Medium-Complete Third Season (2007)

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Released 9-Jul-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Deleted Scenes-Scenes on 5 of the 6 discs : (22:05)
Featurette-Drawing a Dream (07:04) : Animation in opening episodes.
Featurette-Directing with David Arquette (05:30) : On set interviews.
Featurette-Acting is my Racquet (08:05) : Cast and crew at play.
Featurette-Making Of-The Story of Medium Season 3 (19:55) : Evolving characters.
Featurette-Making Of- Medium Season 3 (25:19) : SFX in season's episodes.
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Gag Reel (07:01)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 903:12 (Case: 901)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Aaron Lipstadt
Vince Misiano
Peter Werner
Ronald L. Schwary
Studio
Distributor
CBS
Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Patricia Arquette
Jake Weber
Miguel Sandoval
David Cubitt
Sofia Vassilieva
Maria Lark
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $59.95 Music Sean Callery
Jeff Beal


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
French
German
Italian
Norwegian
Spanish
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Opening teaser

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


The 2005 television season in the United States introduced audiences to Medium, a series which capitalised on the public's growing fascination with psychic powers, and the individuals who claim to have those powers. The show became a hit series , winning for its female star the Emmy as Best Actress in a Drama Series, and has recently completed its fourth season in the US. Paramount Home Entertainment have just locally released, in a six DVD set, all twenty-two episodes of Season Three, a season which sees this already excellent series get even better.

If there is anyone who still doesn't know, Medium is concerned with Allison Dubois, a real life psychic who serves as adviser to the series. Using information which came to her in her dreams, the real life Allison began unofficially assisting the office of the Phoenix District Attorney to solve crimes, and ultimately earned herself an official position in the D.A's office. The plot of each episode of the series is a combination of three separate strands, the paranormal through Allison's dreams, the crime which is to be solved by the D.A's office, and the family life in the DuBois household. Although each episode is focussed strongly on the crime under consideration, the emotional strength of the series comes from the depiction of the Dubois family household, headed by Allison and her husband Joe. It would appear that the show's creator, Glenn Gordon Caron, has the magic touch when it comes to creating on-screen couples, as he was the man behind Moonlighting, which gave us the unforgettable chemistry of Cybill Shepard and Bruce Willis. In their own, very different way, Mr and Mrs Joe DuBois are just as memorable.

Playing Allison Dubois is Patricia Arquette, a third generation actor and one of the four formidable Arquette siblings, the other three being Rosanna (Crash), David (Scream) and Alexis (The Wedding Singer). Patricia Arquette makes this character the most realistic mother on television. Totally natural in teeth, hair, makeup, voice and clothing, Allison Dubois always looks what she is, a working mother - her job just happens to be a little different. Evidently when it became obvious that the show had clicked with audiences, network heads wanted Miss Arquette to smarten herself up a little - losing some weight was the top requirement. To her enormous credit - and wisdom - the actress refused, and in Season Three she continues to be the most realistically presented "pushing 40" woman on television - and totally beautiful. She also happens to be an exceptional actress, and possesses one of those wonderfully husky about-to-break voices that can put an interesting twist into every sentence - reminiscent, for those who are old enough top remember, of the great Barbara Bel Geddes. I have over the space of just a few days watched every episode in this season - a few more than once - and am astounded by her performance. Possibly the most outstanding example is in The One Behind the Wheel, in which Allison is possessed by the spirit of a dead woman and the actress, without any change in make-up, hair or wardrobe, becomes this other woman. This is a great actress, bringing to mind another actress of warmth, wit and intelligence, Simone Signoret.

As the husband, Joe, we have Jake Weber (Dawn of the Dead), a fine actor who, in partnership with Miss Arquette, creates the most believable couple on screen - large or small. Whether it is in the intimate bedroom scenes, frequently very sexy and funny, in kitchen banter, or family crisis, this is a committed, loving couple, faced with the everyday problems of any household. Impressive from the beginning of the series, Season Three season gives Weber more opportunities and challenges and he proves himself a formidable talent. Harking back to The One Behind the Wheel again, Joe's profound loss and then relief when his wife "returns" is very moving indeed. Late in the season Dog Day Afternoon thrusts Joe into the middle of a hostage situation, with Adam Goldberg as a disgruntled sacked ex-employee of the aeronautical company where Joe also works. This episode packs an enormous dramatic wallop and Weber is excellent. This is the best hostage drama I have seen for years. Rounding out the family are the three daughters, the eldest being Ariel (Sofia Vassilieva), followed by Bridgette (Maria Lark) and the youngest Marie, played by twins Madison and Miranda Carabello , the senior two proving again that there seems to be no end to the prodigious talent of young actors in Hollywood. The burgeoning psychic powers of the offspring is emerging in more episodes, adding greatly to the teenaged angst of Ariel which is high-lighted in Mother's Little Helper, an episode which includes an excellent homage to Carrie. This episode also makes powerful use of the split screen, showing the two dreams of mother and daughter, parallel in time but from two different perspectives. This is a smart series.

