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As Medium leaves TV tonight, say goodbye to the realest marriage on television



medium_400x600.jpgFor some people, the end of Medium on CBS tonight will be the long-overdue end to a quirky supernatural series that wouldn't die.

But for this critic, Medium's conclusion after seven years and two networks is something much sadder: The end of one of TV's best portrayals of marriage and family.

Creator Glenn Gordon Caron has often called Medium a a series of grown-up ghost stories merged with a character study about an average American family. And I must admit that, while the supernatural part often vexed me -- how many times can psychic Alison DuBois' coworkers and family shrug off her crazier premonitions? -- the family part is what kept me hooked.

Like a spouse of someone with a chronic illness, DuBois' husband Joe (Jake Weber) has lovingly tolerated what must be the most maddening ability in supernatural circles -- the power to see the future in dreams, often manifested as nightmares.  But once you get used to star Patricia Arquette's somnabulent acting style -- she sometimes delivers entire scenes like she's fighting the effects of Ambien -- the show reveals a tender portrayal of a long-married couple still in love struggling to raise three smart, talented kids.

medium-season-5-finale.jpgUnlike so many TV families, this brood lives in a house that looks like it was purchased with a low-level engineer's salary. And recent storylines about Joe losing his job and the eldest daughter heading off for college provided a much-needed anchor of realism to a show so often centered on dead people dropping clues to murder. (why can't they ever just appear and say who did it?)

Which is why I'm so troubled by news of the storyline behind tonight's finale, which supposedly involves flashes to a future where a long-missing Joe turns into a drug mule for a Mexican cartel and Allison becomes an attorney trying cases of her own. Caron is a master, so I'm reserving hope this will make sense; but such moves sound suspiciously like knocking all the chess pieces off a board just because you don't like how the game is ending.

What kept many of us watching Medium through its days on NBC and later CBS was the quirky family at the heart of these outlandish stories.  If that gets corrupted for the sake of a flashy finale, it will leave an awful memory to cap a quietly compelling series.

Unfortunately, the real Allison DuBois -- yes, there's a real person who claims to speak with the dead through dreams -- is now a celebrity who hangs with Kelsey Grammer's soon-to-be-ex-wife and gets in fights on Real Housewives episodes. H/T to the Pop Morsels blog for linking to this essay and displaying the following clip...

[Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 5:12pm]


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