Television: Ghosts in the Machine

Specters aren't as spooky as they used to be, as programmers discover the softer side of death

You know something weird is going on in the afterlife when the dead get their own talk show. But there they are, twice a day, on Sci-Fi's new Crossing Over with John Edward, using the host, a regular-Joe medium, to greet, reminisce with and bust the chops of loved ones in the studio audience. Nor do the dead walk only on basic cable. On series as disparate as Providence, Ally McBeal, Soul Food and The X-Files, apparitions of departed loved ones offer advice and solace. On the WB's Dead Last, scheduled for next year, a rock band will spend its offstage...

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