Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Dead Zone Season One

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.  It has been revised slightly.

I remember when I first heard about The Dead Zone airing on the USA Network. I had a vague sense that there was a movie and a book that came before it. I’ve since seen the movie, which came out in 1983 and starred Christopher Walken, but I have yet to read the novel, which was written by Steven King and came out in 1979.

The TV story line follows the life of Johnny Smith. Smith has a great life. He was always getting into accidents playing hockey as a kid. He grew up and started working as a teacher. He was even set to marry his sweetheart. Then, he got in a car accident. The next thing he knows, he’s in a hospital about to receive a sponge bath from a nurse. He grabs her arm and is able to see her daughter in trouble. As in the movie, Johnny Smith has been in a coma for six years. He’s now able to have visions of the past, present, and future. The drawback is that his mother’s dead, the love of his life is married to another man, and he has a son that doesn’t know who his real father is.

The first two episodes of season one follow the first half of the movie closely. Basically, Smith gets in an accident, gains his powers, and has to deal with physical therapy and the fact that he’s missing six years in the episode, “Wheel of Fortune.” In “What it Seems,” Smith helps the local sheriff’s department solve a series of murders. From there, the TV show expands on the story. (At least, the story that I remember in the movie.) For instance, Smith gets to serve on a jury in “Unreasonable Doubt.” In “Netherworld,” Smith has to deal with what life would be like without his powers. (Most series that have someone with supernatural powers have an episode like this. It forces the character to embrace his or her gift.)

The season ends with an episode where a man is running for the United States Senate. You get the impression that there’s more to the man than the spit-and-polished image that he tries to present. When Smith touches him, Smith gets some bad vibes. The end of the first season leaves you with the start of a character that we know is going to be trouble. For those that have seen the movie, this is the TV show’s equivalent of Martin Sheen’s character from the movie. I haven’t rented the second season yet, so I don’t know how this is going to play out. (I rented the first season from Netflix.)

Now for the details. Anthony Michael Hall picks up the role of Johnny Smith from Christopher Walken. In the first part of the season, Hall resembles Walken the most. (Notice the hair.) Chris Bruno takes on the role of Sheriff Bannerman. Sarah Bannerman (Bracknell) is played by Nichole De Boer. (You may remember her from the seventh season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.) John L. Adams plays Bruce Lewis, Smith’s physical therapist. David Ogden Stiers has a recurring role as the Reverend Gene Purdy. Kristen Dalton also appears as reporter Dana Bright.

The show doesn’t rely too heavily on Smith’s powers. A lot of the show is about him using his powers to help others, such as a high-school hockey player who may die on the ice. However, Smith also has to deal with the fact that he lost six years of his life. He wasn’t even supposed to wake up at all. His fiancee married another man, although they still have feelings for each other. His mother died and he never had a chance to deal with it first-hand and just now has to mourn her. Then there’s the issue of whether or not he really wants his new-found powers. (Even after he has to deal with losing them, it’s hard having them in an always-on state.)
The first season’s thirteen episodes are split up on four discs. Disc one has episodes 1-3; disc two has episodes 4-6; disc three has episodes 7-9; disc four has episodes 10-13. (As with many shows that go to DVD or VHS, the episodes are arranged by production number as opposed to air date.) There are also behind-the-scenes features on each of the discs. I wasn’t really that interested in them. Mostly, it was stuff on how the show was written and produced and other things that go into the making of the show. It’s good for someone who wants to pick up trivia on the show, but you don’t really have to watch it to appreciate the show. 

No comments :