JULY 29, 2007
by Dana Greenblatt
Hello loyal fans of The Dead Zone!
Let me begin by saying that I am incredibly daunted by writing this blog – you are all extremely passionate about The Dead Zone and it seems that nothing sparks more controversy than the Johnny/Sarah relationship. Given that "Numb" ends with a kiss between Johnny and Sarah, I can only imagine the heated response – both positive and negative – this episode will inspire. So... instead of writing about this episode specifically, I'd like to talk about Season 6 in general. (If you really want to know my thoughts on "Numb," I did one of those interviews that all the writers have done this year, but I doubt mine is as entertaining as Sam Ernst & Jim Dunn's for "Re-Entry.")
As many of you know, Seasons 4 and 5 were written and produced in 2005. This means that, when USA ordered a sixth season in the fall of 2006, all of the writers had moved on to other jobs. Scott Shepherd was hired as the new show-runner, and he assembled an entirely new team of writers. Our first assignment: watch all 67 episodes of the series and read the book.
When the writers began working on Season 6 back in January, Scott, Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan had already pitched a thumbnail sketch of what they envisioned for this season of The Dead Zone to USA: return to the more character-driven stories of the early seasons, clean up the Armageddon plot because it had started to feel like a little bit of wheel-spinning, and find ways to complicate the relationship between Johnny and Sarah because things had gotten a little too simple in our hero's personal life.
It was our job as a staff to figure out how to flesh out that thumbnail sketch in a way that would both ring true for characters and plots that had been around for five years and also breathe fresh life into the series. We soon knew how this season would start, and how it would end. Our greatest challenge was determining all the intervening steps that would get us from Episode 1 to Episode 13 – how would we achieve a season-long arc that both allowed our characters to evolve in new and interesting ways and also entertained and satisfied our fans?
As basic as it sounds, the foundation for coming up with story ideas is asking, "What if?" What if John Smith no longer thought he had to stop the end of the world – what would he do? What if Stillson was no longer under the control of villains like his father or Malcolm Janus – would he still be a dangerous man? What if Walt were out of the picture – would Johnny, Sarah and JJ ever be a "normal" family, or does the very fact of Johnny's gift make that impossible? These were all things we wanted to explore about the main characters of The Dead Zone this season.
"Numb" is the midpoint of Season 6 and was therefore designed to spin us into a back half that delves deeper into what Walt was investigating when he died, what those "feelings" JJ sometimes gets are, and why Johnny stopped getting visions of Armageddon. Thank you for sticking with us this year and indulging our what-ifs. We hope you enjoy the rest of the season!