So we have the five members of the Dubois household, and for me the highlights of each episode come in the domestic scenes depicting their totally natural interaction. These people even wash their dishes in the kitchen sink! Brilliant examples of this domesticity come in Be Kind, Rewind, which has Allison reliving the same breakfast scene over and over, but each time with slight variations, her frustration building until the totally exasperated mother finally erupts in a hysterical, and wonderfully funny, tirade. This show is simply brilliantly written - from its concept, to the development of situations through to the individual lines of dialogue. The combination of the three elements - the crime, the paranormal and the family - is inspired, never more so than in the episode previously referred to, The One Behind the Wheel. Here we have the chestnut of the husband wanting to murder his wife to be with his lover. Taking a basic but devious scheme for murder, which I'm sure I saw many years ago on Raymond Burr's Perry Mason, the writers of Medium have woven in Allison's psychic powers and then extended this to the impact upon the DuBois household. The result is a cohesive, brilliant forty minutes which culminates in an emotional fadeout that lingers in the mind.


The supporting cast is also excellent, headed by Miguel Sandoval as D.A.Manuel Devalos and David Cubitt as Detective Lee Scanlon. Manuel Devalos is such a complex, sympathetic character that it is really satisfying to be learning more about him and to finally meet his wife (Roxanne Hart). We see Manuel dealing with health problems (Four Dreams), the murder of his oldest friend (Whatever Possessed You) and coming to terms with the suicide of his daughter (Very Merry Maggie). Initially scornful of Allison and her dreams, Scanlon is now cynically accepting of these abilities and we occasionally get glimpses of his troubled marriage. The focus, however, is always on the DuBois family, the paranormal and the crime.


This show does not need "guests", but occasionally we do get one. Thomas Jane (Stephen King's The Mist), Miss Arquette's talented, hunky and sexy spouse, kicks the season off as Clay Bick, Allison's high school boyfriend whose ghost presents masculine competition for Joe. In one great line of dialogue Miss Arquette blares at the amorous but unwanted ghost : "Go find a light and walk into it!" Then there is Peri Gilpin (Frasier's "Roz") as Allison's flash-back mother in The Boy Next Door, which has the most chilling "Aha!" moment as its climax, Eric Stoltz, sinister in We Had a Dream, Margo Martindale (The Riches, Dexter) pops up (Blood Relations), Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show) is chilling in Profiles in Terror, and in the season finale we have Neve Campbell (The Company) and Jason Priestley (Love and Death on Long Island). This is a particularly grisly and gruesome triple-header (Sorry!) regarding a murderer - "The Recapitator" - who plays daisy chain with the heads of his victims, placing the head from the first victim on the body of the second, the head of the second on the body of the third, and so on. Medium can become pretty macabre.

All production values are near faultless on Medium. My only minor complaint is the continual use of hand-held cameras. I understand the logic, but I don't like them. More acceptable in the chaotic breakfast scenes, as five characters are covered in a small kitchen, in smaller two-handed scenes I am occasionally bothered by the constant movement. Every other aspect of the show is exemplary. The cartoon sequences in Four Dreams are excellent, shocking and terrifying. It is totally unnerving to watch cartoon characters murder other cartoon characters - even mothers and babies! The animated primary colours are then carried over into the real-life sets of the show. This standard of production is seen in every aspect of the show.

For three seasons Medium has proved itself as one of, if not the, best continuing weekly drama series on television. It is not a requirement to have seen the first two seasons, as Season Three stands securely alone. If you don't know Medium, do yourself a favour and get acquainted with the world of Allison DuBois.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video transfer on each of the six discs is excellent.

The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

The transfer is extremely clean and clear throughout. Close-ups are brilliant, with the slightest crease on Patricia Arquette's face razor sharp.

