Medium Returns With Nine New Episodes

Medium is back! Hoorah! And not just because scripted narratives have become such precious, precious commodities with the writers' strike on. Nope, this has always been one of the most intriguing shows on prime time, and it seems like it's been off the air for ages. But now it's back on NBC, back on Monday night at 10pm Eastern, where it belongs.

Alas we're only going to get nine episodes -- only eight more now, after last night's season premiere -- unless the WGA strike is resolved soon. But I'll take what I can get. I've been missing Allison and Joe and the kids something fierce. I actually enjoy the family dynamic a lot more than the mystery side of the stories: the DuBoises of Phoenix are just about the most down-to-earth family on television, and Allison and Joe's marriage is one of the most realistic depictions of that institution the boob tube has ever seen. And their relationship will be tested to new limits this season, with both of them out of work and under pressure from the now public knowledge of Allison's strange gifts.

Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber spoke to journalists the other day about the upcoming episodes, and about their on screen marriage:

Weber: From my perspective the stuff that is interesting is the familial relations. So the more conflict that exists in my relationship with Allison, the more there is to do and the more there is to grow the relationship, and to challenge the relationship.

Arquette: The strength of our show is the marital relationship and the real reality of that family: how much it echoes other Americans' experience. Now we have the chance to show the struggle of when people are out of work, how quickly that affects you. Like most families they don't really have much of a nest egg, and suddenly they find themselves both out of work. I think it's difficult for Joe's character because he's used to being the big bread winner of our family. So it definitely brings a lot of stress into the marriage.

Weber: He handles it with long sufferance as all men handle challenges in family life. He's a pretty cool cucumber. He tends to ride the highs low and the lows high, which is admirable. But he is definitely challenged in this year. His identity as a man is challenged, as a provider. His relationship with his wife is challenged radically because there are practical considerations that if you look at she is not being responsible about. And yeah, there's a real hard time for him.

Arquette: It's important that the children are sort of everpresent. Even if they're not in the scene, their backpacks are everywhere. The kids are growing and changing. And their experiences of life and their own abilities are changing... [Ariel, the eldest daughter,] becomes like a little fortune teller for kids at school.

The major change to Medium this season is the addition of Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston to the cast for six episodes as an investigator with Ameritips, a crime hotline, who comes to rely on Allison's insights for her own work and -- if last night's season premiere was any indication -- may have her own shady motives behind the partnership, too.

Arquette: I've always been such a big fan of hers and I was so grateful that she did us this honor to come on our show. I'd met her before, but I still was kind of shy and slightly embarrassed, because coming from the film world, the way television works is so non-conducive to doing the best kind of work you can. I felt sort of apologetic about how quickly you have to move and how little time you have to explore things. I felt guilty in some way.

[Her character] comes along at a time where I continue having these dreams. That doesn't stop just because I no longer work for the District Attorney. However, whenever I try to call people or tell them about a dream, I'm such a persona non grata that I can't really do anything with my information. She steps in and sort of gives me an outlet for it, a safe place to put it and help solve crimes. She's also sort of a dark character. She's a little bit mercenary.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

MaryAnn Johanson (email me)

reviews, reviews, reviews! at FlickFilosopher.com