Exceedingly Excellent Episodes #1 - The Dead Zone

Every series worth it's salt that runs for more than a single season produces an episode that just defines everything that the series is about. Often these episodes leave you awestruck or make the hairs on your neck raise.

This series will be about those episodes. As such it will often be very spoiler heavy, normally just for the episode in question but sometimes for the season or even the show. As a consequence...

[This post may contain spoilers]

That said let us get onto the very first Exceedingly Excellent Episode (Triple E). The following episode is the one that inspired this entire series and it comes from a moderately popular American show.

The Dead Zone - 205 - Precipitate
I'm going to quote the TV.com/Wikipedia summary here:
"Johnny receives a blood transfusion and starts experiencing the lives of six blood donors, including a homeless man. Johnny must figure out which one is about to be killed and stop it. "
(This version is from the wiki, but the tv.com one is almost identical - I have no idea why the wikipedia feels it imporant to note one of the donors is a homeless man.)

That summary is right on the head for the plot, essentially that's all there is too the episode. Some could even argue that just about every episode for The Dead Zone could be boiled down to something similar. But that is the format of the show.

Johnny gets a vision, Johnny decides to change outcome of vision.

Precipitate doesn't deviate from that format, in fact it's stripped back from a lot of the baggage in the show. Only Johnny and Bruce are involved in the majority of this episode (along with the guest stars and extras) and it's the raw simplicity of this that works. Johnny's visions of the six people have told him much about each of them, but not enough to tell which one will die.
Time and time again he's incorrect about his assumptions with each potential victim, but despite this his interference improves the lives of each donor.

It's more than possible to figure out which person is the donor that Johnny and Bruce need to save quite early on. There are several subtle clues dropped into the episode at key points. But to be honest, doing so would detract from the ride. A ride which cumulates in a truely fantastic set piece, where each donor's changed destiny has a part to play in saving the life of the sixth.

The moment where it all comes together is wonderfully written, shot, acted and edited. All of the running around and failed attempts come together in one beautiful moment. You realise that Johnny only saved the sixth donor by helping the previous five change their lives for the better.

In truth that's what The Dead Zone is about for me, how one person's actions can alter the course of others for the better. Johnny leaves having not just directly saved one life, but improving the lives of everyone he had a vision about.


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