Medium returned for its fifth season Monday, Feb. 2 (10 pm/ET, NBC) with an appropriately ghostly murder mystery featuring guest star Max Casella (The Sopranos) as a mysterious suitor who goes to great lengths for true love. Future episodes will mark a shift in how Allison (Patricia Arquette) "sees" things (look for a True Blood star to guest), as the line between the corporeal and ethereal worlds is blurred. On the homefront, Joe's got a sweet new job, Ariel's teen years are ready to rear their ugly head and Bridgette is drawing naked pictures in art class. TVGuide.com listened in as Arquette and her TV hubby, Jake Weber, bickered like a real married couple, along the way teaching us the difference between a psychic and a medium, how they keep the show — and their TV marriage — fresh, and who their dream cast would include.
TVGuide.com: There are a lot of psychics —real and fake — on TV these days. What's the difference between a psychic and a medium?
Patricia Arquette: I think they're the same thing actually. But, you know, for some reason Allison DuBois, the real Allison, didn't like the word psychic; it conjured for her images of people who were taking advantage of people and some kind of hippy thing. And she wasn't like that, like crystals and incense.
TVGuide.com: Going into your fifth season, how do you keep the show fresh?
Arquette: I've taken to pinching and hitting Jake. That helps me. Like, I stomp on his toes right before we roll or pinch him hard or something like that; that helps.
Jake Weber: Yeah, it's just like going home now. It's been five years and I think that Patricia and I see more of each other than we do our own families. I think one of the advantages of doing a show for as long as we have and working with the same people as long as we have is you just don't get nervous anymore. It's all sort of relaxed and you just want to have a good time at work.
Arquette: You have a lot of directors who come and go, but because you're consistently working with each other and the crew, you have a very safe place to go, "Did that suck? What do you think? Do you think I got there? Should we go again?"
Weber: You've never asked me that.
Arquette: I have too.
Weber: Never in five years.
Arquette: Because you're not reading my mind. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Things in the DuBois household seem to be getting back to normal with both parents back to work. How long do you think that's going to last?
Weber: I don't know. It was so dark for a couple of years, which I kind of love, but I think it's good to give them a little bit of relief. They're still in the same spot that the country is in, but they have a light at the end of the tunnel. It's nice to give them a little bit of happiness.
Arquette: The sad reality is that crime is good business during times like these.
TVGuide.com: What makes Joe and Allison's marriage work?
Weber: I think they make each other laugh; they tease each other. I think that they fight hard but they make up very easily. I think there's an unspoken quality that exists in all successful relationships: goodwill. "Hey, could you take out the trash?" "Sure."
TVGuide.com: At the SAG Awards, Meryl Streep spoke pretty forcefully about how many great roles there were for women this year. Within the context of your sister Rosanna's 2002 documentary Searching for Debra Winger [about the lack of roles for middle-aged actresses], do you think things have gotten better? How has your experience on Medium influenced that opinion?
Arquette: Well, I think television has long been a strong supporter of women in leads, from Lucille Ball on. The last couple of years have shown that there have been better roles, but I think Meryl Streep is at a little bit of an advantage. There are many great actresses will never get in the room for a Meryl Streep part. But I'm glad to see more actresses having more powerful parts to play.
TVGuide.com: If you look at the traditionally successful TV genres — crime, drama, medicine — right now there are a lot of those series that are led by women, whether it be Glenn Close on Damages or Grey's Anatomy...
Arquette: I think it's always great when there's good work out there, I guess, and I think it helps other actresses. The people that make decisions are bankers, 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 [in the past]. So when someone goes in a room and pitches something as being "like The Closer," you know, look at how well The Closer has done for them.
Weber: Especially on television, it's not so much a patriarchy; it always seems that there's a smart, strong woman calling the shots and her doofus husband. In the sitcom world, it's almost a cliché that the women have the common sense, going back to The Honeymooners. Plus, I just think the writing is getting better. Television is getting much more complex. The writers ask for more of a commitment from their audiences. They don't really allow you to just check in once in a while; you have to follow these shows. I think that is working across the board in both men and women's favor.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of doofus husbands, Jake, what will Joe be up to this season?
Weber: Oh, Joe's in a good spot; he's got this investor who's putting up the dough for him to run his own company. And he's working in a big fancy warehouse. He has some problems finding people to work for him because he's had some bad luck with that. But he's in a good spot; he's in a big pot of honey this year.
TVGuide.com: Any favorite episodes or scenes so far this year?
Weber: I really liked [an episode that Arquette directed]. I thought it was a really good storyline. There were some directorial problems...
Arquette: You rat bastard.
Weber: She's got this weird fixation with food. She makes her actors eat food all the time.
Arquette: I do.
Weber: Every f---ing scene that I was in I had to be eating an apple or a piece of pizza or I don't know what else.
Arquette: You haven't even seen my cut yet, Jake, so just zip it.
TVGuide.com: Any interesting guest stars coming up?
Arquette: We have some great guest stars: Blythe Danner, David Morse, Tracy Pollan, James Van Der Beek, Amanda Detmer, Kevin Corrigan, my son Enzo Rossi and Kurtwood Smith.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any pie-in-the-sky guest-star casting fantasies?
Arquette: I've always wanted to explore Allison's relationship with her mom, which we've never seen. She alludes sometimes to how lonely she was in discovering her abilities and how she wants it to be different for her daughter. I was always hoping that we could get Gena Rowlands. That's one of my little private fantasies.
Weber: I have a fantasy...
TVGuide.com: Let's try to keep it to the casting fantasies, OK?
Weber: It involves Juliette Binoche as my new French assistant.
Watch full episodes of Medium in our Online Video Guide