparently, her enjoyment of this gift from her brother was not tempered by the fact that in the very house she haunts, he raped and murdered a six-year-old boy.

“Medium” is a muddled mess, one which wants desperately to be thought of as artistic – you can always spot the aspirations when a show is televised in the letterbox format – but which doesn’t really have anything it wants to say deeper than follow your dreams, even if those dreams tend to be nightmarish scenarios of real-life murders from around the country. Arquette can’t seem to decide how she wants to play her part, though the decision seems to have been made for her that she should only take her frustrations out on her husband, Joe, played by Jake Weber. His role rang a lot more true to me, as he slipped back and forth between trying to be supportive and feeling put upon by his wife’s super powers.

Dubois spends most of the pilot trying to convince a Texas Ranger with an army of SUV-driving underlings with no necessary role except to look imposing in long shots that she knows where the missing boy’s body is buried. Once she does convince him, the decision is made to avoid digging it up because apparently you need a search warrant for such a thing, though I’m assuming they had one earlier when they sent the dogs roaming all over the same area. But, because Dubois doesn’t have weather forecasting powers, and apparently the Rangers don’t have the Weather Channel, nobody realizes a huge hurricane will wash everything away early the next morning, removing the evidence needed to keep the bad guy in jail.

Not to worry, though, because Dubois meets with the pedophile, and talks to the dead guys who hang around him. There’s the guy who molested this kid a few years ago, and the guy who molested that guy, and the guy who molested that guy, and so on ad infinitum. One of these dead molesters apparently feels sheepish enough to help Dubois out, and tells her that the kid had told everything to the guy in the cell next door. Then, it’s just a matter of tricking that felon into telling what he knows, and somehow the word of a presumably convicted criminal is enough to put our pedophile away for life, even without any other evidence.

But, I don’t really want to talk about what “Medium” is trying to do so much as what it does accomplish. It’s set-up is the ultimate fantasy of those who don’t believe in civil liberties. The world is full of bad people, very bad people, getting away with horrible things, and we need more control over them. Ashcroft wanted to set up a network of neighborhood spies all over the country, rewarding neighbors for reporting suspicious activity. He never thought of enlisting all the spirits who obviously wander the earth, just looking for the right Volvo-driving housewife/law intern to tell what’s happening under everybody else’s nose. At the very end of the pilot, when Dubois is telling her family she’s been hired part time by the law firm which now recognizes her special gift, she mentions she’s going to be used on special cases and to help with jury selection. So, the dead will make sure that juries will side with the lawyer for whom she works? That should weed out the bleeding heart liberals once and for all.

2 Comments:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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