|Season Two of NBC-TV's hit series Medium finds the show gradually evolving, and while the changes aren't all for the better, the combination of star Patricia Arquette, creator-executive producer Glen Gordon Caron, and the other contributors still makes for entertaining viewing. As Allison DuBois, whose skills as both a medium and psychic make her indispensable to Phoenix district attorney Manuel Devalos (Miguel Sandoval), Arquette, a 2005 Emmy winner, is still at center stage. It is her visions of murderers, serial killers, child abductors, and such that help solve the show's various crimes; the fact that these visions (which usually arrive via some very unsettling nightmares) can be ambiguous and open to misinterpretation, resulting in bizarre, embarrassing behavior on Allison's part, remains an integral part of the show's appeal.
The 22 Season Two episodes (on six discs) contain plenty of genuinely gripping, even shocking moments, but Caron (who also wrote and directed some episodes) clearly wants to focus increasingly on Allison's personal and home life. That's a mixed blessing. Although Medium still has its share of violence and shocking moments, it has become a little more tame, as frequent scenes between squabbling daughters Ariel (Sofia Vassilieva) and Bridgette (Maria Lark), while mostly credible, tend to undermine its dramatic effect. On the other hand, the struggles of Joe DuBois (Jake Weber), Allison's husband, to hold it together when the demands of her gig or the sheer weirdness of what's in her head threaten to take over are very well done; he's become an increasingly important character, there to ground her when her emotions and her visions intertwine and conflict. Best of all are episodes in which Allison's family and work are both in play, like "Judge, Jury & Executioner," in which Joe serves as a juror on a case in which Allison is involved, or "Doctor's Orders," which finds Ariel pursued by the ghost of a serial killer from the previous season.
Of course, any TV show helmed by Caron (who created both the popular Moonlighting and the underrated Now and Again) will have its share of inspired ideas and eccentric touches (not to mention guest stars like David Carradine and co-executive producer Kelsey Grammer). Thus we have an "origin" episode ("Sweet Dreams"), a story in which Allison's dream sequence lasts for the entire first act ("Time Out of Mind"), and another ("Knowing Her") offering insight into Det. Scanlon's (David Cubitt) past. In "The Song Remains the Same" Allison is bedeviled by Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," which she literally can't get out of head; after five or six non-stop, high volume minutes, you'll never want to hear it again. And while "Still Life 3-D" is a pretty cool idea, let's face it: those cardboard 3-D glasses (two pairs come in the box set) are still hokey as all get out. Generous bonus features include commentary on select episodes, a mini-doc about the making of Season Two, and considerably more. --Sam Graham