×

Crossing Over With John Edward

John Edward sees dead people. And he makes a darn good living at it. "Crossing Over With John Edward," in which the friendly psychic communicates with those on the "other side," has been a huge success for the Sci-Fi Channel, and it's about to explode as the most anticipated show on the national syndication calendar.

This review was corrected on Aug. 27, 2001.

John Edward sees dead people. And he makes a darn good living at it. “Crossing Over With John Edward,” in which the friendly psychic communicates with those on the “other side,” has been a huge success for the Sci-Fi Channel, and it’s about to explode as the most anticipated show on the national syndication calendar. Whether this show is taken literally — and, apparently, lots of people do — or as a kind of high-end snake oil infomercial, there’s nothing more bizarrely fascinating or fascinatingly bizarre on television.

In each episode, Edward stands before his “gallery,” set up in a semi-circular grandstand, and begins channeling bits and pieces of information — letters of names, birthdates, any number of small details about a person’s death, etc. — until he finds an audience member who says: “That’s my…” (fill in the blank — father, mother, child, spouse, sibling, best friend, etc.). Edward then shoots off a rapid-fire litany of other material about the dead person who’s “coming through,” with the audience member asked to “validate” the communication. Usually, the audience member is either crying at this point or staring in a stunned awe. Both are equally entertaining.

It’s the audience that this show is really about, and that’s what makes it so unexpectedly gripping. People come onto the show hoping to “connect” with someone. Their needs are deep, highly emotional and universal. The comparison to “The Sixth Sense” can be informative, helping us understand the show’s commercial appeal and elucidating what it’s actually doing. The Haley Joel Osment character in that blockbuster pic helped the dead come to terms with their passing so they could move on. “Crossing Over,” on the other hand, is always much more about the living than about the dead.

Edward is a therapist extraordinaire, helping to heal grief by letting people know their dead loved ones are still “with them.” For entertainment’s sake, it doesn’t really matter whether viewers believe — what’s compelling is how much the people onscreen need to believe.

Exactly what it is we’re being asked to believe is left pretty vague. Most of the time, the communication from the dead is simply an “acknowledgment” of their presence. Apparently, dead people hang out together trying desperately to send a message home that they’re “OK.” After that urgent message is communicated, they “pull back,” as if their quarters have run out. Edward ends the episodes by interpreting the lessons of the readings. Usually the message is: Cherish the time with the living but recognize that the “bonds of love” never go away. Inoffensive to the extreme.

The syndicated version of the show has modified the original episodes, replacing John Edward’s “private readings” — one-on-one sit-down sessions — with follow-up interviews of audience members a few months after their loved ones dialed in through the John Edward long-distance service. This means there are fewer readings per half-hour and more skeptical folks expressing how they’re now convinced. The production values have been improved, and the graphics are a bit glossier.

That glossiness, though, doesn’t extend to Edward himself. Edward has a mildly goofy, nerdish presence that works to his benefit. Dressed in casual clothing — the jeans, T-shirt and jacket in the first syndicated episode represent his typical wardrobe — this guy just doesn’t seem slick enough to be a con artist. In the opening for the show, we’re told Edward has had visions since he was a little boy and was 15 when a psychic reading confirmed his capabilities. He’s clearly comfortable in the role, and if he isn’t genuinely sincere, then at this point he certainly fakes it brilliantly.

As the show enters syndication, it will return to its previous latenight slot on Sci-Fi; a Sunday primetime edition at 8 p.m. will feature “celebrity” episodes.

Popular on Variety

Crossing Over With John Edward

KCAL, Aug. 27, Mon., 4 p.m.

Production: Taped in New York by Glow in the Dark Prods. in association with USA Cable Entertainment. Executive producers, John Edward, Paul Shavelson; co-executive producer, Shirley Abraham; supervising producers, Dana Calderwood, Charles Nordlander; talent producer, Lori Levine; show producer, Lisa Tucker; producers, Allison Blecker, Helen Tierney, Diane Wheeler-Nicholson; director.

Crew: Dana Calderwood; production design, Scenic Design Group; lighting, Deke Hazirjian; editors, Paul Rachman, Jill Hendelman; music, Cliff Schwartz. 30 MIN.

More TV

  • Jussie Smollett

    Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate Why Jussie Smollett Charges Were Dropped

    A Chicago judge appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb to investigate why local officials dropped charges against Jussie Smollett, who was accused of paying two accomplices to stage a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself. Cook County Judge Michael Toomin concluded a two month search beginning in June for a special prosecutor, landing [...]

  • 'Lizzie McGuire' Reboot Series in the

    'Lizzie McGuire' Reboot Series in the Works at Disney Plus

    Get excited “Lizzie McGuire” fans because a reboot series of the much loved Disney Channel teen show has been picked up at Disney Plus. Lizzie McGuire herself Hilary Duff, who is set to reprise the role, announced the series at Disney Plus’s D23 Expo event. Terri Minsky, who created the original, is also aboard the [...]

  • Disney Fans Lineup to Subscribe to

    Fans Line Up to Subscribe to Disney Plus at D23

    Disney fans lined up to be among the first to subscribe to the company’s forthcoming streaming service. The D23 Expo convention hall, filled with giant Marvel exhibits and cos-players also featured a kiosk to sign up for Disney Plus. The incentive? An offer to save $23 per year on a three-year subscription to the service. [...]

  • Cine-y-Series

    Chilean TV Grapples With Globalization

    SANTIAGO, Chile – Globalization was the key word in a TV panel held during Sanfic where Mega TV’s International Content chief Juan Ignacio Vicente, CNTV development head Ignacio Villalabeitia and DirecTV programming director Rossy Hernandez debated the myriad challenges Chile’s television industry faces today. Like its counterparts worldwide, Chilean TV is dealing with the spectre [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • PHINEAS AND FERB - "The Fast

    'Phineas and Ferb' Disney Plus Movie Details, Including Title, Revealed at D23

    Five years after summer ended for “Phineas and Ferb,” the show returns with a new movie on Disney Plus in 2020, new details of which were revealed on Friday at the D23 fan convention. In “Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” currently in production for the new streaming service, stepbrothers Phineas and [...]

  • Brews Brothers Netflix

    Netflix Orders Comedy Series 'Brews Brothers' from Schaffer Brothers

    Netflix has put in an eight-episode order of “Brews Brothers,” a comedy series from creative sibling team Greg Schaffer and Jeff Schaffer. The show follows estranged brothers Wilhelm and Adam Rodman, who wind up running a brewery together. According to Netflix, each is a “beer genius … but they couldn’t be more different in their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content