JUNE 18, 2006


We're back. Let's hope we have many more seasons to come. Yes!

For the fans, yes, but selfishly, I just love making this show. Every single thing about it and, to be honest, I think we have a lot more stories to tell. In fact, with all the time I've had off, with "Wildfire" down between Seasons 2 and 3, I've been thinking a lot about Seasons 6 and 7 of The Dead Zone.

But that's something for another time. You guys haven't seen Season 5, yet! We're very proud of it. So here's my first blog. Let's hope it doesn't suck...

Shooting two seasons in a row was an interesting challenge that we'd never really faced before. We'd always done 13-episode seasons and we did Season 2.5 -- what we call "the Sexy Summer Six" -- but doing Seasons 4 and 5 without a break was a real marathon, as opposed to the sprint we were used to.

I think it really stretched the boundaries of what we all could do in terms of endurance. But it also gave us a great opportunity. Because we had more episodes to produce, it gave producer Robert Petrovicz and I and the whole team more options, a deeper well of money that we could then move around to really maximize our planning for the overall seasons. Looking back, it really worked out well, I think.

For Seasons 4 and 5, Tommy Thompson was our terrific showrunner. (During the first two seasons it was Michael Piller, my father, and in Season 2.5 and Season 3, it was Karl Schaefer.)

For those of you who don't know, what happens is, after the writers do their initial draft of the script, it goes to the showrunner. He's the guy doing the subsequent drafts of the script through to the final polish that goes to Production as our shooting draft.

After a pass, the producing, studio, and network execs, along with the department heads in Production, all give the showrunner their notes to be incorporated into the final draft. As executive producer, I try to help gather, interpret and even articulate these notes for Tommy.

In our season opener "Forbidden Fruit," Tommy did a great job of really pulling the script together while still maintaining the integrity of the original story and, also, serving all the different goals and agendas of the actors and the network and everyone trying to work to make this the best it could be.

This was one of those episodes that started with a very long script and it was constantly being revised. But even after refining the script and shooting it (see my Director's Blog for more on this), the first cut of the episode was, I think, 11 minutes too long!

In general, I work really closely in Post with the visual effects, the music and all of the cutting to finish the show, but for this episode we actually had two editors. Though it's our season opener, it was the last episode to be shot and we really came up against the Post deadlines in terms of trying to wrap out.

So, Luis Lam started the episode, but since he was still working on finishing up another episode (the season finale, which we'd shot prior), we ended up bringing Dave Rees on. Dave is one of our veteran editors as well as one of our youngest; he started off as an assistant editor in Season 1 - he was literally, like, a computer tech - and, by Season 3, he was a full editor. He was a drummer and it's his rhythm that makes him a great editor.

Dave pretty much stayed with us and has cut many episodes -- and some of the best and most difficult -- from "Precipitate," "Shaman," and "Shadows" (which I also directed) to one this season that Rachel Talalay directed called "Symmetry," which is one of my favorites and, I think, will become a fan favorite.

In "Forbidden Fruit," I was really happy how we ended up with the show that, I felt, maintained the secret and the mystery of what was going on in terms of the poison earrings, and how all the pieces fell into place as much as Johnny had tried to stop them.

Johnny had tried to save Miranda and really thought he was taking down Stillson by exposing Janus' connection to him. But Janus was always one step ahead of him ... and even ahead of Greg Stillson, in this case, who had asked Janus to handle the situation.

There's Stillson's great line: "This is a turning point for us, Malcolm. Don't disappoint me." The viewer didn't know what was going to happen and Stillson didn't know what was going to happen; it was left up to Janus. When Miranda didn't show up at the wedding and they're all standing there at the altar, I think the audience, as well as Stillson and Johnny (who's speeding to get there with Bruce), really didn't know what was going to go down.

That's why I went to slow motion at that moment to really play the emotional reveal for both of these men that, ultimately, really cared for this woman. Miranda became a symbol of what's to come, I think, to the world or humanity and we see another tear at Stillson's soul that's constantly being shredded.

When Johnny looks up at Janus in the window, that moment ... I thought it was such a powerful thing to leave Janus standing there, alone, looking down on him, dealing with the repercussions. He looks at Stillson and we can slowly see how Stillson is going down an even darker path, led by this other man with seeming endless creativity for mayhem and manipulation.

We now see that Stillson and Janus are going to be a great team, and Johnny's going to have to work really, really hard to try to take them down.

I always feel for Stillson, even thought he's bad. It's more than just loving to hate him, I kinda understand why he is the way he is, being his father's son (and now Janus's).

What I love always is that, for Johnny, it's sort of two steps forward, one step back. He now feels even more pressure and more regret and he has more on his shoulders, more of a cross to bear, in every episode as it goes forward. Every time Johnny has a victory, it comes at a price.

In this case, he tried his best and he definitely stopped the wedding ... but not in the way that he could have ever expected.

Until next week,
Shawn Piller

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