Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) communicates with earthbound spirits, ghosts who cling to the living because they have unfinished business that prevents them from moving beyond the familiar plane of existence that we call life. Inspired in part by the work of famed medium James Van Praagh and of Mary Ann Winkowski, a real-life communicator with spirits, GHOST WHISPERER explores the spiritual side of life and death as Melinda navigates among the dead and the living in her sometimes chilling, sometimes heart-rending and sometimes amusing attempts to act as an intermediary between the ghosts and those they haunt. Jim (David Conrad), her husband, worries about the emotional toll this work is taking on his wife as they embark on a new life together. Andrea, her friend and business partner in their antique store, is fascinated by Melinda's talent. Melinda is somewhat reluctant to reveal her "gift" to new friend Delia Banks (Camryn Manheim), a single mom who lives in Grandview, fearing the consequences of drawing her into this "unconventional" world. For her part, Melinda accepts her unique abilities as a blessing and sometime a curse, but always helps her clients--alive or dead--find emotional closure.
The second season of Ghost Whisperer
--that cornucopia of spookiness, warmhearted crescendos, and cleavage-emphasizing outfits--strengthened the show's basic formula with tighter writing and engaging new characters. After an opening episode that resolves the first season's cliffhangers (with a black-hatted baddie and a beloved "earthbound spirit" in peril), our heroine Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) launches forward with three new friends: Dr. Rick Payne (Jay Mohr, Jerry Maguire
), a prickly, sarcastic professor of the occult; Delia Banks (Camryn Manheim, The Practice
), a skeptical but warmhearted realtor who helps Melinda run her antique shop; and Delia's son Ned (Tyler Patrick Jones), a rebellious but goodhearted scamp. More significantly, the ratio of creepy thrills and beatific resolutions has been recalibrated to crank up the thrills. Which is good news--while helping ghosts find the light may be Melinda's reason for being, those happy endings are more satisfying when preceded by scary special effects and what-will-happen-next chills. On top of that, the show's creators carefully weave in a season-long story arc that culminates a three-episode conclusion (which, naturally, leaves plenty of questions open for the third season to investigate) involving a rival ghost whisperer whose motivations are not so selfless as Melinda's. Clearly, the show's fans were hungry for more of Melinda's stoic, hunky husband Jim (David Conrad); not only does he get many more opportunities to be unflinchingly supportive, he gets haunted by a supermodel and has a best friend who starts dating Delia. Stories range from a vengeful cheerleader to a phantom dog to an old boyfriend of Melinda's, who even in death hasn't gotten over her winsomeness. Most often people are haunted by family members and lost loved ones, who--though they knock things over, possess the living, and generally raise a ruckus--are almost always seeking forgiveness or to pass on sage advice. Through it all, Melinda summons her pluck and marches into danger wearing what seems to be an endless supply of flowy coats and low-cut party dresses. Ghost Whisperer
is a love-it-or-hate-it show, and those who love it do so passionately. The show's creators reciprocate with an abundance of extras, ranging from earnest episode commentaries and behind-the-scenes docs to a series of "webisodes" of an internet serial about a bicycle delivery guy learning to cope with death to a peculiar "Jennifer Love Hewitt Speed Painting Video." --Bret Fetzer