"I really liked the material but I certainly didn't expect to be here in five years," said Patricia Arquette of her successful television series "Medium." As the fifth season of the NBC hit rolls out beginning tonight, Arquette and her on-screen husband Jake Weber talked about their five-year journey, Arquette's upcoming directing debut on the show and who she would like to play her mother on the series.
Weber said that his experience on the series has entered a satisfying area of comfort. "I think that Patricia and I see more of each other than we do our own families. And, you know, all the crew has been together for this long; it's sort of like - it sort of feels like home right now."
Arquette, who earned an Emmy for her role after the show's first season, added that she hasn't gotten bored with some of the repetition that comes with playing Allison DuBois and, instead, feels it is something closer to reality. "I think you need that normalcy. And also that's part of what's interesting about doing a long-term project is it's like a long-term relationship; like you run into sort of one pattern and you keep doing that same pattern over and over and over again, then you have a breakthrough, then you go back to cases, then you keep doing the same pattern over and over again and you don't notice it. So it's sort of what I struggle with sometimes and yet I also see the value in it and I see the realism in that also."
One way to change up the routine on the series was for Arquette to sit in the director's chair for an upcoming episode. "It was very humbling," the actress said. "I think it was a really good experience for me as far as being grateful to other directors because there was times where I felt like that person who's patting their head and rubbing their stomach and hopping because I was still acting in a lot of it and we didn't have playback. And certain scenes my back was to the camera because I was doing this secretive work I was working on. So I couldn't even see Jake's face. But I had to depend on a lot of other people."
Unexpectedly, one of the people that Arquette had to lean on during the episode she directed was someone quite close to her. "I had a hard time casting this boy's part so I ended up calling my son [Enzo Rossi] the night before and telling him you have to do this for me. So it was really neat working with him but nerve wracking and exciting."
Though Arquette said she enjoyed the prep process of helming an episode, there was another portion of her acting job that she enjoyed even more. "Most of all I really loved the editing process," she shared. "I learned so much from the process; Glenn [Gordon Caron, the creator of "Medium"] had certain specific ways that he edits things emotionally and because I don't have the same experience he does I made different choices editorially from emotional places. And it was interesting to see how different our visual language was and our emotional language with cutting choices."
The marriage of characters Allison DuBois and her husband Joe is one of the more solid on television despite the immense pressures that come from Allison's crime work and life as a medium. How do the actors think the relationship between Allison and Joe has stayed intact? "I think they make each other laugh," Weber suggested. "I think that they fight hard but they make up very easily. And I think that that's a hard thing to do in relationships, you know, if you have a strong willed individuals and I think both of them are fairly strong willed especially probably Allison more so than Joe. But when they do get into conflict they resolve it quickly because there's a very strong sort of foundation there of respect and love and fun."
Arquette and Weber also agreed that it's the personal stories that keep audiences coming back. "For me," Arquette said, "that is the foundation and the heart and soul and really what I care about in the show and what I thought was interesting about it. I mean, of course I always thought the psychic aspect of it was interesting but I don't think I'd have the same connection if it hadn't been for the family stuff. And I didn't feel like there was really anyone really exploring a healthy marriage and family on television. So for me that's crucial and when I feel like that's kind of waning that's when I get frustrated.
Weber credits Caron, who, he says, "is the sort of guiding spirit behind this whole thing he's always been interested in this sort of love story. And as intricate and as well crafted the mystery plot lines are the heart and soul of the show is really in the family. And they're really sort of used as things to explore. A woman and a man who come from very different places, very different world views who have a lovely family and who struggle with their relationship and their marriage and they come through it, they love each other."
"Medium" has also been a haven for big name guest stars such as Arquette's famous siblings (Richmond, Rosanna and David), Jason Priestley, Kelsey Grammer (who is also an executive producer on the series) and Anjelica Huston, who was nominated for an Emmy last year for her guest stint on the series. This coming season, appearances by Tracy Pollan, James Van Der Beek and Tony/Emmy-winner Blythe Danner adorn the series but that's not all, according to Arquette. "I think we're going to have some really interesting people for the last part of the season, too," she teased.
One storyline that Arquette would like to see explored on the show is the one between Allison and her mother, who has never appeared on the show. Arquette said that Allison "alludes sometimes to how lonely she was in discovering her abilities and how she wants it to be different for her daughter, that they don't carry around a shame or a fear of it or a trying to drink it away or any of that stuff. So I always wanted to explore her relationship with her mom. And I was always hoping that we could get Gena Rowlands."
Finally, in regards to the success of "Medium" and, generally, women in television, Arquette said it could only help other series with a female lead find a place on television. "I think it's always great when there's good work out there. I think it helps other actresses because it's not so much what I think [but] it's the people that make decisions are bankers and money people and they look at models that are financially lucrative and then they make decisions on future projects according to a model they've seen make money. So if these shows are being financially successful the chances are better that they will, you know, when someone goes in a room and pitches this is sort of like 'The Closer.'"
"Medium" returns tonight to NBC and can be seen every Monday at 10:00/9:00c.