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Despite lousy name ‘Ghost Whisperer’ is a solid effort

Ghost Whisperer

8 out of 10
Ghost Whisperer
(CBS, Fridays 8/7c p.m.)
{NO SPOILERS}

Premise: Young married woman sees dead people and helps them cross over to the other side.

OK, before I start this review, I have a few things I must come clean with: I am not a Jennifer Love Hewitt fan, I think the title of this show is stupid and I think the premise is tired and subject to devolving into smarmy cliche after a few episodes. Also, I have been known to make snide comments about this show before it began, calling it “Touched by a Medium” and such.

But despite all of that, I actually liked the new CBS series Ghost Whisperer enough to recommend it (and added it to my TiVo season pass at least until Stargate:SG1 comes back with original episodes in January). Because as a light fantasy show, it works.

The premise is a little too familiar as psychic woman sees dead people while her family and friends cope with the consequences. Sounds an awful lot like Medium, right? Yep. It does.

The show then throws in big heaping helping of Touched by an Angel and a smattering of Dead Like Me all in a guest-star-of-the-week format.

That format is fairly predictable. Each episode starts with some sort of crisis where Hewitt’s character meets a ghost. Hijinks ensue before an inevitable conflict. Then it all ends with a “touching” Hallmark moment. Ugh.

It is suprising when you consider how much I was ready to hate this series that upon watching Ghost Whisperer, I was pleasantly surprised. The show is good despite itself. I blame the writers and directors for this.

The cast

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays psychic “Melinda Gordon.” She pulls off the role well enough. She is s competent actress – although kinda goofy looking in a prematurely aging, but endearing way.

(It’s been a decade since she became the resident pin-up girl from the FOX teen soap opera Party of Five. I have to tell you, that I never understood why she was considered a great beauty of the mid-1990s. Sure at the time, she fulfilled any girl-chasing teenage boy’s requirements: clear skin, thin waist and huge breasts. But now, at age 26, as Hewitt’s two biggest assets are starting to sag, her other physical flaws are intensified. She has a pinched nose, gigantic ears and the beginnings of major sun damage to her once flawless skin.)

Melinda’s husband, “Jim Clancy,” a paramedic, is played by a young-looking 38-year-old David Conrad (Wedding Crashers, Boston Public, Roswell). It’s always nice to have a paramedic husband around to help a ghost-whispering psychic deal with those near-death revival experiences, right? Conrad plays his role as the understanding hubby well.

The stand-out performance is by actress Aisha Tyler (CSI, Friends, Talk Soup) as “Andrea Moreno.” In what could have been a throw-away smart-mouthed minority sidekick part, Tyler fully inhabits her role; easily moving from drama to comedy within the same scene. Her one-liners are inspired. She should be the star of this show.

Resembling a younger Vanessa L. Williams (former Miss America), when it comes to the eye candy factor. Hewitt pales in comparison to Tyler. Add in her acting talents (which are many), if there is any justice in the universe, Aisha Tyler will be a household name in a few years.


RATINGS
Overall: 8 out of 10
V-Chip Rating: TV-PG
Genre: Fantasy
Sex: Adult situations.
Violence: Minimal.
Special Effects: Fair.
Eye Candy: Everyone is attractive, but the guest stars and cast regular Aisha Tyler win in this category.

CAST
Jennifer Love Hewitt … Melinda Gordon
David Conrad … Jim Clancy
Aisha Tyler … Andrea Moreno

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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