Melinda Gordon 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, her husband, worries about the emotional toll this work is taking on his wife as they embark on a new life together. Melinda recently has revealed her gift to her new friend, Delia Banks, a single mom who works in Melinda's antique shop. However, Melinda fears the consequences of drawing Delia into this unconventional world.
In its fourth season, Ghost Whisperer
takes a turn towards romance with a surprisingly gutsy twist for a show that's generally clung to an established (and popular) formula. Spoiler Alert: Jim (David Conrad), the idealized husband of she-who-communes-with-the-dead Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), dies--but this is only the first of a series of plot turns that reboot their entire relationship, allowing fans to experience the courtship they never saw. Another big change: Prickly skeptic Rick Payne (Jay Mohr) departs and is replaced by Eli James (Jamie Kennedy), a psychologist whose near-death experience has left him with the ability to hear but not see ghosts. As Melinda mentors Eli (in a featurette, Hewitt refers to their relationship as "Batman and Robin"), Eli becomes a core member of Melinda's ad hoc family, including coworker Delia (Camryn Manheim) and her son Ned (Christoph Sanders). Despite these surprises and cast changes, Ghost Whisperer
stays doggedly true to its combination of spooky chills, cleavage-emphasizing outfits, and heartwarming conclusions. Some episodes go a bit astray (Melinda literally enters a Matrix
-y computer game in one; another teases with the possibility of vampires before firmly squelching the idea), but most grapple with unresolved feelings among family and friends. Over the course of the season, the show expands its own mythology with the Watchers and a mysterious book that promises supernatural doings in the future. The extra features are pretty disappointing: Generic featurettes on Kennedy and composer Mark Snow, lackluster "interactive games" that are little more than gussied-up trivia questionnaires, and dismal web series The Other Side
--previous seasons had much more substantial bonus elements. Nonetheless, Ghost Whisperer: The Fourth Seasons
offers its fans solid comfort television. --Bret Fetzer