Reviewed by: JimmyO
Jennifer Love Hewitt
What's it about
A young newlywed helps those that have passed away, “cross over”, with her ability to communicate with the dead. With this, she feels the burden of the living that disbelieve and a couple of scary ghosts that have other plans for the recently deceased.
Is it good movie?
Truthfully I had expected very little for Ghost Whisperer. It seemed like it may be riding the ghost tales of the “other” show called Medium. But after watching the pilot episode, my fears faded as do the ghosts who cross over. Jennifer Love Hewitt stars as Melinda Gordon, a recent newlywed who is starting her life with her husband, Jim Clancy (David Conrad) and a new business. She owns an antique shop with partner and friend Andrea, played by Aisha Taylor from Talk Soup fame. And each episode, Melinda meets another ghost who has something holding them back in a world they don’t belong. Part drama, part horror and part sentimental melodrama, Ghost Whisperer has the ability to feel for a variety of characters thanks to some wonderful casting of “guest ghosts”. It has an uncanny ability to bring you in to this world without over the top special effects in a very subtle yet highly effective way.
For starters, the most important element that makes it work is the three leads. I was not a fan of Jennifer Love Hewitt before. Although I enjoyed I Know What You Did Last Summer, I didn’t really groove on her as the “scream queen”. It wasn’t that she did a bad job; I just wasn’t really pulling for her as much as I should. But here she makes what could be an over the top caricature of someone that talks to the dead believable. Her expressive eyes and her ability to listen as she is trying to help a lost soul find their way are phenomenal, and I am pulled in. This is a wonderful, layered and very real performance. Each episode she makes me care, and more importantly, respond to those that she is trying to help. Equally as effective are David Conrad and Aisha Taylor as the husband and best friend. There is a wonderful bond between these people and the chemistry they share is very surprising and endearing.
This is a beautifully told story of how life and death affect each one of us and the pain of having to take on the fear and loss of others. And Ms. Hewitt portrays the pain and joy perfectly. There are stories here that I think most will respond to. Including one of my favorite episodes entitled “Undead Comic” in which a comedienne who committed suicide needs Melinda’s help to let go of the ones he left behind. This episode also features two fantastic performances by Jed Rees and Elaine Hendrix as the comedienne and the woman he left behind. At times the show is a bit sentimental, almost heart wrenchingly so, but this is about people who either don’t want to move on because they are afraid of where they are going, or they are afraid of leaving their loved ones behind. I appreciate the writing here and the direction, although the Universal Back-lot sometimes takes you out of the world and reminds you that this is TV. This is a refreshing take on the “I see dead people” idea and in many ways reminds me of the thought provoking ideas raised in The Sixth Sense. The horror may be light and if you find yourself not in the mood for sentimentality then this may not be for you. But if you don’t mind a show that wears its heart on its sleeve and features some wonderful performances from the lead and guest actors, I suggest you listen because the dead are talking.
Video / Audio
Video: The enhanced widescreen version for 16:9 TV’s looks quite good. This is a sharp transfer and shows off the Universal Back-lot nicely.
Audio: The Dolby Digital, 5.1 Surround is perfect. This series owes quite a bit to the sound department and it is shown off perfectly with this disc. Although a warning; some of the music had been changed because apparently, CBS couldn’t or wouldn’t try and get the rights for this release. I know that irks some fans off so, there you go… consider yourselves warned.
The extras here are pretty worthwhile and seem to follow the staple of most television series box sets. And we get to look at Jennifer Love Hewitt some more.
First up, we have Commentaries. On disc 1, for the “Pilot” episode we have series creator John Gray and producer Kim Moses. The episode “Ghost, Interrupted” includes producer Ian Sander and Kim Moses. Both of these were interesting to listen to. Especially involving is the pilot where they discuss how Ghost Whisperer came to be, and the woman who inspired it. I liked the pilot a little better because John Gray had a lot of interesting things to add.
