Medium

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
THE VISION THING Huston, left, exploits Arquette's gift.
THE VISION THING Huston, left, exploits Arquette’s gift.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Although Medium is consistently the most creative of the current mystery-of-the-week shows, creator Glenn Gordon Caron’s drama about psychic supermom Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette) has been written off by some as a Matlock for under-50s. In the fourth season, Caron fights that rep by raising the stakes for Allison and her husband, Joe (Jake Weber), an aerospace engineer. Both lost their jobs in last year’s season finale, in which a reporter (Neve Campbell) published an exposé of Allison’s consulting gig with the Phoenix DA. NBC’s decision to hold the series until January makes it one of the network’s few fresh scripted programs on a reality-heavy winter schedule, and the timing puts Medium in an ideal position to gain fans among viewers who haven’t given it a fair shake.

In the first episodes, Anjelica Huston plays Cynthia Keener, a private investigator who offers to pay Allison for precognitive tips that the detective can use to burnish her own reputation. It’s clear to the audience that everything is not what it seems with Cynthia, but Allison is ironically oblivious. The mystery surrounding Cynthia’s true agenda has the makings of a solid long-term story arc, but Caron and his collaborators haven’t forsaken the series’s bread and butter: compelling (and disturbing) self-contained stories that hinge on clever plot twists. In the January 14 installment, Allison’s daughter Ariel (Sofia Vassilieva), who has inherited her mother’s gift, has dreams in which she befriends her mom in high school 20 years ago, à la Marty McFly. Such tropes were a Caron specialty on Moonlighting, but here the underlying mystery is intriguing enough to keep the conceit from seeming gimmicky. Medium’s storytelling can be old-fashioned at times, but any series able to pull that off is clearly too vital to dismiss.

—Andrew Johnston

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