Saturday, August 8, 2015
Every Haunting Hour Ever #4: The Dead Body
Original Airdate: December 25, 2010
Director: James Head
From what I understand, this is one of those episodes that gets a lot of praise from fans, with some even declaring it a masterpiece. Though that does raise a couple of questions. One of which would be "Is this episode really that good?". Before I get into my thoughts, let's check out the story.
Will Johnston (Brendan Meyer) strikes a deal with Jake Skinner (Matt Angel), the new kid, to take care of some bullies. Will soon learns Jake is a ghost that died in a fire because of some bullies. They go back in time to the day Jake was going to die. Will saves Jake, only to realize that he'd been tricked. When Will perishes in the fire that had killed Jake, Jake begins the rest of his life again while Will takes Jake's place and becomes the ghost.
One thing that makes this episode good are the characters. For the most part, almost all of the characters seem a bit cliche but they still manage to be likeable in their own ways. For example, Jake can be a bit of a jerk towards Will sometimes but when the episode gives his back story, it's rather tragic and he becomes a character that the audience can sympathize with. Will, while being a bit shy and awkward, is still a nice guy who wants to get back at Travis and Chang who constantly pick on him but isn't interested in physical violence in order get what he wants.
Another thing that makes this episode good is the chemistry between Will and Anna. For one thing, it's actually quite believable as Anna kind of acts as a foil to Will in a sense that she actually tries to stand up to the bullies that are picking on Will when the class is on a field trip in the woods. The chemistry also seems very natural and not once throughout the entire episode did I say to myself "Man! This is so forced!" Like I do with a lot of teenage romance stories.
The other thing that makes this episode good is that because it has a lot of character development, the scares it sets up are quite effective. For example, towards the end of the episode, Will is transported back to 1961, the year that Jake died and he witnesses some bullies throwing firecrackers at Jake, who is locked in some sort of cage. When the bullies throw their last firecracker, the gym ends up catching on fire and Will goes to save Jake. When Will frees Jake from the cage, Will is stuck in there as a bunch of smoke and flames prevent him from seeing the exit. A big flaming cabinet eventually falls on him and it immediately cuts to a black screen. When I saw this happen, I ended up jumping back and shouting "Woah!". It's quite shocking because it plays with people's expectations of the main character getting out OK. The twist ending helps play with this expectation as well because the audience thinks he survived but when Anna goes through Will, the audience finds out that he has died.
Despite all of the good things I said about this episode, there is one glaring issue I had with it. That would be none other than Travis and Chang. These are by far the weakest characters in the episode because they seem rather one dimensional. Granted, Travis does get his comeuppance but there are still other issues with these characters that contribute to their one dimensionalness. For one thing, it is said that Travis and Chang pick on Will because they like to "Scare little wusses like him". Yet in the episode, Will is the only student who gets picked on by these two. If that's the case, then how come Will so special that Travis and Chang apparently have no time to pick on other kids? Because he's the main character?
Overall, The Dead Body is a memorable episode that has a lot to like about it. I can see why some people love this episode and consider it to be on of their favorites. Would I call this a masterpiece? Not necessarily as it does have 1 or 2 glaring issues that may turn some people off from watching it. Regardless, I still enjoyed watching this episode and felt it was worth my time.
Overall Grade: A-