Shadow detail is excellent in the numerous dark sequences.
There is no low level noise.
Photographed on Kodak film, the colour is excellent, subdued in dream sequences and strong, rich and vibrant elsewhere.
With the incredibly high standard of this show the image ranges from the brilliantly bright kitchen breakfast scenes to dimly lit bedrooms and restaurants - with a strong Douglas Sirk look at times.
There is no noticeable grain.
Skin tones are excellent.
There were no MPEG artefacts noted, and there were no film artefacts.

The English Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired were sampled and found to be accurate.

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Each disc is dual layer, with no layer changes occurring within episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The audio is excellent, though without the dynamism of a theatrical feature.
There are five audio streams on these discs :
English Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps; and
German, Spanish, French and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kbps.



The dialogue was always totally natural and intelligible.
There were no drop-outs and no sync problems.
There is virtually no movement across the fronts, with all dialogue centred.
Front directionality occurs rarely, reserved mainly for action sequences.
For the animated sequences in the opening double episode Four Dreams, the surround sound is great. All channels going full bore, including the sub-woofer.
The music in the series is excellent, particularly the appropriately eerie and exciting opening theme - written by Michael Danna - sounding very impressive - and reminiscent of the great Bernard Herrmann - using all surround channels.
All other music, whether smartly selected catalogue pieces or Sean Callery's original score, is well recorded and reproduced. Callery's music runs the gamut, from creepy and scary, to humorous and some truly delicate interludes, as in Better Off Dead, as two ghosts attempt to find rest and peace..



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The information below basically applies to all six discs with any exceptions noted.
All extras are presented 1.78:1 in 4x3 transfers without enhancement, utilising Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded audio @ 192 Kbps.
Hopefully a future season will contain more information about the real Allison DuBois.

Menu

The Main Menu is presented with full animation using Rorschach-like ink blots.
The options presented are : Play All
Individual episode titles
Audio Options : German, English, Spanish, French and Italian.
Subtitles : In addition to English Descriptive Titles for the Hearing Impaired, we have Danish, German, English, Spanish, French,
Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish.


Deleted Scenes (22:05)
These are spread over five of the discs - none on Disc 5 - and range in length from less than 30 seconds to almost 5 minutes (Head Games).


Featurette : Drawing a Dream (07:04)
Found on Disc 1, this is a fascinating insight into the creation of the clever animated sequences for the season's opening double-header Four Dreams.

Featurette : Directing with David Arquette (05:30)
This one is on Disc 5. As an outcome of his directing achievement on the movie The Tripper, the star's brother, David Arquette, directed one episode, the dramatically lighter 1-900-LUCKY. What we get are apparently nice people saying nice things about an apparently nice guy. For those smitten with Miss Arquette, such as this reviewer, worth its disc space to see these rare glimpses of the actress with her brother.

Featurette : Acting Is My Racquet (08:05)
On Disc 5 again, this is an enjoyable piece of nonsense about actor Miguel Sandoval's obsession with any game featuring a racquet - tennis, ping-pong and badminton. He has a particular passion for the word "shuttlecock". Taking part are crew members and others from the cast, with competitive involvement from David Cubitt.

Featurette : The Story of Medium : Season 3 (19:55)
On Disc 6, this is a most interesting discussion of the evolving characters in Season 3, with the psychic powers of the daughters coming a little more to the fore, the wife of D.A. Devalos involved dramatically and Joe DuBois' increasing isolation as the "normal" sole male amongst four psychic females. A fun bit about Jake Weber's mental confusion in the season opener, having him play a husband who is jealous of the ghost of his wife's ex-boy friend who is being played by the actress's real-life husband - that's Thomas Jane. The featurette leaves us whetting our appetite for Season 4.

Featurette : The Making of Medium : Season 3 (25:19)
Again on Disc 6, this is a terrific little documentary about the creation of special effects for the season's episodes. Eight episodes are used, and to give details would possibly "spoil" those episodes. Revealing, on set physical demonstrations of the work and, though on a small scale, one of the best of its kind I've seen.

Gag Reel : Season 3 (07:01)
Seven enjoyable minutes of genuine "goofs". The best is first, as young Maria Lark battles with the difficult name of Bridgette's Math teacher.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 4 release misses out on a commentary track on three episodes.

Summary

A show for all seasons, this is the best drama series currently on television. Superbly crafted scripts, great actors and technical expertise. It's real, dramatic, at times scary, often funny, never insults its audience - and has a heart. Beautiful transfers of a show to watch over and over again.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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