TV REVIEW Medium 4.02 "But For The Grace Of God"

Original US air date: 14/1/08

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Written by: René Echevarria

Directed by: Peter Markle


The One Where: Allison is having problems trying to track a missing girl for her bossy new employer, PI Cynthia Keener. Does the solution have something to do with the dreams Ariel’s been having?

In Dreams: Allison dreams of Ariel dying in a car accident. Ariel dreams of being her mum’s best friend in the ’80s, when the two of them tried to go to a Crowded House gig behind their mum’s backs.

Verdict: So much plot is crammed into “But for the Grace of God” you keep checking the time wondering how it’s all going to be wrapped up before the credits roll. This is a dense, immensely satisfying episode which could so easily have gone off the rails. After all, the theme of “teenage daughter doesn’t think parents understand her” is a potential minefield of sentimental gloop. You can always trust Medium, though, to handle these family storylines sensibly, and here the generational arguments work because they ring so true: Ariel may be a stroppy teen but she’s a recognisable stroppy teen, if not from one you know, then from one you once were. It’s rare for a fantasy show to be able to include so much soapiness without resorting to downright soppiness. It helps, of course, that the show offsets this with a truly unsettling crime storyline. Here, there’s no blood and no histrionics, but the build up to the rape scene is deeply uncomfortable. The edginess of the Cynthia Keener sub plot (God, the woman is starting to show a vile side) also keeps you glued to the screen. Okay, so the ’80s setting never really convinces (it takes more than big hair, lipgloss and a couple of Duran Duran posters) but really, that’s a minor quibble.

Gratuitous Time Check #1:
Joe: “Al, it’s 11 O’clock.”

Gratuitous Time Check #2:
Joe: “Time to get up. Let’s go to bed. It’s two in the morning.”

Did You Spot? Allison is reading A Brief History of Time, which is suitable for an episode which bends time through the use of dreams.

Speculation: Hmmm, this Keener character is downright obnoxious. “I’m not an ambulance chaser,” she protests at one point, when clearly she is. And this idea that she wants to keep Allison a secret so that she can grab all the glory is very suspect.

Gaffe: Not really a gaffe, but it’s very unlikely that an ’80s teenage girl who has Duran Duran and Tears for Fears posters around her room would also have a poster for Iggy Pop.

Best Line:
Allison: "Know what I’ve been doing all day? I’ve been trying to find a missing girl. Couple of years older than you. Vanished into thin air."
Ariel: "Okay. So. I’m not her. And how did it happen? Was she going to a concert?"
"No. Actually, she was going to school."
Ariel: "Okay. Fine. I’ll stop going to school."

Dave Golder

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