Friday, December 29, 2006

Afterlife: Not Just a "Medium" Rip-Off

Those damn psychics are so hot right now! Afterlife, a British import currently being broadcast on BBC America (they're finishing up the first season Thursdays at 9), stars Lesley Sharp as Alison Mundy, a psychic who speaks to the dead. The show premiered in Britain in 2005, the same year Medium premiered in the US.

While both shows feature a psychic named Alison (okay, okay, it's "Allison" on Medium) haunted by ghosts seeking some sort of resolution, there are a few differences. First of all, Lesley Sharp doesn't look like Patricia Arquette. She actually looks like - dare I say it? - a real person! Crazy, I know. Alison Mundy doesn't have a convenient job that exposes her to new crimes to be solved every week, with understanding supervisors and an inhumanly patient husband. Instead, she's still struggling to find her place in the world, and constantly challenged by a skeptical psychologist who's writing a book about her.

The tone of the show is also somewhat darker, which may be due to a gloomier Bristol setting (as opposed to Medium's sunny Arizona location). It could also be due to the fact that they cast actors who look like real people, which tends to increase the "it could happen to me!" freak-out factor. But it's not really a scary show so much as a psychological drama, with layers of complexity which belie its X-Files-esque "skeptic/believer" premise.

Although sometimes the interactions between Alison and the psychologist (Robert) seem a bit forced, the show is generally really good, and makes me wonder what else I'm missing on BBC America. So what else am I missing on the Beeb, people? Feed my TV addiction--be an enabler!


Bob said...

Ummm...Patricia Arquette is not a particularly attractive woman under the best of circumstances. The way they dress her up and do her hair (god awful bangs generally) on medium she is lucky to be considered average looking.

GetSheila said...

I just discovered this show and I LOVE it. I love 'Medium' too but they are two completely different approaches to portraying mediums. Two times the fun! And how can it be a rip-off if they started at the same time? :)

There is another comparison you didn't mention: Allison on 'Medium' had a son die young and Robert on 'Afterlife' had a son die young. Do you think it's a 'sign?' Oh wait...make-believe!

Liz said...

Aw, well I think Patricia Arquette is pretty. Despite the bangs. And anyway, an "average-looking" woman on TV is far from an average-looking woman in real life, I'd say.

I didn't know that about Allison's son...interesting. When I first heard about Afterlife, I kind of thought it was a Medium rip-off, because I didn't realize that when BBC America claims something is "new," it means "new to America." So that assumption is what I was referring to. :)

Deb said...

I have to say I agree with bob...but the main problem is her teeth. I'm suprised she even got on tv with those teeth.