This television season we are being assaulted with a non-stop torrent of genre based series. Shows such as Invasion and Threshold are taking up the battle for science fiction fans with cautionary tales of Pod People. The forthcoming Night Stalker redux with Stuart Townsend is trying to generate a new generation of X-philes. The WB’s slick teeny-bopper thriller, Supernatural, seems to be scaring the pants off of most television critics. I call it a “thriller” only out of pressure from the studios to make sure that we don’t mistakenly label something with ghosts, demons, and a lot of killing as a horror show. Everyone seems to be jumping on the train for the genre serial hit station. Yet, as they do, and the more that networks want to add genre elements to their shows, the less they want to use our seal as a selling point.
For better or worse, the shows that the networks have put out have been critically embraced. With the exception of NBC’s giant monster extravaganza Surface, they have been given the highest forms of acceptance in the nation’s newspapers, periodicals, and Internet sites, where faceless, whining critics have dropped their downward nose leers and accepted the material as fresh, but not horror.
In bounces CBS’s Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle Ghost Whisperer, and I have just lost all patience for the whole ordeal. This show is an insult. It is nothing more than an over-produced, over-acted, over-wrought attempt to make a hit show out of an idea that has been done elsewhere with greater style, talent, and originality. NBC’s Medium, USA’s The Dead Zone, and movies like The Sixth Sense and every derivative piece of crap that was spun out after M. Night’s opus made piles of green stinking moolah all have better grasp on what makes this type of thing popular. Yet, here we are given a show that lacks all of the elements that have made genre affairs such as The Ring so very successful.
1. NO SCARES: This is not horror. It’s nothing but a weepy, non-creepy variation of Touched by an Angel, Joan of Arcadia, Wonderfalls, etc. Here we have a woman who hears and sees things she does not want to but has to in order to be compelled to put right what went wrong. Tru Calling-lite is what we ought to call this. Tru has a bit of an edge over Whisperer for being in existence first. Ghost Whisperer has only its sad sack attempts to generate nothingness out of pretentious drivel.
2. NO MYSTERY: There is nothing to figure out other than how far Hewitt’s breasts will sag once she hits the same age as Bette Davis was when she played Queen Elizabeth in the Virgin Queen. Sure it seems that each week the Ditz-stery Machine will have to come in contact with a new spooky on the show, but the bus stops there, and the gang just wallows in touchy-feely schlock that kills all of the nerve endings in the base of my brain. Hewitt’s portrayal of a medium comes off as nothing more than a large bit of hookeyness. She seems to have no purpose other than to stand and listen to the ghosts and then do what they want. This could be interesting if there were other repercussions like eternal damnation, insanity, or instant mammography. Instead we get INNER TURMOIL, RELATIONSHIP STRESS, and a lot of CLAIRVOYANT ANGST.
3. NO POINT: There are a lot of supportive spouse talks between Hewitt and her counterpart, an actor I have not the will nor the desire to look up. There are a lot of moments where Hewitt’s character tries to understand the pain of the specter. Jennifer is a two-note wonder type of actress. She either just stares with an “Am I cute?” look on her face, or she stares with a deep loving attempt at looking like she empathizes deeply.
Nowhere in this show is there an ounce of fear, tension, or malicious intent. I do not know what the producers had planned, but this Highway to Heaven style bullshit is not, not, not the basis for a genre show. What I am trying to say is that this is not a show that anyone who calls themselves a horror fan should watch. This is the type of insanity that is corrupting the minds of the horror loving youth of the world. Each time a warm and meaningful moment crosses the screen, we get the same setup: Jennifer Love Hewitt gets teary, and the ghostly specter stares back at her with a deep appreciation. UGH! Every time this happens I have the urge to go Jocasta on my eyes. This is an insult to the genre! It is filth like this that makes me think that desperate measures should be taken to keep horror’s sanctity under protection.
Listed as a co-executive producer is James Van-Praagh, a medium who has a string of books after his name like Talking to Heaven, Reaching to Heaven, Healing Grief – Reclaiming Life After Any Loss, and Heaven and Earth – Making the Psychic Connection. It seems as if this guy is the Dr. Phil for the undead — not the best choice if your goal is make a scary show.
Having a thing such as Ghost Whisperer define what is horror for anyone is an act of treason that the founders of this great land were staunchly against. Their first words in the Constitution read, “We The People…”
This show is not for The People. It is for The Idiots.
Directed by John Gray
Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Conrad, and Aisha Tyler
0 out of 5