Green Guide 8 Jan 2009

Here is the second piece I wrote filling in for Marieke Hardy on Green Guide's Backchat column.

Nothing like a natter with the dead

Adam Richard
January 8, 2009

DOES anybody like summer television? Most people I know complain about the programs nestled around the cricket, the cuckoos that sit in the spots reserved for the shows we watch when it's not hot. You have to be cautious, because the summer schedule can be a dangerous mistress. You can get attached to a show that was cancelled in the US months earlier (Eli Stone, The Ex List). You may stumble across one of your favourites, only to find you have seen that episode several times before (the many permutations of Law & Order, NCIS). You might find a little gem that won't make it past February (Army Wives, Gossip Girl). You could even be seduced by the summer perennials, shows that make the television equivalent of a booty call, turning up for a few short weeks before disappearing out of your life, and you won't know whether they'll be back next summer or not — shows such as MacGyver, King of Queens or Ghost Whisperer.

It is a delicate time in my house when Ghost Whisperer (Tuesdays at 8.30pm on Seven) returns. My boyfriend is appalled by my love of the supernatural shenanigans involving Jennifer Love Hewitt, and he has to excuse himself because he knows how it always ends. Ghost Whisperer is pretty much what it says on the box; Jennifer Love Hewitt (let's call her J-Lo-Ho for convenience's sake) plays Melinda Gordon, who gasbags with the dead because the deceased want to let their loved ones know they love them, before they move on into The Light (a non-denominational after-life). Inevitably, everyone has a well-earned sook, which can sometimes be difficult for J-Lo-Ho, who wears a lot of heavy black eye make-up.

The joyous tears that end each episode of Ghost Whisperer are the kind that can usually only be found in mawkish made-for-TV movies or Touched by an Angel. This week she made us feel good about domestic violence, and taught us that you can break the cycle of abuse simply by having a natter with your dead mum. Crying ensues.

But tears are not the only reason I love Ghost Whisperer, there's also J-Lo-Ho's bra, which is outrageously full. As a gay man, I should not find such things appealing, and in attempting to rationalise it to myself, I have decided it is an unspoken plot point, and that her paranormal congress is conducted by way of her psychic bosom.

Thankfully the anti-Ghost Whisperer is also in repeats over the summer: The Mentalist stars Simon Baker nee Denny as a former psychic who admits he was a fraud, and now uses his powers (of observation not supernatural phenomena) to solve crimes.

The Mentalist was a huge hit for the Nine Network when it premiered in September, so in a bold move, they dragged it around the schedule hoping the viewers would follow it, as opposed to the old days, when they would drag an under-performing show around the schedule hoping someone might notice it.

Not being psychic myself, I lost track of The Mentalist, so I am quite happy it is back on (Mondays at 8.30pm on Nine), and I can catch up.

In The Mentalist, Simon Baker nee Denny's character, Patrick Jane, is a freelance consultant who is able to solve crimes because he is much more observant than the police.

This week, only he and a sniffer dog were able to find a dead body underneath a car, in spite of the fact that there appeared to be more than 20 law-enforcement officials standing around the vehicle.

Rather than being the smartest person on the force, I am starting to believe that he is of average intelligence and surrounded by idiots.

The investigators on his team could turn out to be as stupid as the Keystone Cops, or the buffoons that accompany DCI Gene Hunt (played by Philip Glenister) in Life on Mars.

Either that, or it is Simon Baker nee Denny's totally disarming smile; it is as if he is investigating with his face, getting to the bottom of crimes purely because he's pretty.

Marieke Hardy is on leave.


Article originally published in The Age