The Dead Zone: The House

Johnny: "I wouldn't call them ghosts, although I can't really explain why Elvis and Marilyn Monroe were at the house."

Just offhand, I'd say that much blood in a bathtub is not good.

This was a ghost story that at first seemed like a murder mystery. How did Johnny's mother really die? Did Reverend Purdy, who benefited greatly from her death, have something to do with it?

David Ogden Stiers was just wonderful. His subtle, ambiguous reactions to questions about Vera's death throughout, capped by his devastating reaction to her suicide in Johnny's vision, finally gave us the answer to what was really going on inside Purdy. It takes a special kind of man to keep such a painful thing a secret. Especially from Johnny, who at first, and quite understandably, treated him like a criminal.

Not only is Purdy a remarkably good guy, but we discovered that Dana Bright has a heart, too. She's showing a lot of interest in, and compassion for, Johnny. She perversely told Johnny not to trust her, even while she was helping him. This is an interesting woman.

The incidents with the neighborhood kids and Johnny's vision of the death of Lindsay's brother at first appeared to be an unrelated "B" plot, but in the end, even though it was sparked by touching his mother's will, I realized that Johnny's visions of his own mother's suicide may also have been jump-started by the suicidal thoughts of Lindsay's mother. Johnny may already be tired of dealing from the fallout of his gift, but its value is clear.

Bits and pieces:

-- I doubt that this show has a big budget, but the effects are always terrific. Johnny's visions are becoming more unpredictable all the time. Here, they were part of his daily life. Putting the vision ghost characters in costume so that we couldn't see their faces all that well was excellent, excellent writing.

-- This was the only glimpse we've gotten so far of Johnny's father, Herb, who was a major character in the book, but in the series, died when Johnny was small.

-- Confusingly enough, even though we saw Dominic Louis as Johnny's son in the opening saga sell ("my son doesn't know who I am), a new actor was credited as playing "Little Johnny Bannerman" (Spencer Achtymichuk). And I don't think we actually saw him in the Mighty Clams sequence in this episode.

-- Bruce is more than just a sidekick. He's a real friend, and good for Johnny ("Don't apologize for being who you are"). He still kids about making money from Johnny's gift, but he's almost certainly not serious.

Quotes:

Johnny: "Since when did I turn into Boo Radley, huh?"

Purdy: "God has spoken to me about Johnny, Dana."
Dana: "Really? E-mail or burning bush?"

Walt: "I'm going to need evidence. Actual evidence from our own planet."

Bruce: "Why do white people always stay in the damn house?"

Three out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

ChrisB said...

The DVDs are all over the place! This was episode six in the DVDs as well as being the sixth that aired, but I haven't seen 1.05 yet. No worries, it's just interesting.

I agree that David Ogden Stiers did a wonderful job in this episode. I struggle with him, however, because I am a huge M*A*S*H fan. He will always be Charles Emerson Winchester III to me, no matter what else he does.

I am really enjoying the growing friendship (if that is the right word) between Johnny and Dana. I still don't completely trust her and suspect that she may have a hidden motive, but she was lovely in this episode.

I love the way the writers have Johnny interact with children. He always treats them with respect and doesn't condescend to them. He was marvelous with Lindsay and I loved the way he braved going into a house where a door had literally been slammed in his face to save her mother's life. What a guy!