''Crossing Over With John Edward'' wins fans with its quirky spiritual messages, says Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated March 29, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
John Edward, Crossing Over With John Edward

Sci Fi’s psychic talk show is a hit

I figured that John Edward, the psychic on the Sci Fi network’s ”Crossing Over With John Edward,” had to be a pretty big deal when my friend and colleague, Dave Karger, came hopping home from the Golden Globe Awards like a bunny on happy pills. ”OH MY GOD,” he said (Dave always talks in capital letters), ”I MET JOHN EDWARD. HE SEES DEAD PEOPLE!”

So this morning, having scored tickets to the show (which airs weeknights at 11 p.m. on Sci Fi and begins syndication on CBS next month), I got up, gathered my dead people around me, and hustled down to the taping, skepticism firmly in hand.

After spending an hour going through metal detectors and security, about 100 of us (that I could see, anyway) were herded into the studio, where we suddenly felt like beauty contestants. Make no mistake about it: Get in front of a medium who is going to choose only a few of you to talk to, and it feels like a zinger of a popularity contest. As he got ”pulled” from person to person with anecdotes about their dead relatives (who are surely no more or less boring than mine) I sat there mentally cursing all my beloveds who have ”passed” before me. ”What’s wrong with you?” I scolded. ”Speak up! Get going! Cut the friggin’ line!”

Alas, my relatives apparently suffer from stage fright, because not a one bashed into Edward’s consciousness. Plenty of other ghostly folks made their presence known, however, and over the course of the five hour taping, I got some pointers on the spirit world.

1. Bossy people are just as bossy in the next life. Forget enlightenment and zen. One woman behind me was reminded of a relative who was never, ever satisfied — especially when cutlery was involved. ”Remember the one who always thought the fork was dirty, even when it went through the dishwasher 14 times?” Edward asked one woman. ”Well, she’s still at it.” (So much for the fantasy that there are no more dishes to be done on the celestial plane.) Then, as if that were not enough, this woman’s entire family would NOT shut up. Every time Edward tried to talk to someone else’s family, here these loudmouths came again, wanting to add one more message or detail.

2. Some spirits are more logo obsessed than Puffy Combs. These spirits couldn’t stop talking about Disneyland, Disneyworld, Tony the Tiger, the Tasmanian Devil, and the Warner Bros. store (owned by EW’s parent company, AOL Time Warner.)

3. Oy, have they got troubles. Colon cancer, lung problems, knee surgery, migraines — you name it, they remember. While they may be pain free now, the litany of health problems seems endless. Not surprising, maybe, given that they’ve all died of something. But who knew the disembodied would still be so focused on bodily ailments?

4. Boy, do they have time on their hands. One stubborn (dead) father badgered his son when he proved unable to come up with who the ”H” person was in the family. The audience was bored, Edward himself seemed bored, and still, this ghost wouldn’t drop it. When the stage manager finally told Edward his time was up, he shrugged helplessly and said, ”This guy’s not done.”

5. God is in the details — and not the very interesting ones. Sure, there were beautiful moments, as when Edward talked to a mother’s teenage son, who died last year. But otherwise, these spirits chose to impart such details as: ”He wants me to talk to you about the person in your family who does their hair very well. It’s something about a toupee or a unique way of dealing with what little hair is left.” Or, ”You had trouble with your coffee this morning. It wasn’t prepared the way you like it.” While I was initially relieved when Edward told us that our accompanying spirits have no interest, as he put it, in ”sex or bathroom chores,” it was a little hard to accept that they politely stand aside while we’re in the shower but come zooming back in to look over our shoulders while we measure the cream in our coffee.

By the end of the taping — Edward does three shows back to back — I had no doubt that he is indeed the real thing. Too many weird, wacko details seemed too dead on for the members of the audience. But I have to admit I was disappointed that all our quirks, hang ups, and obsessions follow us from one life to the next. On the other hand, maybe I’m just bitter that I didn’t get called upon. Tomorrow, I’m screwing up my coffee routine, just to see if anyone notices.

Crossing Over With John Edward

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