Disc 2 includes commentary on the episode “Lost Boys” with Ian Sander and actor David Conrad. This is the least entertaining on this set. I really love David on the show but I think I would have rather him done commentary with another actor instead of a producer. Come on Love, where is your commentary, this would have been perfect for you.
Disc 3 includes the best commentary for “Undead Comic” with John Gray again and actress Aisha Taylor. The both of them add a lot. Aisha Taylor is very funny and terrific to listen to. It was great to hear about her experience as a comedienne and how she feels this show handled that particular way of life. I wish she had done more.
This set also has a few Deleted Scenes for the episodes, “Mended Hearts”, “Homecoming” and “Undead Comic”. They are fine but I see why they were taken out. They didn’t really add anything of value to the particular episodes. They include “Andrea with floorboards”, “Mitch tells Andrea he’s getting a divorce” and “Ghost Comics”. Worth a look but they had been edited from the episodes for good reason; less is almost always more, which is one of the strengths of the series.
On Disc 6 we get a few featurettes including Can You See Me? The First Season of Ghost Whisperer (21:16). This is an entertaining look at the creation of the show and how they chose the cast and why they tell the kinds of stories they tell.
Next is Second Sight: The Clairvoyants of Ghost Whisperer (8:24). This is a short look at co-executive producer and psychic, James Van Praagh and also the woman Melinda is based on, Mary Ann Winkowski. Now, personally I don’t know if I believe in their “gifts”. But it sure makes for some great entertainment.
With A Tour of Grandview (3:23) you get to take a quick look at part of the Universal Back-lot with Jennifer Love Hewitt. And for anyone who didn’t know, you may recognize the courthouse from the Back to the Future films and another house from the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas which was most recently featured in House of 1,000 Corpses. Come on folks, I had to mention it.
The Ghost Whisperer Mythology (9:47) is a slightly pretentious but still interesting look at how the opening credits came to be. Yes, that would be almost ten minutes on just the opening credits. They are pretty cool though.
Scare Tactics (11:12) is a fascinating look at the ghosts and how they are created in post production. The most interesting part of this are the foley artists because they are always fun to watch. This was probably the best of the featurettes aside from “Can You See Me?”.
Finally, we get a Blooper Reel (4:45). This is a very funny look at actors who can’t keep a straight face. My favorite moment is with Jed Rees and his “sh*tty actresses” comment to Jennifer Love Hewitt; funny stuff here.
This is a six disc set. Disc 1 includes the following episodes, “Pilot”, “The Crossing”, “Ghost, Interrupted” and “Mended Hearts”. Disc number 2 includes, “Lost Boys”, “Homecoming”, “Hope and Mercy” and “On the Wings of a Dove”. Disc 3 has, “Voices”, “Ghost Bride”, “Shadow Boxer”, and “Undead Comic”. Disc 4 includes “Friendly Neighborhood Ghost” (it ain’t Casper), “Last Execution”, “Melinda’s First Ghost” and “Dead Man’s Ridge”. Disc 5 offers up, “Demon Child”, “Miss Fortune”, “Fury” and “The Vanishing”. And finally Disc 6 offers up two of the best episodes on this set; “Free Fall” and “The One”, both involving a tragic plane crash. It is also of the “slim set” variety, with a slim case and two discs per case, which means no cool booklet but oh well.
Ghost Whisperer: The Compete First Season is a fantastic beginning to a very heart felt, yet slightly creepy show. This in not Touched by an Angel or Joan of Arcadia because there really is no religion pushed on the viewer. Yes, it seems to be a “heaven and hell” idea, but I never felt that the show should be on PAX. The three main actors, Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Conrad and Aisha Taylor all work fantastic together and even the guest ghosts are more than capable; kudos to the casting director. If you prefer your horror without sentimentality or heart (at least not the emotional kind), then this show is probably not for you; but if you like the idea of a happily married couple who are having to deal with a wife that talks to dead people, I highly recommend Ghost Whisperer. A thought-provoking and touching look at what happens to us all.