Emmy's new breed: Medium
|Best episode: “Coming Soon,” in which Reed Diamond plays a good Samaritan with a chilling secret — he’ll one day become a serial killer.
Most complex character: The easy answer would be Alison, but in many ways she’s the most straightforward. Perhaps it’s her husband, Joe, a rocket scientist trying to rationalize her experiences, or her wise-beyond-her-years middle child who’s seen dead people, too.
What should happen next season: “Alison’s really the only person who could answer that, but she’s not here,” says Caron.
Some people squirm when they’re around supposed psychics, but Patricia Arquette’s portrayal of real-life psychic Alison Dubois on NBC’s “Medium” gives the character a homey presence. She’s the woman down the street who just happens to see dead people and whose dreams come true.
“There’s a certain modesty to the show, a certain lived-in feeling that stands out because some shows have become so slick in terms of production,” says “Medium” creator Glenn Gordon Caron, who also exec produced “Moonlighting.” “Here’s a show where everybody walks around in their underwear.”
Caron jokes that if he had his way, 90% of the show would have characters in bathrobes or underwear. Simple things like that help ground the series in reality. “I said we should never walk into a room where the bed is made. We should always hear the kids screaming. The dishwasher should be going in the background. You should feel a presence and a sense of life in this show about a woman whose radio is always tuned to death.”
In fact, it was the stereotype-defying Dubois who inspired the show. “She was sort of young, hip and studying for her law degree with dreams of becoming a judge. She had three kids with a husband who was an aerospace engineer. She really did not fit the profile of somebody we’d commonly think of as psychic, someone on latenight TV with an 800 number,” Caron says.
Arquette’s portrayal of a shlumpy Dubois is entirely by design. Neither the actress nor exec producer felt someone who could see into peoples’ souls would spend too much time worrying about her hair. “I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage on Patricia’s part,” Caron says. “She’s really embraced that idea. You don’t get a sense that Alison’s a terribly vain person who spends a lot of time looking into a mirror.”
Although Arquette’s character helps solve crimes, Caron insists “Medium” is not a crime show. “In a television universe glutted with procedurals, this show sort of flies in the face of them. It’s character-driven,” he says.
“The crimes, while important, are incidental to the story. The stories are largely personal and have to do with Alison — less to do with her being a psychic than with her being different.”