For starters, the Friday night CBS drama, “Medium” is a quality show. It does not need much in the way of improvement, but there are a few things the show’s creators and the network executives can do (or, in some cases, undo) to make it a better show and-who knows-maybe even jack the ratings up a little bit.
This will not be a very long list, because, again, the show is not at all in disrepair. Not only that, but the first suggestion involves merely coming to an important realization.
1. Remember,“Medium” Airs on Friday Night
This one is for the decision-makers at CBS. On one hand, the so-called “Tiffany Network” is not as timid as ABC, but neither are they as patient as NBC, which, while not perfect on that score, were able to let such top-notch shows as “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “30 Rock” find their audiences while they struggled to make a name for themselves.
Friday night is not a strong ratings night, particularly in prime time. The weekend has started by that point, and a good number of people would prefer to go out and do something, rather than plop down on the couch and watch yet even more TV. As a result, those shows that are scheduled to air on Friday nights should not be expected to pull in the same ratings as a Monday or a Thursday night show, when, under the baleful shadow of the next day’s alarm clock, maybe a night of quality TV might not be such a bad idea.
CBS made that mistake recently with the excellent Friday-night drama, “Joan of Arcadia.” It would be a shame if they were to subject “Medium” to the same fate for the same reason. Insofar as they have truncated Medium’s 2010 season (to end in 2010, not the following spring), the possibility of a cancellation is not all that remote.
And possibly, just possibly, giving the actors some reassurance that their efforts are appreciated and will be allowed to continue for a while might inspire continued top-quality work from them.
2. Try to keep Sofia Vassilieva in the Picture
This young lady plays the DuBois’ eldest daughter, Ariel. The show’s story has her bound off across the country to attend Dartmouth, and that is not far from the truth. She has actually enrolled in Columbia University.
Yes, of course, studies come first, but if there is any way the show’s producers can work her into future episodes, they should try. Meaning no disrespect to Patricia Arquette, who has won an Emmy for her work as Allison DuBois, Ms. Vassilieva is the strongest actor in the cast. It will be a poorer show that has to bucket along without her.
3. Give Miranda Carabello Her Spot in the Opening Credits
This one is more a matter of common courtesy than a much-needed improvement. The young lady who plays the family’s youngest daughter, Marie, has had enough of a presence in the series to merit that kind of recognition.
Is there some sort of regulation that children under a certain age cannot be listed in the opening credits? I remember the sitcom Full House ran for a number of seasons before the Olsen twins were given opening-credit recognition, even though they were a very big part of the show’s appeal.
If there is no such rule, then how about giving credit where credit is due on “Medium?”
4. Give the Viewers More of a Challenge
Now, that could be a very dangerous idea: challenging the viewers’ intellects. That is not what a lot of people watch TV for, is it?
Specifically, this has to do with Allison’s dreams. They are all starting to fall into the same pattern, where she gets only one new clue with each dream and eventually puts the puzzle together. Those clues are entirely graphic, not necessarily in the sense of blood and guts, but in the sense of accurately depicting whatever dastardly deeds are at the core of that episode.
That is a clever gambit, but even the most clever idea, used over and over again without significant variation, begins to get stale. Earlier in the series, Allison used to have a few symbolic dreams, where she didn’t see one person outright murdering another, but, rather, had to figure out what the dream meant. And, since she always manages to dope it out in the end, the viewer will feel better for having figured it out along with her.
5. Don’t Forget Joe
Allison’s husband, Joe, the only one in the family with no psychic ability, has had some pretty harrowing adventures of his own. That has seemed to fade away recently. I hope it is only a temporary thing. Even if Joe DuBois cannot conjure up killers, his life away from the home is quite interesting in its own right.
Those are a few small-but not altogether minor-suggestions to keep “Medium” going as a fascinating series for quite some time to come. Let’s hope enough of them come to pass to enable that to happen.
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