PATRICIA ARQUETTE needed a clairvoyant to turn around her career in 2005 and she found just that in Allison Dubois, the humdrum housewife who solves major crimes with her dreams in the hit US series Medium. Up to then, Arquette was best-known for North-East director Tony Scott’s 1993 movie True Romance and others like Ed Wood and Disney’s Holes and her shortlived 1995 marriage to Nicolas Cage.
Now she’s an Emmy award-winning actress, who has just been commissioned to star in a seventh series of Medium, which has been treated disgracefully by the BBC (should Arquette have seen that coming?) with a scatter-gun broadcasting of the early series. Now Living is showing the latest episodes, which still command eight million viewers in the US.
“I had a feeling that women wanted to see something different. Different types of body shapes, different faces,” Arquette said of the success of Medium, which features her as a working mum with three daughters and a loving husband, Joe (Jake Weber). “She’s not some supermodel, but he’s hot for her and she’s hot for him. It’s a committed sexual marriage which you rarely see in film or TV,” is her summing up of the backstory.
The 42-year-old feels that the often scary crime thriller is ideal for middleaged women like herself and has been proved right with ratings showing that 60 per cent of Medium’s audience is female. And in some ways her career comes full circle tonight because her character, Allison, dreams that she’s the star in a zombie horror film as series six continues to take a much darker and more dangerous path for the ballsy blonde special advisor to the district attorney in Phoenix.
Arquette pointed out that “as intricate and as well crafted as the mystery plot lines are, the heart and soul of the show is really in the family”. Creator and executive producer Glen Gordon Caron has ensured that the happy family side of Medium has been maintained up to now, but series six has forced a change on the scriptwriters because the three girls are growing up.
“When we started, Ariel (Sofia Vassilieva) was just a little girl and now she’s a young woman,” Arquette reflected. As all the girls have got Allison’s ability, the storylines have already included Ariel possessed by a murderous spirit and little Marie (played by Madison and Miranda Carabello) being taught the end of a song by the spirit of a father who wants to help his composer son.
No one, not even the real self-proclaimed medium Allison Dubois, on which the plotlines are based, could have dreamed that series six would contain 22 episodes and a seventh series ready to roll in the US after NBC cancelled its contract last year – CBS taking over production with 24-hours notice.
Now Arquette is starting to direct episodes as well as acting and said: “When you’re in front of a camera for a lot of years on a show that has a specific style and rules of shooting, you start telling like you understand those rules. So I just wanted to check it out. I felt like that person who’s patting their head and rubbing their stomach and hopping.”