In the first season, Melinda was joined by her friend and business partner Andrea (Tyler). At the end of that freshman season, Andrea was killed and became a pawn in a good vs. evil struggle between Melinda and a mysterious “wide-brimmed hat man”. I was sorry to see the character literally depart the show, but I thought that cliffhanger was one of the more effective moments I’ve seen. The sacrifice of the character provided an ending I’ll admit I never saw coming. To replace Andrea, Camryn Manheim from The Practice joined the cast as Melinda’s new partner Delia in the second season. The better addition to the second season cast was Jay Mohr as Professor Payne, who develops a very interesting chemistry with Melinda. He was only intended as a short arc character, but the relationship was quite a dynamic one from the start. But now Mohr has left the show. Jamie Kennedy has replaced him as Melinda’s professor answer man. Kennedy’s Eli James actually shares Melinda’s gift, somewhat. While he can’t see ghosts, he can hear them. His dynamic is not near as good as Mohr’s was, and I missed Mohr greatly in this season. That isn’t so much true for series star Jennifer Love-Hewitt, who ended up hooking up with Kennedy in real life.
The show’s most basic premise remains intact. Melinda Gordon is a newlywed and owns the antique shop in a quaint New England town. From childhood she has had the “gift” of being able to see the ghosts of those restless departed souls unable to cross over into the great beyond. If this sounds familiar, it should. Remember little Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense? Like his character, Cole, Melinda takes the responsibility of helping these spirits accomplish some unfinished earthly business so that they can move into the light. The series almost always ends with some tearjerker moments as a loved one is connected, through Melinda, with the departed friend or family member.
But a lot has changed. It’s not a major spoiler to let you know that Jim gets killed off, but it wasn’t a departure for actor David Conrad. It seems another spirit named Sam inhabits Jim’s body. Now follow carefully. Part of Jim’s spirit is still there, and so the season takes an unusual arc. Jim/Sam and Melinda pretty much start from scratch and have to “fall in love” all over again. Explaining this really doesn’t do it any justice. You really have to see the entire season for it to make sense. It does come full circle, kind of. Suffice it to say that this is the most interesting, but also complex season of the popular series.
Each episode of Ghost Whisperer is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This looks pretty much identical to the HD broadcasts I watched during the season’s run. I compared a DVR version to the DVD release and found them to be pretty much the same. The bitrate is respectable, and although there is some compression artifact, I didn’t find it all that distracting. Much of the show is shot at night, so solid black levels are a must, and they deliver for the most part (marred only by that occasional artifact noise). Colors are pretty much natural but don’t always cut through well in the darkness. Melinda is often wearing colorful outfits that tend to reproduce well, and even at times brightly, particularly in those daylight scenes. There’s nothing here that should keep you from thoroughly enjoying the episodes.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works very nicely to set up those spooky moments we all really watch the show for. Excellent use of rears for spatial effects gives you a very wide and open environment that allows you to easily immerse yourself in the show. Music is used quite a bit, and the mix is always presented perfectly placed and clean. Dialog is also always where it needs to be and is never muddled or lost in other sounds.
You get all 23 episodes on 6 discs. The bonus features are scattered throughout the set and are a bit weak this go around.
The Jamie Kennedy Experiment: (9:26) No, this isn’t a bonus episode of that show. The feature looks at casting Kennedy in the fourth season of the show. Cast and crew talk about the dynamic, and Kennedy does a lot of his typical fooling around.
Season 4 – Love Never Dies: (11:03) The feature focuses on the big Jim/Sam story arc. Cast and crew all join in with their reactions to the big change.
Scoring The Spirit World: (9:26) Fans of The X-Files already know who composer Mark Snow is. The feature looks at his evolving work on the show. The score has become more subtle by this season, and the rationale is explained here. Unfortunately, the show has also gone more the route of the pop song montage that has almost become a cliché.
The Other Side III – Web Series: The third of these web episodes. They feature Olivia, a ghost from this season dealing with the temptation to join the group of ghosts who refuse to cross over. There are eight, and you can view each one individually or all at once. Together they run nearly 30 minutes.
Interactives: There are several little tedious interactive things here. Help Jim’s soul out of a dollhouse, create a ghost from scratch, and correct grave marker mistakes so that you can cross over ghosts.
You have to hand it to the people who run this series. They have good solid ratings, but they didn’t just sit on their hands or turn on the cruise control. Of course, the changes are quite risky. There’s also more of a “Scooby Gang” dynamic to the 4th season that includes Ben and Eli as active helpers in Melinda’s crossing over duties. Sometimes this much change angers a fickle audience who don’t want you to mess with their stuff. But, as is the case here, “Sometimes it’s better”.