– Los Angeles, CA, USA
In last week’s episode of Ghost Whisperer [CBS, Fridays, 8/7C], the unthinkable happened: Jim Clancy [David Conrad] was killed, accidentally, when a police detective shot him thinking he was someone else. The episode concluded with Jim’s ghost appearing to his widow in his hospital room.
Tonight’s episode, Threshold, finds Melinda [Jennifer Love Hewitt] unable to see Jim’s ghost because her grief is so strong that it’s interfering with her ability. When the ghost of a teenage girl begins to haunt her – breaking and throwing things – she thinks it’s Jim. Only Jim knows that it isn’t, so he approaches Eli [Jamie Kennedy] to help him figure out why the girl is haunting his widow. Things are complicated by Jim’s brother, who has been waiting for him so that the two of them can crossover together and rejoin their father.
Written and directed by John Gray, Threshold walks a fine line between genuine sentiment and being maudlin. For the most part – and largely due to the cast’s performances – it succeeds. Especially good is Conrad’s work as the increasingly frustrated Jim, though Hewitt gives one of her best performances here. I also have to give full marks to Camryn Manheim, whose work on Whisperer hasn’t really worked for me. Delia finally works as Melinda’s supportive friend and employee.
Naturally, with the complications that arise in Threshold, there are loose ends that will be left for next week’s ep, Heart & Soul – in which Melinda has to deal with a step-in, a man with amnesia and a very angry ghost who seems connected to her life in a genuinely unexpected way. I can’t say anything more than that – except to say that this ep concludes a storyline for Melinda and Jim even as it signals the beginning of an intriguing new direction for her.
Heart & Soul has a bit more trouble avoiding being maudlin, but long time fans of the series will find it to be both and unsettling [in a good way] and satisfying conclusion to the three-episode arc.
Knowing that her husband has to “cross over,” Melinda does her best to encourage him in the clip below. Meanwhile, he’s beginning to see how things work on the other side, as well as understanding what goes on in the mind of his wife. He promises that he’ll always stay with Melinda, because they both know that she’s not ready to let him go. The tragedy causes Melinda to develop deterring feelings about her identity, especially her powers as a medium. She feels that being a Ghost Whisperer is no longer helpful, nor is it necessary.
Don’t be disheartened, say executive producers for the CBS drama.
“Jim did get killed,” Kim Moses said Friday. “He did get shot. But that’s not where the show lives and breathes, and that’s not what we’re dwelling on. ‘Ghost Whisperer’ is about hope.” She promised that the hope viewers are seeking will come in next week’s episode. (The drama continues at 8 tonight on WKMG-Channel 6.)
Conrad is not leaving the supernatural show, and he embraced the acting challenge of playing a dead man, Moses added.
“Everybody loves the chemistry that he and Jennifer Love Hewitt have,” Moses said. “We’ve realized we want to give their relationship more screen time.”
In fact, she said “Ghost Whisperer” will turn up the romance between Jim and his living wife, Melinda (Hewitt). “This is about hope. Very few people get a second chance at true love,” Moses said.
But what does the show say to fans unhappy that Jim is dead? Despite sci-fi and paranormal elements, the show is also a mystery, executive producer Ian Sander said. “All I can say to them is you must turn the page and see where this mystery is going if you want to be satisfied,” he said. “All you saw at the end of last week’s episode was a page in the mystery.” Sander said he hoped the mythology of the Jim-Melinda romance will keep viewers coming back.
INTERVIEW: KIM MOSES, IAN SANDER ON “GHOST WHISPERER’S” NEW DIRECTION
By Jim Halterman, The Futon Critic
Major shake-ups are in store with tonight’s episode of CBS’s “Ghost Whisperer.” To the dismay of diehard fans, it has been rumored that actor David Conrad’s days might be numbered when it was revealed that his character of Jim may die. To clarify the new direction of the series as well as hint at what is to come for the Jim/Melinda relationship, executive producers Kim Moses and Ian Sander talked to Jim Halterman earlier today.
