It's a big night for fresh television, including a new round of "Heroes" (which lost me during last fall's episodes), a 3-D "Chuck" (tried it with the glasses today, and I'm just not built for 3-D) and the return of "Medium," whose absences always lead to e-mails asking about it. I've posted my column on "Medium" after the jump.
The mail I get has certain ebbs and flows, usually involving shows that have taken an extended break -- or disappeared entirely -- and have done it so quietly that the show's devoted fans want to know their favorite's fate.
So it has been with Medium, the NBC drama that begins a new season at 10 p.m. Monday.
It usually appears early in a year (often after the end of the NFL season), with little fanfare; offers its allotted number of episodes to its fans, then departs until NBC in its wisdom chooses whether to bring it back for another go-round.
Medium has gotten its share of accolades -- including an Emmy for its star, Patricia Arquette. And in its early going, it could be quite good.
For those of you tuning in late, the series follows Allison Dubois (Arquette), who both talks to the dead and has visionary dreams of events -- dreams that are not always clear but provide guidance toward solving crimes.
That alone could make for an intriguing show (and there is a real-life Allison, who has written about her experiences). But, in Medium, Allison is also a wife and the mother of three girls, and her abilities affect her family life. (For one thing, her skills appear to be hereditary.) As created by Glenn Gordon Caron (Moonlighting), Medium has well handled the balancing of a fundamentally ordinary family with the eerie business of Allison's crime-solving. Caron once told me that a key to the family is ‘‘a casualness, a sloppiness, a lack of vanity,’’ and that still holds true in the two new episodes I have seen.
That said, the season opener is a letdown from Medium at its best. Although Allison's once-hidden ability is now in the open, saving some subterfuge, it is no less odd to see her explaining her process -- and having people believe her.
But that's less of a problem in the season premiere than the core case itself, in which Allison tries to help the remarried widow of a successful author. The case seems slow, and awkwardly constructed, and even as a Medium fan, I found my attention wandering. There's a secondary plot involving one of Allison's daughters that is slightly more interesting, but it, too, does not play out well.
A second previewed episode, airing Feb. 9, is better done -- the case more intriguing, at least, although another family subplot is a bit strained. But it's reason enough to give Medium another look, and to hope the season premiere is an aberration.