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DVD Review: 'Ghost Whisperer: The Complete First Season'
All the Love, tears and featurettes you can stand this Halloween
Jennifer Love Hewitt's Melinda Gordon is either gifted or cursed with the ability to see and communicate with earthbound spirits, which means that every Friday night, she gets visited by a recently deceased ghost with the desire to tie up loose ends. After initial confusion (ghosts rarely articulate themselves in the most straight-forward of manners), Melinda produces reconciliation with a quivering lower lip and eyes brimming with tears. When it comes to heavy-handed emotional bludgeoning, it would be more subtle for the producers of "Ghost Whisperer" to strangle a puppy on camera once a week. That's why despite excellent production values, superior cameo casting and Hewitt's ample, um, physical virtues, I can't watch "Ghost Whisperer" without a visceral reaction resembling nausea.
But lots of folks love "Ghost Whisperer," love it to death. What may seem like bubble-headed New Age pabulum to me offers hope to millions of others, confirming a best-case scenario of life after death. If Melinda can help bitter magicians, malicious children and victims of all sorts of tragedies pass into the light, while also offering closure to their living loved ones, there's bound to be a warm, fuzzy place for all of us.
And yet, as much as the show annoys me and as much as its producer James Van Praagh creeps me out, it must be acknowledged that "Ghost Whisperer: The Complete First Season" is an admirably complete and packaged DVD set.
The show's 22 episodes are packed onto six discs, leaving the bulk of the bonus features for the final disc, which also contains the audacious season finale in which a plane was dropped on one of the show's three main cast members.
On that sixth disc, a group of five featurettes touch on most aspects of the show's production without any redundancies. The 20-minute "Can You See Me? The First Season of Ghost Whisperer" provides a basic overview of show's genesis, including the shocking revelation that the set is one big happy family and that the actors all love to work together and Hewitt's confession, "I'm a complete mushball." The featurette "Second Sight: The Clairvoyants of Ghost Whisperer" gives much more time to Van Praagh's creepiness, as well as to Mary Ann Winkowski, the inspiration for Hewitt's character, who once performed a ghostbusting at the actress' house, removing two spirits. Perhaps as a sign of gratitude for being ghost-free, Hewitt leads a quick tour about the show's set on "A Tour of Grandview," giggling her way around in a low-cut top, barely covered by a see-thru blouse.
If Hewitt's aesthetic features aren't the best part of "Ghost Whisperer," the trippy opening credit sequence probably is. The credits, which feature art by Maggie Taylor and some funky computer-generated bees, are taken apart shot-by-shot. Given the tone of the show, it's appropriate that over 10 minutes, everything is over-explained and drained of wonder. Meanwhile in "Scare Tactics," the show's visual effects are studied in moderate depth.
In addition, there are deleted scenes scattered throughout the discs and four episodes have commentary tracks, including co-star Aisha Tyler adding humor to the episode "Undead Comic."
The DVD set isn't going to convince anybody to reevaluate "Ghost Whisperer," but people who are already fans should be satisfied.