Moses started out by saying that “we are at a very important storytelling section of the season. When we started the series four years ago, the pilot opened up on Jim and Melinda’s wedding. In the four year journey what we’ve found is that audiences really love their relationship and because we have two immensely popular actors Jennifer Love Hewitt and David Conrad who have amazing chemistry onscreen. And what we wanted to do was give the audience more of them because we’d been hearing from the audience how much they love them.” Though the producers didn’t go into exact detail as to what happens in tonight’s episode, they weren’t afraid to tease a little bit about the impact of the events. In tonight’s “Threshold” episode, “there’s a big surprise at the end of the episode,” Moses offered. She then added that next week’s “Heart and Soul” episode, can be considered, “the turning point for the season and for their relationship where we’re going to reboot Jim and Melinda’s love story so that the audience can experience them falling in love from the very beginning.”
Sander chimed in by adding, “We know from the audiences that they have really fallen in love with these two characters and that it’s obviously a very functional relationship with two people that are very supportive of each other, which in real life that’s somewhat unusual and certainly on television it’s been somewhat unusual and audiences seems to have attached themselves to that relationship. This was a way of going back and giving them a courtship, if you will, and a romance, if you will, in a way that we think is both very dramatic and very exciting.”
Changing the dynamic and journey for the main characters of any series is risky but Sander had his own take on why it’s a good thing to be risky. “Unless you stick it out there and try to do something that is brave,” Sander said, “you will never do anything great. It’s not as difficult to do something that is good and be very even down the line [but] if you want to ever do something great whether it’s an actor’s performance, whether it’s a director directing a show or whether it’s a painter painting, you have to try something bold and chancy and take those kinds of chances to do something great and this is our way of doing that.”
And how do Moses and Sander think the audience will react to the coming changes? Moses offered that the chemistry between the two leads is only going to become increasingly richer. “You always hope for that magic but you can never imagine that you could get something this powerful. And moving forward, what we’ve done is we want to give their relationship more screen time. And so we have to balance out the ghosts and the way to do it is to take the journey we’re takingvery few people get a second chance at true love and that’s what this journey is about.”
Mystery is an important element of the series that Sander feels will keep the audience invested in the upcoming twists and turns of the series. “All I can say to [the audience] is you must turn the page and see where this mystery is going if you want to be satisfied and all that we saw at the end of last week’s episode was a page in the mystery. We now encourage you to turn the page and we promise you you’ll both be surprised and satisfied with what’s on the next page and the mystery will be fulfilled. Then, of course, we will continue to be mysterious as we go forward otherwise why would you turn the page for the next episode? So we hope that this will just be the beginning to kick off what we call our mythology for season four.”
As with any drama, things are not destined to go smoothly as the characters that Hewitt and Conrad play go through this new chapter of their romance. “I think any time you start a new relationship there are many, many complications,” Moses explained. “People are not always on the same page so without giving a huge amount away, the idea that they have to reconnect and find common footing isit’s a great challenge in a relationship.”
One plot point that the producers gave away was that Conrad’s character has to work to regain his memory in the course of the coming episodes and there are many complications that will arise from this plot point. Sander explained, “As Jim is recovering his memory, there will be surprises in that memory that can create certain kinds of complications that have to be overcome by the relationship. As he’s finding out new things, there are things that both surprise him and he may also discover things in his memory that also surprise Melinda and those kinds of things could bring about complications that we will work to overcome and that will make the relationship stronger.”
Besides the Jim and Melinda character, the supporting characters will also have to adjust to the changes afoot, particularly the Delia character, played by Camryn Manheim. “Delia has a big surprise in [next week’s episode] and it’s how that information and how this new relationship lands with the other characters and that also effects Delia and Melinda’s relationship.”
With actors often being very protective of the journeys that their characters (and the series) takes, how did star/series producer Jennifer Love Hewitt respond when Moses and Sander laid out their thoughts on the storyline that is currently unfolding? “Her reaction was remarkably positive,” Sander shared. “She’s a very romantic woman herself and so it’s something that she was really positive about.” Moses added that it is the unfolding of the story that has everyone very excited about where the show is going. “We believe that [the story] is going to be delivered in a surprising way and a very special way and the audience will be able to take that journey with them instead of finding about their history later.”
With multi-platforms like webisodes and audience interaction on the Internet becoming just as vital to a show’s success as Nielsen ratings, “Ghost Whisperer” audiences will be able to participate in the way that Jim’s memory is restored. “We’re going to ask the audience online to help [Jim] remember,” Moses revealed. “What we’ve found with fans over the four years is that people watch the show, their devoted to the show, they pay attention to the details and they love the mythology of the journey and because they’re holding onto this information we want them to share it to help bring back Jim’s memory.”