Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is basically the kid from The Sixth Sense, only with boobs, killer cheekbones, and a formerly lucrative pop career. I may not be entirely accurate about that last item, but until this 6-disc set arrived, I had not really watched the show. It always seemed a little too Touched by an Angel meets The Sixth Sense meets Jennifer Love Hewitt’s aforementioned cheekbones for my taste. Upon viewing the episodes in this set, I pretty much stand behind that assessment, and though it is still not my particular cup of tea, I can understand its appeal to its fans.
The show revolves around Melinda’s ability to communicate with ghosts, spirits of the dead who have unfinished business in this realm and are unable to cross over to the next world. Whether that’s heaven or another dimension is never expanded on in the show, so it avoids awkward questions about religion. In most episodes, she comes in contact with one of these troubled spirits, and then spends the episode working out what happened to them, what’s keeping them from crossing over, and things of that nature. She does this with the help of a stalwart group of friends, some of who have abilities of their own. Jamie Kennedy’s character, for example, can’t see but can hear dead people. A second gifted character is introduced in this season, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Season five begins with Melinda very pregnant with a child who, according to the mythology of the show, is destined to be more powerful than his mother but, for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend without delving into previous seasons of the show, is in some kind of danger. Before we know it, she and her paramedic husband are rushing to the hospital and the child is born. After a mysterious close call where the baby isn’t breathing and time freezes while Melinda has a conversation with her ‘watcher’, a ghostly figure who advises her is spiritual matters, everything turns out okay and the baby lives.
It is at this point where the show makes a leap that will either enthrall of infuriate fans. The story picks up five years later at the boy’s fifth birthday party. Now, the reason for this move seems fairly obvious; it’s hard to develop stories around a psychic kid if the kid is a gurgling little baby, and it’s edging into uncomfortable territory if the show features a helpless infant who is constantly being terrorized by shadowy figures from another dimension. Make the kid five though, and he manages to stay vulnerable without being helpless. I understand this, and having no investment in the show or its characters, this transition had no effect on me. For me it played more like a movie, where such time jumps are common. I couldn’t help thinking, though, of Dallas’s infamous ‘it was all a dream’ season, or Roseanne’s ‘we won the lottery’ season, and how much these twists upset fans of those shows.
In the five lost years, it seems that much has happened. Melinda and her husband Jim are now in full-on parent mode, plus Jim seems to have gone to school in that time and has become a doctor. This was indicated to me, a non-fan, by the fact that he is no longer wearing the douchey backwards baseball cap that he sports through the entire first segment of the show, including at the birth of his child. Plus the first time we see him in the post time jump scenes, he is wearing scrubs, a dead giveaway, though the hat thing should have been enough. Her friend Delia (Camryn Manheim) is now a real estate agent, giving the show a vehicle to introduce some haunted house plots, and Delia’s son Ned is now in college. And her friend Eli (Jamie Kennedy) has also made some kind of progression with his gift, and gets to make some surprising discoveries about his parents.
The season progresses as the other seasons, featuring episodes ranging from light and funny to dark and scary. There is a ghost that can’t cross over because she believes she died because she didn’t pass along a chain letter, a ghost clown, and even a run-in with the Headless Horseman. But the through line of season 5 revolves around the child, Aiden, and the dark forces that are trying to take him. Connor Gibbs, who plays Aiden, is an interesting choice for the part. His acting is a bit stiff, and he’s not very convincing in emotional scenes, but at the same time is refreshing because he comes across as a real little kid, and not one of those precocious, performing monkey types that are so common on TV. You know, the kind of kid where you can practically see the fretting stage mom offscreen, wringing her hands and mouthing the words along with her child. It’s a tradeoff, but I think they made the right decision.
Ghost Whisperer: The Final Season is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. The picture filled out my monitor quite nicely and the print is quite clean, though there was the occasional grainy spot. The show is well-shot with a good palette, and the frequent dark scenes are easy to follow, with clear delineation of the scenes’ action.
The set features both English 5.1 and stereo tracks to choose from. Audio is satisfactory, especially through the front speakers, where the music and sound effects occasionally come across with some nice rumbly bass. The dialogue is well-recorded with decent clarity, never getting drowned out by ambient sound.
Discs 4 and 6 contain Special Features sections.
Celebrating 100 (11:26): This is the standard featurette that I believe is now required by law to be included in sets like this. It’s all about the making of the 100th episode and how awesome the show is and how awesome the fans are and I can’t believe we got to 100 etcetera. The best part is the section where everyone gushes about Love Hewitt and her directing the episode. Apparently she’s awesome and everyone knew she’d do just a super job. My favourite bit from that part is Love Hewitt talking about what she felt she could do for episode 100, since she’d done it all; she’d worked underwater and she’d worked with kids, so the only thing she could think of was to blow up a building. Of course.
A Triple Threat (7:51): In case you didn’t figure it out watching the first featurette, this one is there to remind you that Jennifer Love Hewitt is awesome. Apparently she is the only female director/actor/executive producer working in television today. We find this out from one of the many cast and production people who feel that she is just amazing and nifty and practically perfect in every way.
A Season of Changes (16:00): A rundown of the changes the show sees in season 5. Some time is spent on the supporting cast and what has happened to their characters in the five years of lost time, but the bulk is devoted to the kid and what he brings to the show.
The Other Side IV Webseries: This is a series of webisodes (around five minutes each) that appear to be created and produced by an executive at GMC, starring what are quite likely relatives of said GM exec. It features the story of a family of bad actors who move into a haunted house and drive GM vehicles that, when they are in shots with the actors, are given the camera’s focus. This thing is basically The Room with a less creepy lead, no nudity, but with a ghost. If you have a group of funny, sarcastic friends, it may be worth a viewing party so you can give it the MST3K treatment . Otherwise, skip it.
Ghost Town: This is a game that allows you to help the dead citizens of a Western town cross over and find peace. I can’t believe I’m wasting this much time writing about a game so awful, but you have to hear this. There is a long intro, and then you start the game. The first ghost I was introduced was ‘The Witch Child’. There is another long intro for her (the kid could see the future, predicted a lady’s death, lady dies, the kid’s labeled a witch and thinks she was responsible for the lady’s death), and then you are given the job of helping her find peace so she can cross over. To do so, you are given a choice of three or four inane sentences along the lines of: a) tell her the lady died because of her, b) tell her she was partially responsible for the lady dying, or c) tell her it wasn’t her fault.
I am not making this up.
Ghosts of Rockland Memorial: Oh Lord, another game. This one has you finding Objects and finding Ghosts. You look at a photo of a room while a highlighted marker flitters around the room while you try to use your remote to make the damn thing stop. Sometimes when you do it tells you that you found an object. Then the clock continues ticking down as the marker begins to flit around again. I am not being sarcastic when I say I would rather punch myself repeatedly in the groin for half an hour than play this game for five more minutes.
Ghost Whisperer: The Final Season is a mixed bag. Some may appreciate the bold direction the season takes the series while some may be put off by it. Though I am still not a fan, I think that for those who are this set is worth the purchase, if only to complete the set.