Archived from the former firedocs blog. 19 March 2006
Yeah I know. I'm way behind the times. But after I finished with VR.5 on Saturday, then on Sunday I watched the whole first season of The Medium on DVD. I admit I was skeptical about this being worth watching. Generally psychic stuff as portrayed on the screen is just ridiculous. I was pleasantly surprised.
The part I liked least about the show was that the first 4-6 episodes had way too much crime-gore. I don't mind violence and gore in context, but there's a line where it is over-showed too often, too long, and it's clear it's nothing more than sick titillation. Apparently feedback must have come in though because after those it calmed way down into being a reasonable amount to work with the plot, and from then on was mostly fine, excepting a few episode moments here and there.
The part I liked most about the show was that it's obvious someone who's genuinely psychic is consulting for it. They made a conscious effort to make clear certain issues that psychics of any kind constantly face. For example, that some info is there and some just isn't, and who the hell knows why. The psychic might be able to sometimes tell you everything from the time to a person's name, describe them perfectly and find you the body, but have no idea that a sudden storm will wipe out the whole project. They may be deeply informed about other people in ways they wish they weren't, while being oblivious to the point of near idiocy about what is going on in their personal life. They may get info that might be accurate but hasn't even happened yet and there's no telling if something between then and now will cause it to not happen at all; would that make them wrong at the time, or only wrong later?
The one thing they try hard to convey, but the parameters of the show itself actually cause the opposite example for, is the inconsistency and the lack of closure. They do try and come back to this again and again in many ways, which is great. But even as someone watching the show, I "need" for her dreams to have some meaning that gets figured out and at least mostly resolved; I "need" for it to make sense. Even if she interprets something wrongly on the show, it's still clear that her info was not wrong, only her conclusion. Yet the reality is that even though she says this on the show, the show cannot demonstrate that so much of the psychic info has no traceable meaning for closure -- or is even certain to be psychic vs. something else. The quantity of psi that is inaccurate, that is inexplicable, that has NO sense of 'certainty', and that certainly doesn't include detailed numbers, names, etc., is a big deal, and they can mention it on the show repeatedly--but they can't show it. The show itself in order to have a plot worth watching, requires amazingly detailed data, requires that whatever dream being focused on means something, requires that she gets some degree of feedback or closure on at least most of it.
It's a dilemma because this is the crux of why psi is such a problem to study in the lab, why it's so profoundly psychologically difficult to deal with for the people who experience a lot of it (let alone near constantly and on purpose as part of a job, as the woman in the show does), and part of why it's so difficult to get accepted by society: because it is just damned inconsistent in quality, quantity, detail and value. Consistency in psi is the holy grail of RV and every other organized psychic art. On the show they attempt to example this, like things which won't be known until the future, if ever; they have the psychic often explaining that most dreams "don't mean anything" (I dispute that but I'd agree they aren't necessarily psychic regarding consensus reality events!); they show the psychic's issues with the tendency to take literally or at face value what she doesn't know (on the show, her husband, a scientist, is the voice of reason and doubt).
In a way, the show is an ideal situation: an extremely logical but open minded husband is the counterbalance for the intelligent yet wildly psychic wife; ten years of marriage anchor them. The family/kids element gives a break to the dark crime element of the show, while also being an opportunity to explore now and then the issues that psi in children can bring up. If you took away that grounding stable long-term husband, and you took away the high intellect of the psychic herself (she was in law school initially); and you just had a wildly psychic person of average intelligence who either has nobody around them for balance or worse, has some newAgerbil irrational sorts to just make it worse, you'd have the situation that most psychics in our culture actually have.
One reason I was so immediately drawn to RV was the 'logical' aspect to it -- of doing it on purpose, of focusing on feedback and comparative accuracy, of trying to find something rational in a decidedly non-rational experience which I'd had far too much of spontaneously, and a lot of issues with trying to 'stay sane' and keep track of what was real and my identity etc. But the reality is that psi is just psi, whether in or out of RV protocol, whether in a session or in a dream or a vision (or a vision during session, as I sometimes have), is still going to have many of the same issues: you just don't know, until feedback of whatever kind eventually comes, what all is psychic at all, accurate, symbolic, allegorical, etc.
I do have to say though that at least the season I watched, aside from the astonishingly good data (some would say impossibly good; I'd say not impossibly, just highly unlikely to be that good consistently), and of course the forced consistency and closure the plot itself requires for the show to succeed, that they've done a very good job with it. Far better than I expected. I liked the show quite a bit.