Did we like it?
It’s often a bad sign when a new drama debuts on E4 and not C4 and this was not an exception. Overtly cynical, sickeningly mawkish, devoid of humour and crushingly dull TV, despite starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
What was good about it?
• The central idea, that a woman can communicate with the dead, even if obviously stolen from Sixth Sense (it even included a nod to the film by featuring a character who isn’t explicitly revealed as a ghost until the end of the programme), opens up interesting possibilities for a series. Unfortunately, these were only clumsily explored in this pilot episode.
• Perhaps if you are a believer in ‘the other world’ this might be the drama for you. Certainly, there are some positive reviews on IMDB (from a real mystic, no less), so someone must find it compulsive viewing.
What was bad about it?
• The opening scenes started as the drama meant to go on – enormous dollops of sentimental horse manure with just an occasional strand of intrigue.
• The attempts to explain the backstory and the nuances of Melinda’s ability to communicate with the dead were ham-fisted.
• Desperate to be liked, this opener to the series went for broke by incorporating a war hero as the guest ghost. At the end, the MIA soldier was found and brought back for a hero’s burial thanks to Melinda’s help. The only surprise was that the end credits didn’t roll to the sound of the Star-Spangled Banner.
• Terrible lines used to handiuly explain away the unexplainable: “A big change sends a ripple effect through the spirit world,” says Melinda when explaining to best friend Andrea why the soldier has suddenly turned up after being dead for 30-odd years. This ‘big change’ was the fact that his son’s wife was heavily pregnant. The viewer was left to wonder why other big changes, such as the birth of that same son (the soldier died before he was born) or indeed the death of the soldier’s wife, which he was unaware of, did not bring him ‘home’ earlier.
• Of course, Melinda’s husband is a paramedic (we knew this because it was mentioned at least once a minute throughout the programme). This led to yet more dire dialogue, principally: “We’re in the life business… death is just part of it,” and other such cliche-ridden tosh.
• There’s nothing wrong with supernatural dramas. They have been done very well, but this show takes itself too seriously. The acting was flat and there wasn’t a single character that seemed interesting enough to hold our attention or would compel us to watch again. It seemed unsure whether it was a horror or simply a human drama and ended up being neither. Apparently it has gained a second series in America, so perhaps things improve after this dismal pilot.