Originally I was just going to review the first season DVD of this show but while browsing it I decided I should watch a few episodes to remind myself of what the show was like in the early days. Also it would be the first time I've watched it on DVD despite the fact that I've had them sat on my shelf for nearly a year now. The show didn't make it into my top 50 shows because I was feeling exceptionally bitter about it's cancellation, but I now realise it probably should be. There is an 'Exceedingly Excellent Episode' review about one of the second season episodes though. My favourite episode of the show... One that still gives me chills.
Additionally as the show has just premiered on ION Television (16th of June) and will be shown three times a week this feels like a good time to try and explain why you should get into this show.
The Dead Zone is a TV series based on the Stephen King book of the same name. It stars Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny Smith, a man who has/had his own perfect life in 1996. He's engaged to a beautiful woman (Sarah played by Nicole de Boer), he loves working as a teacher and he's happy to live his entire life without changing a thing. Unfortunately for Johnny he is hit by a truck while travelling home and ends up in a coma with severe brain trauma, so bad that it's speculated he'll never wake up as his perception centers are shot. But six years later he does indeed suddenly wake up, he wakes up to a world that's the same but different. He discovers that his fiance has married the county Sherriff Walt Bannerman (played by Chris Bruno), that she has had Johnny's son and they're raising him as Walt's.
To make matters worse it seems that the damage to Johnny's brain has caused him to start using a normally dormant part of his brain for cognitive functions, a section that's normally considered a 'dead zone' in most human's brains. This has the unfortunate side effect of altering Johnny's perception, when he touches people and items he now gets visions, sometimes of the future, sometimes of the past. Visions that are always important to someone.
Gradually Johnny rehabilitates himself with the aid of his physio and friend Bruce (played by John L. Adams). Bruce is a character of exceptional note in this series because he did not exist in the book or the Christopher Walken movie and the Johnny Smith in those two versions ends up losing his mind in events that are worth watching/reading about. Bruce is not only the most likable character in the series but he's also the most important influence on Johnny's life. Bringing perspective to events and levelling out Johnny when things get too much.
Johnny struggles with returning to his old life, his visions are invasive and compelling. They are revealed pretty early on to the public as Johnny's nature is such that he feels the need to help others. This divides people up between those who fear him, sceptics and those who come to trust and believe in his visions. The reactions of his community are difficult for Johnny to deal with in the early days.
Johnny continues with his life and 'solves' his visions when they arise until he meets a young and charismatic man called Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery) who's running for election. While shaking his hand Johnny sees a vision of Washington D.C. just dissappearing, it is a vision of some kind of apocalypse that will be caused by Stillson's actions.
The upcoming apocalypse and Stillson's involvement in it forms the major thrust of The Dead Zone metaplot. This divides the episodes into two kinds, ones that deal with Greg Stillson (which normally happen at the start and end of each season) and ones that deal with everyday life for Johnny (mostly one offs).
The first thing that strikes you about this show it's it's just beautiful, the camera work, the music, the characters, the setting, the stories. Everything about it is just beautiful and light. Considering the show is based on a Stephen King horror novel the show is a remarkable piece of beauty and hope. One of the major underlying themes of the show is about just how much better Johnny makes people's lives. While he himself might not have the ideal life anymore he's able to touch and help so many people with his ability that it's clear the world is a better place for his existence.
It's hard not to fall in love with this show when you watch it, everything about it is just wonderful. If you enjoy the paranormal, detective shows, shows about the difficulty of dealing with loss, unrequited love or huge sweeping questions like "What if we could change things for the better?" "What if you knew someone was going to do something terrible, how could you stop them?" and the like you should check out The Dead Zone. It's one of those forgotten gems that really deserves a higher profile than it has. Do yourself a favour and give it a long hard look as it's a spectacular show.
The IMDB rates TDZ as an 8/10 while tv.com has it as a 9.1 (warning the tv.com episode guide spoilers a big plot point about the 6th season right on it's front page, so avoid it if possible.)