Saturday, November 19, 2005

TV REVIEW: Ghost Whisperer: "The Voices"

On this week's installment of CBS's Ghost Whisperer, entitled "The Voices," a teenager steals Jim and Melinda Gordon's SUV and goes on a joy-ride. But when the Gordons get the vehicle back, Melinda finds that the radio is transmitting EVP or White Noise...the voices of the dead! Worse, her cell phone and answering machine are also malfunctioning, and the result is that Melinda starts to experience bad headaches. It's as though she's on overload, receiving messages from those who can't cross over.

Turns out, the car thief's mother died in the woods recently (during an adulterous tryst), and wants to contact her juvenile delinquent son and tell him - wait for it - that she loves him. So she's giving Melinda the headaches trying to get her message through the fog in the Ghost Whisperer's skull. Meanwhile, Jim's mother (Christine Baranski) comes to visit with a new boyfriend, and Jim is suspicious...

Gosh, I gave Ghost Whisperer my best sarcastic shots last week. This time around, I'd just like to comment that the series is a total vanity production for Jennifer Love Hewitt. It's dominated by close-up shots of the actress (making me wonder if she's expecting or something, and the producers are trying to hide her condition...). Thus we get long, lingering, even slow-motion views of the performer's face.

Watching the seemingly unending string of close and medium shots targeted at her face, I became mesmerized by it. Is that a real mole under her right eye, or an affectation? And then I became entranced by her hair, because it appears to have a mind of its own, as well as the unique ability to self-direct. It appears to literally change styles in almost every shot. Just how many hairstyles is Ms. Hewitt getting per episode? My guess is at least four...which seems excessive, even for a Ghost Whisperer.

Also, I must say that close-up after close-up on this show just accents one thing: Hewitt's deficiencies as an actress. That's not to say that she's a bad actress; only that if you're in a close-up for the better part of an hour, you had better be darned good. We better be in absolute love with that face. It better hold our attention like friggin' Helen of Troy. But like I said, I was distracted by the mole, and the constantly-shifting hair style.

So, the plot of "The Voices" involves a dead Mommy who wants her misbehaving son to know that she loves him, even though she was having an affair. Oh, and she wants him to come out of the closet to his father. Okay. Let me just ask: is this really something that's so cosmically important that it would keep a spirit from "crossing over"? Do the dead really hang around just to confirm to loved ones that they were indeed loved? And to encourage them to be "themselves?" Aren't there better things to do? If this is really the most important thing the dead have to communicate, I look forward to future episodes where ghosts return with other urgent messages: like the mayonnaise in the refrigerator is past the expiration date.

The entire EVP subplot this week was a big joke. First of all, the episode had the audacity to imitate The Outer Limits' classic opening narration ("do not attempt to adjust your picture.") I feel that this was really just a tit-for-tat with NBC's Medium, since that program is raising Rod Serling for an introduction on Monday's upcoming 3-D show (which I'll be blogging here).

But more to the point, this episode makes the argument that the spirit of the mother can communicate through EVP/white noise because she worked with electronic equipment in life. Wow! That's pretty impressive. So let me ask this question: what if a spirit worked in a deli ? Would he or she be able to send messages (like images of the Virgin Mary) in club sandwiches and so forth? Also, it seemed awfully convenient that this mother-spirit could go to exactly the right TV, radio, cell phone, etcetera, just as the percipient was nearby to experience it. It's amazing how everything is so simple and easy when you're a ghost. But then, in all seriousness, that's the critical flaw of this show: every plot element fits so neatly into place and the supernatural is made so orderly and sensible that it's actually boring.

Again, I return to the feeling that this is a vanity production, and one that exploits some sort of basic female wish-fulfillment syndrome. Hewitt is married to an understanding husband, who spends the bulk of every episode tending to her every need, fretting over her constantly. Why, there's even a scene in "The Voices" where Ms. Hewitt is made up to look like a tiny little girl, with pig tails! She sits in bed and her hubby delicately and lovingly spoonfeeds her chicken soup. All because those meanie ghosts are giving her bad headaches!!!

It appears to me that Ghost Whisperer is trying to win the Somatoform Disorder/Hypochondriacal/stay-at-home Mom demographic -- and succeeding!


  1. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Hahaaa great. Your next book should be all Ghost Whisperer reviews. That would be hysterical.

    While one part of me does not mind looking at Jennifer Love Hewitt, my brain eventually tells me its not worth it on an intellectually stimulating level, thus i probably will still not be checking this show out.

    Why can't she do naked Shakespeare plays? That would satisfy both ends of the spectrum for me.


  2. Naked Shakespeare plays! Now there's an idea, Jordan. There's a very interesting idea. But Love Hewitt should lose the mole...or move it somewhere else on her body (!!!)

  3. Well, this show may be a "guilty
    pleasure" for some, but there IS
    some kind of genuine metaphysical
    basis for "earthbound spirits".

    JLH is only following the writing
    of the (psychic) Dutchman who
    churns out this stuff...cheesy,
    yes, but it hits some kind of
    common denominator...that is,
    until the audience moves on(?)
    to the next fad....LOL!

  4. Messages sent via deli sandwiches?
    LOL!! That's beyond belief... we might see it on "GW"
    after all!

    By now,the series has mutated into
    something weird....

  5. I think what John Muir is trying
    to say is that, "GW" is a "guilty

    Sure,it IS somewhat of a vanity
    production for Jennifer Love
    Hewitt. Unfortunately,what started
    off promising is indeed morphing
    into some kind of nonsense.

    Remember what happened with
    "Charmed"? One of its stars
    left because,the show had
    degenerated into something inferior!

    Let's hope that JLH is NOT forever
    typecast as "Melinda". One would
    hope that better roles are ahead
    for her!