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TV Series Review

Melinda Gordon isn't easily scared. After all, she sees and talks to dead people. As a medium on CBS' Ghost Whisperer, she helps earthbound spirits make amends with the living. That involves helping ghosts "cross over into the light" and relaying messages from the afterlife to those grieving the loss of a loved one. The rest of her time is spent convincing the living that she isn't crazy.

Judging from its premise, you might expect the show to immerse itself in the macabre, à la NBC's Medium. But Jennifer Love Hewitt, who plays Melinda, says there's a concerted effort to refrain from doing so. "Because of the subject matter we're dealing with, we can't get too scary or else it starts to make fun of the idea of what this woman does and what her gift is. So it won't be jump-out-of-your-seat, horror-movie scary, but there will be some definite suspense."

Contrary to Hewitt's take, episodes start out pretty creepily with ghosts that appear ghoulish and even demonic. But in time we learn more about their stories. By the end of the hour, these fearsome figures have become as tame and friendly—both in appearance and demeanor—as Casper. As they make up for lost time and say their last goodbyes, there's not a dry eye in the place.

Ghost Whisperer's problem isn't its tear-jerking moments, quests for reparation or ghastly images—as weighty as all of that can get. Rather, it's the show's muddled concept of the afterlife, which includes constantly tweaked rules regarding what ghosts can and can't do. There's also no mention of heaven or hell. Blame co-executive producer James Van Praagh for this mishmash of the hereafter. A world-renowned psychic/medium and the show's main influencer, he preaches, "There are many paths to enlightenment. Religion is one of them. [The] paranormal is another one."

God clearly verifies the existence of the supernatural in His Word (1 Samuel 28; Mark 9:4). But the Lord is equally explicit in His warnings against tinkering with it (Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Series creator John Gray isn't convinced, however, arguing that "there's just too much for us to know what's probably going on out there." As a result, Gray fashioned Ghost Whisperer so that believers and skeptics alike might be entertained by the notion of having a second, otherworldly chance at reconciliation. It's a nice sentiment, but chilling when stacked up against God's Word.

Episodes Reviewed: Sept. 23, 30, Dec. 16, 2005; Jan. 6, 13, 2006

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