The Battle at Shadow Ridge
|"The Battle at Shadow Ridge"|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Michael Grossman|
|Written by||David Graziano|
|Original air date||November 21, 2003|
While in Virginia investigating a phenomenon known as "ghost lights", Paul and Alva head to Shadow Valley to talk to Ginnie Jacobson, whose two young children, Renata and Gus, have reported seeing the ghost of a Confederate soldier in the woods outside their house while walking home from school. Paul and Alva attempt to convince the kids, who are too scared to even sleep, that the man they saw was not a ghost. As their mother becomes more frustrated with trying to console the kids, Ginnie becomes more frustrated with SQ. The team discovers that because of a rip in a time hole, the worlds of the past and present are starting to intertwine. The two times becoming more and more visible and realistic to one another, which includes Paul being shot with a 140-year-old bullet. In order to prevent the two times from fully merging, Paul and Alva must inform the soldier's ghost of the fates of his family members and finally lay him to rest.
There are some deleted scenes from this episode on the Miracles DVD release further explaining the disappearance of Evelyn in this episode. These scenes explore Evelyn's home life, with her son, Matty, and trying to organize a birthday party for him; also explored is Evelyn's attempts to get Matty's father, John, to appear at his party.
"The Battle at Shadow Ridge" was directed by Michael Grossman and written by David Graziano, who creator Richard Hatem described as having the most interesting past of anyone on the Miracles production team, "who was willing to share, anyway". Hatem recalled on the DVD commentary for this episode that Graziano constantly kept the writing staff entertained with bizarre stories and strange conversations, and would often walk into his office "and say something like, 'Have you ever heard of a lithopedion?'" Hatem and Graziano spent long hours going through Hatem's books and discussing the various supernatural legends each had become familiar with. Graziano says that "Hollywood is full of nerds, but it's unusual to come across a nerd who's composed of the same stuff as you."
Graziano says that the idea for "The Battle at Shadow Ridge" was born out of a similarly "strange conversation" with Hatem about a phenomenon known as ghost lights. Graziano described ghost lights as being "a dime and dozen," and Hatem says ghost light sightings have been reported nightly for more than 200 years in an area between Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas known as "The Spooksville Triangle," along a street called Devil's Promenade Road, approximately eleven miles south of Joplin, Missouri. As a result of how relatively universal the phenomenon seemed and the various folk tales associated with it, Hatem felt it was a good idea for an episode. Hatem also recalls that the idea for the episode came about in July 2002, very early in the development of the series, before production had actually begun. Graziano came to Hatem with an idea that a group of civil war re-enactors would cross paths with a "ghost battalion" of soldiers, and one of the re-enactors would be shot with what turns out to be a 140-year-old bullet. "The Battle at Shadow Ridge" was written using a similar framework of present day people interacting with those from the past, and the idea of someone in the present day being shot by someone in the past was retained in the scene in which Henry Tucker's bullet travels through time and injures Paul.
Graziano credits Hatem with the idea for the scene in which Keel compares time and its various layers to the pages of a newspaper: if coffee is spilled on the front page, the one underneath starts to become visible, but when it dries out again, the second page is no longer visible. This metaphor was used to explain "time slips," a phenomenon in which two events from vastly different times could seemingly be happening in the same physical space during periods of abnormal humidity. Hatem recalls reading about time slips in "The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits" by John and Ann Spencer, and was instantly reminded of this when Graziano pitched his original idea. Graziano says there is a "fine line" between so-called "anniversary hauntings," where spirits reappear at the same time every year, and time slips as seen in the episode. Hatem says the episode's emotional peaks were intentionally designed to be the moments in which the time slip was "in full swing".
The scene at the "Circle Mart" convenience store as a whole is based on a story Hatem read about an area of New Mexico called Trail Creek, where a man who went out into the woods to cut down Christmas trees reported being woken up by the sound of a wagon train moving through his campsite. It turned out that the area was in fact one that wagon trains would have travelled through 100 years prior. Hatem was also fascinated by the idea that others had reported hearing these sounds and they almost always seemed to occur right before a blizzard, suggesting weather was a factor in the event. In addition, Hatem owned a book called "The Vertical Plane" in which author Ken Webster claimed that a man in England who bought an old house in the 1980s received messages on his home computer from the man who lived in the house 400 years earlier. Graziano liked the idea of using a simple object like a circle for the store's logo because it was a shape that would have been both recognizable to Henry Tucker as well as suggested something heavenly. Hatem recalled that an early idea was for Henry to see the golden arches of a McDonald's sign instead, but was unable to be used for legal reasons.
The exteriors of the Jacobson house were filmed at The Woodbury Mansion on Woodbury Road in Altadena, California. Hatem, who lives nearby in Pasadena, says he still drives by the house quite frequently. Much of the show ended up being filmed in Altadena, and Hatem says a lot of TV shows and movies film there because "it's one of the few places in California that looks like somewhere else - there's not a lot of beaches and palm trees and not a lot of traffic, and a lot of older houses [with] a lot of different architectural styles". Graziano referred to Altadena as "Anytown, USA". He also recalls filming parts of the episode near a ranch owned by actress Tippi Hedren, and the sound of her lions roaring could often be heard. Filming of the civil war scenes took place over three days in a canyon 90 minutes outside of Los Angeles.
Guest stars in "The Battle at Shadow Ridge" included Susan Yeagley as Ginnie Jacobson and Andrew Kavovit as Henry Tucker. While he says it doesn't necessarily show in her character, Hatem described Yeagley as "remarkably funny" and Graziano called her "incredibly nice". Hatem recalled in the DVD commentary being amused to learn that one of Kavovit's significant previous credits was playing David Cassidy in The David Cassidy Story.
Ginnie Jacobson's attempts to quell her children's fears about "the man in the woods" were intended to parallel a deleted subplot (scenes of which can be found on the Miracles DVD) in which Evelyn throws a birthday party for her son, whose father doesn't show up. Early in development, Hatem and executive producer David Greenwalt discussed "The Battle at Shadow Ridge" being an episode about "the lies we tell our children," with Graziano specifying that they were lies about subject matter that was both uncomfortable for adults and seemingly unexplainable to kids. When discussing the Jacobson children, Paul makes a reference to Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, which Hatem says was a nod to his sons Owen and Spencer, who were fans of the game at the time. Hatem describes the reference as one of the only in the entire series to modern culture.
- Main Cast
- Guest Cast
- Andrew Kavovit as Henry Tucker
- Susan Yeagley as Ginnie Jacobson
- Steffani Brass as Renata Jacobson
- Paul Butcher as Gus Jacobson
- Casey McFeron as Soldier #1
- Everette Wallin as Soldier #2
- Thomas Newton as Soldier #3
- William Winter as Southern Rock
- Zachary Quinto as Messenger
- Gillian Shure as ATV Girl
- Travis Aaron as ATV Guy
- Martin McClendon as Historian
- David Carpenter as Rural Deputy
- Lisa Gould as File Clerk
- Hatem, Richard (2005). Miracles complete series DVD commentary for the episode "The Battle at Shadow Ridge" (DVD). Shout Factory.
- Graziano, David (2005). Miracles complete series DVD commentary for the episode "The Battle at Shadow Ridge" (DVD). Shout Factory.