Ten weeks before Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone first appeared, One Step Beyond premiered. It was a series that presented tales of the paranormal: telepathy, possession, communication from the dead – all these and more were covered over the course of the series. One thing, however, made OSB different and guaranteed it a unique place in television history: every episode was allegedly a true story!
Hosted by the dapper John Newland [who also directed many of the show’s episodes], the series opened with an episode called The Bride Possessed – a tale of a newlywed bride who is possessed by the spirit of a woman whose death was thought to be a suicide.
In the season premiere for Ghost Whisperer [CBS, Fridays, 9/8C], Firestarter, Melinda [Jennifer Love Hewitt] has to say farewell to a friend, while helping a sceptical psychologist learn to deal with being able to hear ghosts. It’s an entertaining episode of a series that never quite achieves greatness, but is always entertaining.
When Jim [David Gordon] is called to a fire at the university, Melinda tags along fearing that her colleague, Rick Payne [Jay Mohr] might be a victim. Rick, it turns out, is fine – but Melinda sees a mysterious black woman who disappears, and the spirit of a victim leave his body while Jim works on him – and then return after being hit with the defibrillator.
The man is Dr. Eli James [Jamie Kennedy] and when Melinda sees him and a ghost chatting in his hospital room later, she decides to help him with his new “gift.” Unlike her, though, he can only hear ghosts – not see them. And he seems to prefer thinking that he’s gone crazy over being able to talk with ghosts – especially this ghost, Fiona [Alona Tal], who was his patient.
Like the best eps of the series, Firestarter is more than adequately written; directed with a deft touch and features the best performance that Jamie Kennedy has ever given. There are scenes that are simultaneously comic and dramatic – as when Eli is surrounded by a half-dozen ghosts, all imploring him to help them, in a bar that’s otherwise empty but for the bartender and a guy playing pool – and there are scenes that are heartbreaking – as when we learn why Fiona’s ghost hasn’t crossed over. I’ll let you discover who’s leaving…
Fans of the series will love this ep, while those who haven’t tried it before will find it to be a solid hour’s entertainment. No more, no less.