The USA Network series The Dead Zone is based very loosely on the early Stephen King novel or the film with Martin Sheen. Johnny still goes into a coma and comes out with psychic abilities. He even meets the infamous Senate candidate destined to destroy the world. The original tale and this surprising series ends there. This show is more about Johnny using his abilities for good whenever he can. One of the best episodes of the series, “Zion”, actually shows us why this show has varied from the original story. …e find out that it was meeting Bruce, a physical therapist who was not in the original story, that kept him from the self-destructive path King had outlined for him.
Anthony Michael-Hall’s performance is one that has to grow on you. I have to admit I was a little put off the first couple of episodes from season one. Something about his portrayal does tend to rope you in. These episodes are light years ahead of anything from Season One.
Johnny Smith (Michael-Hall) was in a terrible car accident that left him in a coma for 6 years. When he finally awoke he found that his fiancee (deBoer) is now married to the county Sheriff (Bruno). His mother is dead, and her estate has been taken over by the local TV minister, Rev. Purdy (David Ogden Stiers). He now has psychic visions whenever he touches someone.
The audio is a priceless Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Although dialogue dominates a good portion of the series, Johnny’s visions provide an excellent opportunity for subtle and atmospheric ambient sounds. The mix is flawless. Sub range is quite impressive for a cable television show. This is what I like to call high definition audio.
The video presentation here is nearly as impressive as the audio. Each episode is presented in HD 16 x 9 wide screen format. Colors are near reference, and the black levels are impressive. There is only the occasional shimmer to mar an otherwise excellent transfer. The image holds up to some of the finest feature film prints I’ve encountered.
Let me say that this release should be a model of how TV on DVD should be done. The bonus features are legion. Every episode comes with good extra stuff. We’re talking commentary on EVERY EPISODE! These aren’t the cheesy put you to sleep tracks of the assistant to the 2nd assistant’s assistant’s dog trainer. They feature top cast members and many of the legendary guest stars like Robert Culp and Louis Gossett Jr.
Most episodes come with a 3-4 minute interview with the show’s guest star or other pivotal person. You can access these from the scene selection menu of the episode.
“Making of an Episode” is over an hour long. It traces the show making process through the following stages: Script, Casting, Costumes, Locations, F/X Meetings, Editing, F/x Sequences, and finally Sound. Each stage of the process is examined in rare detail. The crewmembers responsible for each department guide you through their area of expertise.
There are over 20 minutes of deleted scenes from 6 different episodes. There are also tons of storyboards and cast and crew bio information. The bio stuff is available on all of the sets discs.
The menus manage all of this great stuff in an easy to navigate fashion.
I am more impressed with the whole DVD package than I am with the show itself. If you’re a fan of this series this is as good as any DVD set for TV has gotten. If you’re not a fan yet, these DVD’s offer a great opportunity to see the show in a superior format to its USA broadcasts. In days of studios cutting back, this set shines like a beacon in a dark cloudy sky. All of you studio mucketymucks out there: “I wish you could see what I see”.
Special Features List
- Audio commentaries on every episode
- 3-4 minute interview per episode
- Making of an Episode featurette
- 20 minutes of deleted scenes
- Cast and crew bio information