Fall Mini-Preview: The Ghost Whisperer

class=img_thumbleft>September is like Christmas for television's super-heavy users. The airwaves hum with promise. Entertainment rags tease us with exhaustive fall previews. Backsliding movie actors headlining doomed sitcoms insist that they've "always wanted to do TV." Even though we've groaned through this song-and-dance before, September still feels magical, somehow. Network elves struggle adorably with last-minute packaging, affixing shiny bows to their rancid mincemeat. George Lopez's belly shakes like a bowlful of jelly. And we, the eager viewers, can't wait to tear into this year's premieres. Geena Davis as the first female President? Bring it on! Denise Richards as an Amanda Woodward-esque bitch on wheels? Hooray! Jennifer Love Hewitt with the ability to see dead people? Thank you, Santa!

Nope, even J-Love can't scare us off the goodies. The Ghost Whisperer (not affiliated with Ghost or The Horse Whisperer) is Hewitt's second attempt at headlining a series. (Remember Time of Your Life, the spinoff that begged us to care about the milquetoast girlfriend of a character we never liked in the first place?) Surely, we can forgive Hewitt's hubristic misstep, The Audrey Hepburn Story--after all, she doesn't hang with those orange-skinned chainsmoking starlets at the Roosevelt Hotel, and her lad mag interviews always contain numerous modest denials of her own hotness. Unfortunately The Ghost Whisperer looks like a shameless retread of Medium, Joan of Arcadia, and other shows in which luminous young women commune with the supernatural. (Meanwhile, on the Internet, JOA fans are incensed that CBS canned their cult favorite and greenlighted this derivative.) My prediction: The Ghost Whisperer will, surprisingly, be a modest hit. Hewitt will announce her engagement to a costar in time for sweeps. The bust of her runway-sample Vera Wang gown will require considerable alterations.

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