Powered by i.TV
July 25, 2014

The Dead Zone: Lotto Fever

by Jen Creer, posted Jul 24th 2006 2:45PM
midnight cowboy(S05E06) This episode of The Dead Zone was pretty fun -- it was still stand alone, but I can see that I am in the minority about that, so I tried to roll with it and enjoy it. One of the best things about this episode was its homage to Midnight Cowboy. Johnny pairs up with a shorter actor (Benjamin Ratner), and the way the actors are dressed and the way they interact is very reminiscent to Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy. Am I the only one who saw that? They reversed the colors the actors were wearing (Johnny wore black, and Boyd Lumely wore tan), but I'm pretty sure they were doing a tribute.

Anyway. Back to this week's episode! Sarah Bannerman (Nicole deBoer) fans will be happy to see that she is back, and she is just as perky and chipper as ever. I admit that I love Sarah Bannerman, so I was happy to see her back. Nicole deBoer has a rather thankless job as Johnny's former fiancee and the mother of his child. She doesn't have much to do on the series now, but it would be very hard to explain a permanent absence if she disappeared. So, she pops in from time to time and chops things up in the kitchen. That can't be very interesting for the actress.

This episode sees Johnny returning from a trip to Boston. He is tired and wants a shower and his pillow. So, he turns down an invitation to have dinner at the Bannermans' home. Just as he hangs up the phone, the doorbell rings, and a man with a gun charges into his home, wondering if Johnny remembers him. Well, one touch is all Johnny needs to remember. He ran into mailman Boyd Lumley (this episode, has it all, including the armed, unhinged mail carrier) at a convenience store. Johnny had been on a pay phone trying to get a phone number for Chinese food. Why was he on a pay phone instead of his cell phone? The entire episode hinges on whether or not Johnny had been on that pay phone, but doesn't really explain why, in this world of cell phones, he wasn't using his cell... But we will suspend our disbelief and carry on.

Boyd the mail carrier recognizes Johnny and asks Johnny to give him the winning numbers for the lottery. Johnny explains that that is not how his gift works, and escapes Boyd's clutches, leaving behind the telephone number for the Chinese restaurant. Boyd takes the number and plays the lottery with it and wins. But Boyd is not the brightest bulb in the block. He spends the money too soo, too fast. He lives fast and he's about to die young and leave a... well, an okay-looking corpse. He has borrowed money from a top money shark, and Johnny sees an iminent vision of Boyd on his knees, being shot, execution style, by a hit man.

So, Boyd, blaming Johnny for his troubles, decides that Johnny is his best bet for fixing all of the problems. I was also vaguely reminded of Tom Cruise's Collateral for some reason. Probably the car, the errands, the darkness.

Boyd and Johnny embark on a number of adventures. Boyd's car is repossessed at a gas station, so they steal a taxi. They change into hideous looking prom/formal clothes and crash a country club party, and rob a CPA, who keeps all of his money in a safe in his house. Then, they start on a farewell tour of Boyd's life. He goes to his estranged wife's house and has a tender moment with his wife and daughter (who has a midnight piano recital they invite Boyd and Johnny to attend. This kid looks like she is in sixth grade, and she is having a midnight piano recital? I will just assume this happens in cities larger than the one I live in, even though Johnny's town in Maine... well, okay, but we are suspending our disbelief, right?). Then, they steal Boyd's wife's car.

In the meantime, while they were at the gas station changing into their prom clothes, they had run into Walt Bannerman, the local sheriff. He knows that Johnny blew off their dinner invitation, so naturally, he is puzzled by seeing Johnny dressed up in a tux at the gas station. Johnny, thinking fast, introduces Boyd Lumley as an old friend from high school. Walt mentions him to Sarah at home, and she doesn't remember a Boyd Lumley, so Walt starts to become suspicious. He is called in to watch security footage of robbers stealing money from a CPA, and bingo, bango, bongo, they figure out that Boyd is holding a gun on Johnny, and start to try to figure out how to catch and stop them.

