Anthony Michael Hall steps into Christopher Walken’s considerable shoes as Johnny Smith, a man who wakes up after years in a coma to discover that not only has life moved on without him, but he has psychic powers, and with them comes visions of politician Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery, taking on the role essayed by Martin Sheen in the Cronenberg film) bringing about some kind of apocalypse. Smith’s struggle against Stillson makes up the central arc of the series, and this season…opens with Smith trying to stop his friend Rebecca from attempting to assassinate Stillson, and act that will result in her death.
Four seasons, and the Stillson storyline is ongoing? Shades of the one-armed man. Fortunately, in the same spirit as The X Files, The Dead Zone takes plenty of time outs from its principle mythology to have Smith get involved in myriad other adventures thanks to his psychic powers. As with other shows with complicated, ongoing arcs, this can be rather hard to follow for new viewers.
Some very peculiar things going on here, with the very good mixing with the puzzlingly bad. There isn’t much going on as far as sound FX are concerned, so the 5.1 doesn’t have that much to do, except when it comes to the score. And this is where odd things happen. There are some wonderfully atomospheric moments, but the mix over the opening credits is very dull, with the music relegated exclusively to the front speakers. The opening narration is also barely audible.
The colours are very warm. Contrasts and blacks are both very strong, as are the flesh tones. Grain and edge enhancement aren’t problems. The image is, for the most part, acceptably sharp. That said, there is still some room for improvement in this department, though the overall picture is better than that of many TV offerings. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio is also welcome.
The opening and closing episodes have commentary tracks, where Hall is joined by the writer and various exec-producers. That many voices leads to some confusion and silliness, but they do settle down and provide some interesting information too. Deleted scenes turn up on Discs 1 and 2. Disc 2 has a featurette on production design, which, while promotional, isn’t a waste of time either. Disc 3 has a “Tribute to Michael Piller”, one of the creators and executive-producers.
It ain’t Cronenberg, and Hall is no Walken, but it does fit rather well into the Stephen King universe.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Production Design Featurette
- Tribute to Michael Piller
- Deleted Scenes