Boyd goes next to say farewell to his father, who works as a janitor. Boyd tries to give his father money, but his father reproaches him, and wonders how he failed to instill in his son a decent work ethic. I felt like I was watching a scene from my own living room, between my father and my brother... Or my husband and my son. At this point, Johnny starts to figure out that Boyd is behaving like a man with a death wish, or at least a death suspicion-- plus, there is that vision hanging over them of Boyd being executed. When two thugs attack them with baseball bats in a tunnel, Boyd admits they are postal workers he hired to convince Johnny that he was in danger. Johnny figures out that Boyd's gun isn't loaded, and starts to walk off, but he knows that Boyd is a basically harmless screw up who really is going to get himself killed, so Johnny starts helping Boyd out of the goodness of his heart.

Boyd, the dumbass, has hired a hit man to kill him to his wife and daughter will reap the benefits of a$1M life insurance policy, and has put in a clause that won't let him change his mind unless he has a large sum of money, and I can't remember how much he needed. A million? So, they end up with Johnny playing poker in a game that turns out to have the hit man playing against him.

I must admit that at this point, my eyes start to glaze over. They have crammed so much into this episode, that my brain starts to overload. It's enough when an action feature film puts this much action into an episode, but they expect me to believe that all of this happens in one night? Between the hours of dinner time and midnight, the magic hour, the witching hour, the Cinderella hour, the Midnight Cowboy hour?

Of course, Johnny and Boyd end up running out of the poker game after Johnny exposes an elaborate scheme in which one of the players was cheating, and the hit man pursues them and they find themselves standing right outside the hall where... Boyd's daughter is playing her recital. Which, of course, we can hear, and of course Boyd recognizes as the tune his daughter was practicing earlier in the episode. And of course, Boyd's wife has told Sheriff Bannerman that if Boyd will be anywhere at midnight, he will be at his daughter's concert (even though Boyd told her earlier that he wouldn't). So, The police lights shine on the hitman, just as he is about to kill Boyd and Johnny, and Boyd is taken away in handcuffs.

But at the end of the episode, he is Johnny's mail carrier (uh, can you say stalker?) and everything has all worked out! Because Johnny spoke on Boyd's behalf in court... after Boyd kidnapped Johnny.

Despite my sarcastic tone, I do actually continue to enjoy this show. I think it is indeed possible to enjoy characters and the general scope of the show and still be able to poke fun at the plot holes. I do it all the time with 24, too, but I still tune in every week. It's John Donne's negative capability. I am entertained by these shows, but critiquing them is a fun exercise. I get to use my critical thinking skills, my English Major education, while I am watching. It is, for me, part of the fun. And that is part of why I watch every week, as well. Do you have any shows that you do this with? That you enjoy, even though you can't help but poke fun at them?

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

2 Comments

Filter by:
ann

I agree. So much was going on that I lost interest halfway through. Johnny looked like he outweighed Boyd by 50 -60 lbs, I think he could have taken him at any time. And doesn't Johnny have a security system, a peephole, something on that thick wooden front door? He just opened that door right up and Boyd came flying in with his gun at the ready.

The poker game did bring up the interesting idea that Johnny must be getting his visions from everyday stuff all the time. Jeez, how does he grocery shop or open doors without a constant barrage of insights? Must be exhausting.

I miss Stillson and the creepy villians Johnny used to fight with Walt (like the kidnapper who made the girls dress up for dinner in 50's garb and full make-up. Weird.) I could use a little supernatural stuff again too like the crossing time and dimensions from a few seasons ago. There seemed to be more innovation and imagination in the first few seasons.

July 24 2006 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TedSez

I think you're understating how ridiculous this episode was. Why didn't Johnny bother trying to get away from this nut with a gun during several obvious opportunities? How, exactly, did a restaurant's phone number turn out to be the winning lotto number? (And what state lotto these days has a jackpot of just $1 million?) How exactly did this guy get off with probation after holding Johnny at gunpoint, as well as breaking into someone's house and robbing it? And how did this violent kook get rehired by the Postal Service? (Okay, sadly, maybe that last one's possible.)

This show still has a good concept, but its writers are completely out of ideas. The producers should either start fresh with some good sci-fi/crime scribes or put the whole thing out of its misery.

July 24 2006 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners