The Dead Zone

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Films and Television' started by Rogue1-and-a-half, Feb 13, 2006.

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  1. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Don't know how you guys feel about this television series. While it can't approach the genius of King's original work, I have enjoyed what I've seen so far . . .

    I've viewed the entire first season on DVD and have the second season on order from Netflix, so I think I'll just post my thoughts about each episode in turn.

    Feel free to either discuss the episodes I'm talking about, the series as a whole, or the new episodes when they begin to air.

    Wheel of Fortune

    Okay, so here we go . . . fan of the book, of course. Somewhat less so of the film though Walken and Sheen were magnificent, Cronenberg showed marvelous restraint and Michael Kamen?s score is an essential. So, we?ll see how the series strikes me.

    Again, this is my introduction to the series and I intend to walk through the whole thing. I welcome response from you guys who love the series and have seen it all, but no spoilers please. Oblique references are okay, but, please, for my sake, couch spoilers in obtuse language. Thanks.

    This is, of course, the first episode. I?ll just go through and make remarks as they come to me, I guess.

    The blessing and curse of this episode is that it is introductory in nature. So we open with a scene showing Johnny?s first experience, after a fall on the ice, cribbed straight from the novel, but significantly changed. From there, a quick segue to 20 years later to etch Johnny?s relationship with Sarah.

    I?m really at something of a loss here as to how to talk logically but succinctly about this episode. How about we try this: plot, character, adherence to text, all around quality. How?s that strike you? We?ll try it.

    The plot:

    This first episode hews very closely to the novel, which is a good thing. It restores the wheel of fortune sequence, which the earlier film omitted, but omits the earlier sequence with the halloween mask. The episode is very effective, particularly in the sequences surrounding the accident, which feel very mythic and tragic. Changes to the book will be addressed under the character heading, since most of the changes really fall in that area.

    I really hoped that they would take the time to really get into the minutiae of the book and really treat this series less like a series and more like a mini-series. And it does appear they are going to do that. Particularly fine was the single mention of Greg Stilson here. No need to rush . . . plenty of time, but let?s slowly start setting things up. Beautiful.

    Character:

    One of the things I had hoped the television show would go into was the dynamic between Johnny and his parents. So, imagine my surprise when I saw that they were both radically different from the novel. His mother, the fanatically disturbed figure of the novel, is dead by the time he comes out of the coma. And the ?father? figure is a stepfather, brilliantly played with absolutely gorgeous ambiguity, by David Ogden Stiers. And, while the novel?s characters were brilliant, I have to throw props to the writers and also to Stiers for making Purdy a fascinating and intriguing character. Again, NO SPOILERS PLEASE. ;)

    Also, an interesting change in making Walt Bannerman, the sheriff, Sarah?s husband. I think this is necessary, given the serial nature of the show and I have no problem with it. And, of course, the idea of the child being Johnny?s son is a new one as well and, again, no problems here.

    By and large, I am pleased. The show refuses to gloss over difficult ideas. The most powerful scenes here are character driven: Johnny and Sarah?s conversation in the garden (which jumps beautifully through time and space) and the doctor?s reunion with his mother (a scene that is absolutely amazing).

    Most interesting, in fact, is Reverend Purdy, who is played with just the right ambiguity by Stiers. His reaction shots are genius, particularly the scene in which he learns of Johnny?s recovery and then as he watches from an exam room as Johnny demonstrates his talents. There?s thinking, deep thinking going on behind that
  2. Aphelpsdisiac Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2003
    star 1
    I was a big fan of the series. Especially the first two seasons. I had trouble catching episodes of the most recent season, although it wasn?t due to any lack of interest. Mostly I can?t stay up too late anymore, with my schedule.
  3. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    What it Seems

    Plot:

    This one picks up another plot from the film, that of the serial killer. As such it brings Johnny face to face, not only with Walt Bannerman, but with the terrible responsibility and fragility of his visions.

    The plot is well handled and I?ll talk a little more about it in the next section.

    Character:

    In this episode, Johnny is forced to confront what the original film called The Dead Zone: the ability to change his visions. This serial killer plot is lifted straight from the book, pretty well intact, and it allows Hall to take Johnny to an incredibly dark place and he does the disturbing section of the book justice with his twitchy and haunted performance. Particularly in the final moments, after he has found the body and he ruminated with Bruce about how his actions saved a life but also cost another life . . . well, this is the blessing and the curse of the calling and Hall really makes you feel the weight of the responsibility Johhny must feel.

    But this episode truly belongs to Chris Bruno who proves himself a fabulous actor in his role as Walt Bannerman. His unease with Johnny, his fear of losing his family to Johnny, his openly antagonistic confrontations with Johnny, that hilariously realistic and awkward lunch scene . . . Bruno owns this episode with his masterful work. He keeps Walt?s emotions a level below, letting us, not see the emotions, but see Walt hiding the emotions. And the conclusion as he finally comes to respect Johnny and Johnny?s gift is truly moving: ?You owe him an apology,? delivered perfectly, beautifully.

    David Ogden Stiers continues to fascinate as Reverend Purdy and, though his role here is small, he makes the most of it. And, of course, the introduction of Kristen Nelson as Dana Bright, a slightly stereotypical character, but the ending still manages to be downbeat.

    The character of Frank Dodd is hardly gone into, a reflection of the rush to wrap up the plot, rather than drag it out over several episodes. This is okay, but not as I would have liked it.

    All Around Quality:

    This episode is solid one. It advances all the major relationships, adds a new one and mimics a fabulous section of the book. It?s dark and ends on a beautifully downbeat note. It?s a fabulous exploration of Johnny?s powers and the actors are on top of their game. A worthy followup to the pilot.
  4. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8

    Quality of Life

    Plot:

    Johnny attempts to get back into teaching, but visions about a star athlete soon bring his newfound talents back to the spotlight.

    Character:

    On the supporting note, it is very interesting to see Dave Pelson back, giving Johnny a chance again, despite protests. A great moment when Johnny receives a flash of Pelson going to bat for him with the superintendent

    The pivotal character, played by an actor who is apparently on Malcolm in the Middle, a show that I do not watch, is an interesting one and the actor imbues him with warmth and charm, while also making him very human. His scene with Johnny where he asks if Johnny believes he will die is a masterpiece, both actors playing very naturally, but very emotionally with the issue of mortality and youth.

    Especially interesting here is how Johnny?s visions do not tell him everything he needs to know and the way he struggles with knowing what to do is quite compelling. The finale, in a packed arena amidst a hockey game, as Johnny wrestles with his burden is beautifully understated by Hall.

    I think the finest section is the closing one, as Johnny is escorted through a crowd of reporters, jostled and groped. The flashes he receives are brilliantly done and truly picture the mental breakdown the gift will eventually foster in Johnny. And the final punchline, of Johnny and Dana Bright locked in mortal passion, is beautiful. The look the two share is
    palpable and stunning.

    All Around Quality:

    This is a nice episode, much quieter and more intimate than the previous too. As such it is the perfect followup to the brutal and dark serial killer episode. All around solid acting populates the episode, though there are no standout moments, save for the conversation between Hall and the hockey player. A solid episode, workmanlike, not likely to make anyone?s favorite list, but above average.


  5. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Enigma

    Plot:

    Johnny finds himself transported to World War II when he attempts to find an old man?s lost fiancee.

    Character:

    It?s interesting to see Bruce pushing Johnny to accept a ?job? of sorts.

    I really like the opening here with Johnny out on a date and he is able to see into the future to the trainwreck the relationship with become. Again, on the one hand this seems a nice gift to have. On the other hand, hope for the future kind of takes a beating, doesn?t it?

    And Chris Bruno does a great job as the odd man out and when he finally takes all he can and snaps at Sarah, asking if she would like some time alone, it?s a beautiful moment and we sympathize with him in every way.

    And the characters of the three major players in the love triangle (flashback) are brilliantly acted. Hall does a wonderful job as the brutal Tommy Hodges and the other actors are brilliant as well. The moment when Tommy Hodges reappears at the end of the episode is striking and tragic.

    This is truly Hall?s episode and he makes both Johnny and Tommy resonate with his masterful performances. The way in which he plays a role in the flashbacks slowly makes sense when one realizes that this entire episode is only another way of looking at Johnny?s own situation in a love triangle. Johnny?s performance mirrors this nicely. And, as I stated, the final moment when he sits on the bench with Tommy Hodges, is a bittersweet close, the two ?other men,? alone together, alone for good.

    All Around Quality:

    There are false steps: the ?mind sex? sequence leaps to mind, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. A real sense of time and place, an interesting and emotionally resonant story, great performances and a pervading sense of melancholy and things lost. Beautiful episode.

  6. PadmeLeiaJaina Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2002
    star 6
    I'll hop in here. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this show. I actually think that the show is better than that the book or movie. Why? Stillson is way more complex as the villain, Johnny isn't as weird as he is in the book and film (and hotter :p ) and I also think that modern medicine makes the show that much more fascinating because even though the technology is cutting edge, Johnny's abilities are completely unexplainable.

    Bruce, Sarah, Walt, Reverend Purdy they all make for a great supporting ensemble cast. And the fantastic Sean Patrick-Flannery makes the greatest Stillson. You find yourself rooting for him one moment and then cringing at his frailty of character and continuous lack of moral center, which considering he supports the moral-right, is devilishly ironic.

    This last season was a little unbalanced - the first few episodes were only ok - but then it ended with a huge bang! The last 4 episodes were jaw droppers and sadly left us with way more questions than answers.

    This show is one of my favorite sci-fi programs. It's not huge on special fx, but it's very intellectual and Johnny is a wonderfully complex hero. I hope the show can go on for a couple more years and that when it does that they at least get to end it w/ the answer to Johnny's terrifying dreams of the apocolypse.
  7. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Netherworld

    Plot:

    Johnny must uncover the truth when he awakens to find himself in the a life with Sarah, no coma and no visions.

    This is an old trope and they throw it out quick, only the fifth episode. But it works and they keep the mystery going to the end. And it is, finally, very logical . . . the idea that Johnny would retreat into his own mind when faced with a particularly violent vision is a good one and the way that he must work to put the pieces together while still in the dream world is a nice touch.

    Character:

    This is where the episode really shines. The first few minutes of this episode give them the chance to play comedy and they are all very good at it, particularly the boy who plays Johnny?s son. Hall and Bruno have a nice chemistry as well.

    It is interesting to see Johnny react to the life he believes is the perfect one: his meeting with his mother is brilliantly done. And the birthday party, particularly Johnny?s conversation with Purdy and Walt, is lots of fun as well.

    And with all the fire metaphors, it?s not hard to get the point: it might seem perfect, but a world in which Johnny Smith does not have the gift he gained through the coma, is hell.

    It?s a wonderful life? No, not really, but a necessary one. And the sudden realization as Johnny screams, ?We?ve got to get out of here,? is beautiful. This world, for all the happiness it might give Johnny, is not good. Of course, this issue will crop up again throughout the series as it progresses, but it?s interesting to see it dealt with here.

    And the final scenes in the vision are beyond powerful as Johnny tells his dream family that he must leave them and not come back. This is powerful and emotional stuff and Hall hits every note just perfect.

    All Around Quality:

    A predictable plot gets trotted out and the actors acquit themselves well and the script gives room for nuance and personalization. This is part of a great talent: the ability to tell a very, very old story in an entertaining and personal way. And The Dead Zone has now passed this test with flying colors.
  8. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The House

    Plot:

    Johnny is visited by disturbing visions that call into question everything he believes about his mother?s death.

    Character:

    In this episode, Johnny finally grieves the loss of his mother and the terrible things that he uncovers about her death are truly stunning.

    Of equal interest is Johnny?s newfound status as a neighborhood freak, seen in the way he is spied on by the children and shunned by his adult neighbors. The relationship he forms with one of the children is very touching and emotional.

    And this is one of the first episodes to truly humanize Purdy in a sympathetic light. As Johnny suspects the man of murder, we slowly come to understand the essential pain at his core. And his final scene with Johnny, as he tells Johnny of his mother?s suicide, and then relives it before our eyes is stunning work by the great Stiers. Particularly beautiful (and important) is the beautiful delivery of the line that she lost her son ?and her faith in God.?
    Stiers? work here is worthy of an Emmy, at least.

    And Johnny?s journey is beautifully done as well as he slowly comes to realize that it was his own crippling ailment that led to his mother?s death. And in the final moments, as Johnny realizes why the visions have come to him at this time, Hall truly pushes things to a new level of genius.

    His scene with the mother across the street, who has newly lost her son, is absolutely heartwrenching. I have yet to mention specifically Roy Hall?s work with music, but it is tremendous in this episode, especially in this scene, the plaintive theme that will recur working wonders. When Hall delivers the line, ?If your son could talk to you . . . he would say that you are loved . . . and needed in this house . . .? I wept.

    I lost my father some years ago and the way that the script couches this discussion, namely that damage, trauma is literally done to the house itself (?If you were to harm yourself, this house would never recover?) is truly poetic and evocative in the extreme.

    All Around Quality:

    Call me crazy, but I just finished the box set of the first season and I think this may be the best of the season. There are at least two others in the running as well, but this is top notch. Drama becomes art. Gorgeous.

  9. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Unreasonable Doubt

    Plot:

    Ah, yes, the 12 Angry Men episode. As I said earlier, it is in how well a show can pull off the traditional and familiar stories that we see the real genius. And this is a great episode, consistently evoking 12 Angry Men (which, by the by, is one of the finest films ever made) and yet using Johnny?s talents in a realistic fashion. A great episode.

    Character:

    I liked this show from the outset because they were not afraid to do a show without any of the principles, except Johnny, and a brief scene with Bruce. This willingness to stretch the format of the show is a hallmark of great television and I liked this.

    The supporting characters are nicely sketched, if stereotypical. But then, in an hour television show that?s all we have time for. All of the jury members are memorable and interesting, particularly Leading Citizen with his tragic past that clouds his judgment.

    I also liked the dilemma of the lady who had been previously raped and the way in which Johnny relates to her. The scene where he very quietly talks about victimization is truly beautiful and Hall?s delivery is pitch perfect. ?There is no way for any man to really understand . . .?

    Johnny?s visions are very well done, as well. I particularly like the bit where he is both the killer and the victim. And even more than that, I loved his first vision with the gun, where he aims and fires the gun, dry firing it while pointing it at the lady across from him.

    There is one false step: a vision that puts Johnny in the head of the female victim. It is shot in a bizarre way, obviously because of network constraints, that robs it of its power and is very distancing. A sad mishandling of what could and should have been a groundbreaking and showstopping vision.

    And it was a courageous decision to make the individual on trial a less than savory character, although innocent of the particular crime. The moment when Johnny shares a look with him at the end of the episode and he is encouraged by the wheelchair bound jury member to go up and shake his hand, to see what he does with his second chance, is a brilliant one. And Johnny?s refusal to do so is a nice character moment for him. There are some things we don?t need to see.

    Overall:

    A very good episode, solid and workmanlike, with plenty of emotional resonance. A rip off it might be, but then aren?t they all in one way or another. Like Netherworld, the series puts its own unique spin on a tried and true formula and it works.
  10. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The Siege

    Plot:

    When a bank robbery goes awry, Johnny must use his powers proactively to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

    Character:

    If the previous episode was 12 Angry Men, this is Dog Day Afternoon.

    This episode finds Johnny using his talents in a new way, having to constantly deal with shifting outcomes and try to find a balance and a proper ending. The visions are brilliantly done. I particularly like the sniper shot which results in several deaths.

    The characters are brilliantly done. I particularly like seeing Deputy Roscoe, getting off some great comic lines and Bruno, dealing with his wife?s jeopardy, is all business and brooding eyes.

    The real gem here is the actor who plays Conrad who makes his bank robber sympathetic, but dangerous at the same time. He is a truly brilliant actor and he has several scenes that are absolutely fantastic: his phone conversation with his ex-wife, the scene with Johnny that revolves around being a ?religious man,? and the closing conversation (?Is someone waiting for me??). He truly elevates the episode all by himself.

    And the score again deserves major props. The brilliant music in the ?I am today, Conrad,? scene is gorgeous and all through the episode the music helps the story achieve the tragic elements that it has.

    All Around Quality:

    An above average episode, anchored by a strong guest performance, a tried and true plot and a real emotional connection between Johnny and the ?villain.?
  11. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Enemy Mind:

    Plot:

    Johnny must battle a hallucinatory drug as he tries to track down a runaway.

    Character:

    This is a great premise as we see Johnny dealing with a dangerous drug in his system that causes his visions to bleed into paranoia. The quiet moments are the best ones: a vision of Bruce that leads Johnny to believe he will betray him, a stunning moment when Johnny believes Sarah is tracing his call. This is fascinating stuff.

    The relationship formed between Johnny and the runaway is quite nice as well. I particularly like the scene where Johnny talks about the fantasy life she had as a child. ?Even then, you were already running away.? Wow.

    The symbolism is a bit much here: the woods are a bit much as is the cougar motif.

    This is a very interesting premise, however and it is well communicated, with the drugs constantly affecting Johnny?s abilities.

    I did like the villainous character, who was quite fun, overacting to beat the band. Especially the murder scene in the alley where he counts to twelve was quite fun.

    All Around Quality:

    An above average episode, a nice premise executed with only a couple of false steps.
  12. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Here There Be Monsters

    Plot:

    Johnny attempts to help out while visiting a small town currently torn apart by a murder investigation and finds that he is gradually becoming a suspect.

    Character:

    This was a very good episode all the way around.

    It was particularly interesting to see Purdy acting selfishly. This episode is obviously intended to balance the very sympathetic scenes he had in The House. The character?s genius is his ambiguity and they aren?t ready to lose that.

    But this show is all Hall?s and he blows it right out of the water. His performance in the interrogation room as he reenacts the murders (BAPHOMET!!) is stunning and his moment later as he visits the murder scene is equally stunning. He is beyond brilliant here.

    There are some really great visions here. I particularly like the interrogation scene visions: the ax transition, the knife transition and the moment when we pan from Bruce to Johnny to see Johnny in a different outfit, looking at Bruce with pure malevolance was brilliant.

    The character actors in the small roles are all very good as well, giving the townspeople a real reason and a rationale for doing what they do. Also worth mentioning is the actor who plays Johnny?s lawyer, a fine young actor who is quite funny and also very good in the closing scenes.

    Again, this is a standby of a sort, it seems: the town with a secret. But here, a nice spin is given: this isn?t a town with a secret, it?s a town trying to uncover one. And, as we discover, that can be almost as deadly.

    One note of cynicism regarding the character of Dana Bright. When this episode wrapped, I thought to myself, well, at least Dana has been nice now, so it?s okay for Johnny to sleep with her. Lo and behold, the very next episode, Dinner with Dana . . . ah, but let?s cross that bridge when we come to it.

    All Around:

    A very good episode, bolstered by an interesting plot, but more so by a truly fantastic performance by Hall, truly one of his first season best.
  13. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Yeeha! The first disc of Season Two arrived yesterday from Netflix! I'm really looking forward to it!

    Dinner with Dana:

    Plot:

    Johnny and Dana have sex. That?s really about it.

    Character:

    At this point, I have to admit, I felt things go off the rails. The characters are fairly ill served here.

    The character of Dana Bright is not particularly well served here. Her ?childhood trauma? is, refreshingly, not a straight sexual molestation, but one begins to wish it was, rather than the rather wishy washy ?locked in the bedroom.? What fragility . . .

    The central idea here, that when you go to bed with someone, you go to bed with every person you have slept with and your partner has slept with is a good one. And it?s even well executed, in the scene where Johnny and Dana dance and the room slowly fills with other Dana?s and other partners.

    But the twist, which is that Johnny and Dana press ahead to sleep together, rings very false to me. Correct me if I?m wrong, but at this point, I think sex is hardly going to be an issue for Johnny and given his gift, I think it?s not something that would legitimately happen. Plus, the man?s at least reasonably intelligent and you?d think he wouldn?t want to catch any diseases.

    And, really, by the time the episode wrapped, I was pulling for Dana to actually be killed by her ex. Think about it: the character is pointless by now. Johnny?s slept with her, defusing any sexual tension. She?s done, to be blunt, what she was written in to do. And for Johnny?s first sexual partner to be so quickly killed and Johnny be unable to save her . . . well, that would just wreck him more, which is what we need at this point.

    And the white lights then that block out Dana?s future would be the car headlights, yes, but also the fact that she has no future to see. See how BEAUTIFUL it all would have been?!

    All Around Quality:

    As you can probably tell, I didn?t care for this one. The character of Dana is ill used here and Johnny is out of character. And not much of import happens really. A dead period.
  14. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Shaman

    Plot:

    Johnny must join forces with a Native Shaman from prehistoric past to avert a catastrophe.

    Character:

    This episode finds Johnny trying to trek through the wilderness and getting hurt. His relationship with the title character, beautifully played by Adam Beach, is absolutely incredible. The way they slowly explore each other by playing around with the knife is entertaining. And the way they slowly learn to communicate, even with a language barrier, is methodical and daring for the show to undertake.

    The way the characters are then able to trade visions is interesting as well, even though they can?t interact physically. The idea that the Shaman?s life has been leading up to this moment in the cave, that the asteroid is, to leap ahead in the story, to the Shaman as Stillson is to Johnny is stunning. The idea of Johnny appearing to the Shaman several time is literally mind blowing and when the Shaman repeated, ?There?s still time,? roughly sounding out the syllables with no comprehension, I realized that this was great television.

    And when the Shaman enters Johnny?s world, the results are equally stunning. This is visual story telling at its finest.

    And the death of the Shaman is well expressed with the sudden change to he and Johnny being able to communicate with words being a well expressed and poignant moment. His sacrifice is a beautiful and meaningful one.

    Only one thing could have made this better: if it had been revealed to us, the audience, what the repeated statement the Shaman made meant. As Johnny?s cryptic ?There?s still time,? has resonance after we discover what it means, we could also have discovered that the Shaman?s words meant, oh, just off the top of my head, ?Wake up now,? or something to that effect. Or even something relating to Stillson in a poetic way. Whatever. Anyway, one small weakness can?t derail this great episode, but it would have been a nice bit of artistic echoing.

    And the twist, that the asteroid hit in the past, not the present, is a very good one and the explanation for Johnny?s vision of vanishing people is logical enough. And the final shot of the episode, of the drum complete with little stick figure with cane was a wonderful moment.

    All Around:

    Dare I say it, this is the episode that?s giving The House a run for its money. In the same way that episode did, this one has truly transcended genre or any other consideration to simply become great art. Maybe the finest episode of the season.
  15. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Destiny:

    Johnny?s past and his connections with an up and coming politician named Greg Stillson are explored.

    Character:

    Well, here it is, the moment we?ve all been waiting for.

    Several interesting liberties are taken. Notable is the way in which Johnny and Stillson meet as children. The scene is an interesting one.

    Flannery is surprisingly good as Stillson, hardly anyone?s immediate thought for casting. But he works very well.

    Johnny?s visions are well executed and I particularly liked the visual of him holding his cane in front of the fire in an effort to figure out what they meant.

    And then of course, the sexual tryst between Johnny and Sara. It was lacking, frankly, even more so when compared to the book. But the way Sara throws up the next morning was a particularly nice touch and the way that Johnny then takes Purdy up on his offer.

    And while we?re talking about Purdy: that ?destiny? scene was brilliant. There were moments of high comedy (Or . . . you could live her) and moments of transcendent beauty. Amazing stuff and I liked the way it was replayed under the montage, which was, by the way, stunning.

    And the weaving of Stilson?s story in with Johnny?s back story was very well done. I particularly liked Stilson driving by Johnny?s demolished car.

    And of course, the final argument of this show is the same as the book: there is a reason. And Stilson is Johnny?s reason. Gives that whole, ?Something?s wrong? speech in the pilot new layers, doesn?t it?

    All Around:

    As what it is, this episode succeeds very well, adequately communicating the idea of Johnny?s ?purpose? in life and introducing Stillson very well.

    And as a season ender, it serves up a heaping good cliffhanger.

    My only concern, standing where I do know, waiting for season two from the library, is that they may have bitten off more than they can chew: can they adequately deal with everything that Johnny and Sara sleeping together will bring up? The guilt, the passion, the relationship between Walt and Sara, Walt and Johnny, the responsibility of a child (who, tellingly, witness his mother?s bout of nausea)? Can they do it? God only knows. It?s a lot of complex stuff to bring up in a television series. But I have hope.


    Final thoughts:

    On the whole, this series was a pleasant surprise. Loving the book as I did, I hoped that they would take advantage of their main draw here: time. Whereas a movie must condense, and the Dead Zone film certainly did, the series has time to take a leisurley pace and really hit their marks.

    By and large, they did that. Dana was a bit rushed, but the slow building of Johnny?s fame, the eventual introduction of Stillson, this was all well done.

    And the additions are very well done as well. I particularly love Purdy, as played by Stiers, and Walt, as played by Bannerman, both excellent actors.

    On the whole, I?m looking forward to the Second Season.
  16. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Okay, after months of struggling to get the second season DVD set through interlibrary loan, I finally just gave up and joined Netflix. And so, the first DVD of the second season was just this very day delivered to my mailbox.

    It'll take a while . . . five DVDs all together in the second season, but I'm really looking forward to this season.

    The first season left a great burden on the series. Johnny and Sarah sleeping together should change things greatly and so should Purdy's new relationship with Johnny. And let's not forget that little politician that was introduced . . . what was his name again? So, here's hoping they don't screw up the tremendous good will they built up over the first season.

    Without further ado, season two!

    Valley of the Shadow

    Johnny is called in by Purdy when a man's son is kidnapped, but the kidnapper seems more interested in Johnny than in the victim's family.

    Teaser

    This does a good job setting up the second season. Very quickly, we're introduced to Stillson, Purdy, Sara, Walt, Bruce and Johnny. Their relationships are sketched quickly, but it's fairly plain.

    Great insight into all concerned here. Flannery is only on board as Stillson for about five minutes of this episode, but he sells it. I particularly like the way he hits on Sara. "She's the Sheriff's wife?" "I said find out more about her." I can't wait to see if this goes anywhere.

    Chris Bruno continues to absolutely blow me away with his performance as Walt. His scenes with Johnny are brilliant here as he consistently encourages and goes to bat for Johnny. Particularly nice is the scene where he convinces the FBI agent to let Johnny touch the evidence.

    It should be mentioned that Nebuchadnezzer, the villain, really owns this episode. When he talks to Johnny about Johnny's son on the phone with Walt listening in on another line, all three actors really hit home runs. And the way in which the killer keeps testing Johnny, setting up test after test for Johnny to pass, is truly brilliant. I particularly liked how he painted a message and then painted over it, trusting that Johnny would see the message when he touched the paintbrush. The message: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, which tips Johnny just in time that the house he's standing in is about to go up in flames. Now this is maybe the best villain of the series so far. Scratch that. Definitely.

    And when he and Johnny finally meet face to face it's a stunning scene . . . when the children of Israel disobeyed, God sent Nebuchadnezzer to punish them. But he also sent the prophet to save them . . . the idea that Nebuchadnezzer might actually be sent from 'God' or 'fate' or whatever is driving Johnny's life is a heady one, but the actors sell it. So much so that when Nebuchadnezzer walks to his death, quoting the scriptures following Nebuchadnezzer's madness, I welled up with tears. And kudos to Roy Hall for his magnificent score for this sequence.

    And Johnny's struggle continues. I particularly liked the moment when Nebuchadnezzer said, "Everyone wants to be saved. Some people just want to be saved from themselves." The look of tacit agreement on Johnny's face is a masterwork and the concept strikes home. This is true, I think, for most people. Freedom from ourselves would be a great freedom indeed.

    Too Johnny's scene where he actually wishes for the visions to return is a powerful one. "I didn't ask for this. And if they're gone, I wouldn't miss them. But I need them tonight. One last time." The absolute tragedy of these lines can't be missed.

    Prudy, Bruce and Sara are on the sidelines, as well as a strangely laconic Dana, but Walt, Johnny and Nebuchadnezzer own this episode and all three actors are up to snuff. The way they constantly show us new sides of established characters is incredible. That they manage to stay true to the characters as they have been established while also allowing growth is amazing.

    A stunning episode, one that builds on the first season and points us in the right direction
  17. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Descent

    Johnny is called in when four teenagers go missing in a mine owned by his family.

    This was a solid episode as well, using the claustrophobic setting to great effect. The section with Johnny, Walt and Collier in the mine was truly suspenseful and Collier's death was well portrayed and shocking.

    The idea that the mine's history will come into play is a cool one as well, though I could have done without the bit where Hall plays his own grandfather, complete with cheesy Kennedy accent.

    But again, this is a great character driven episode. Purdy is on hand and being incredbly likeable and then we suddenly realize his ulterior motive. I love the ambiguity on this guy . . . Stiers owns everybody.

    The opening scene with Walt and Sara at the movies is a great scene with both actors playing very well. This show isn't going to make the mistake I was afraid it would, ie. pretend that the sex didn't happen. It DID happen and the repercussions are still becoming clear.

    Sara and Dana have a great scene as well and the bit where Johnny and Walt exit the mine a moment later gives Nicole De Boer, an actress I was rather underwhelmed with in the first season a chance to really shine. And her breakdown at the end of the episode is deeply felt and heartbreaking.

    Walt and Johnny exploring the mine together is a killer bit as well, complete with Walt's 'I changed the future moment,' but the real killer here is the scene the two share about which of them is better suited to Sara. This is incredible stuff and it all comes across and rings true for us, making us feel sympathy for both Johnny and Walt. Kudos to Hall and Bruno for this scene.

    And a cliffhanger again . . . jeez, we only had a cliffhanger TWO episodes ago!

    On the whole, a solid episode that manages to make Johnny's visions fresh, be incredibly suspenseful and also give us some great character exchanges. Great episode.
  18. PadmeLeiaJaina Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2002
    star 6
    I can't believe that no one else is posting in here :(

    I LOVE this series. The Johnny/Stillson episodes are by far some of the greatest in the series. Stillson's one of those characters that you truly love to hate. There's an episode in the last season where you're actually cheering for him while he's doing the most horrible thing imaginable, then you think perhaps he'll actually do something redemptive and yet he fails. Stillson is WEAK, yet he weilds great political power and has friends/allies to keep him going.

    Other than his own physical limitations and problems Johnny, on the otherhand is strong.

    I can't tell you all what an amazing series you're missing by not watching this show. Some of the stand-alone episodes are just blah - but the overall mythology episodes, especially if watched together and heart-pounding and amazingly fantastic television.

    The mining episodes were good, I love Sara being torn between the 2 men that she loves and Dana there to needle her and twist her own guilty knife in deeper.

  19. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Ascent

    Stunning episode, more than little reminiscent of one of my favorite X-Files, One Breath.

    Johnny forms a link with Walt who is in a coma, in an attempt to bring him back to the land of the living. James Handy is on hand as the Grim Reaper and a contest develops between the two.

    There are a lot of great acting moments here: Hall is very good as Walt in the scenes where he takes Bruno's place and Bruno is equally good in those same scenes. Particularly the 'Johnny woke up scene,' is a masterpiece.

    As well, Nicole De Boer has a great scene where she attempts to tell her son about Walt's condition.

    This, once again, is a great Hall/Bruno episode and when Handy is thrown into the mix, it becomes explosive. Partiularly stunning is the moment when you realize that Handy is the Reaper ("just keep driving . . . I'll guide you. Just drive to the light.") A jaw dropping moment. And when we realize that Walt and Johnny have more in common than we thought ("You thought you were the third wheel?") is a great bit. The moment when we realize that for all his bluster Walt wants to die to free Sarah is a truly devestating one.

    This is also an incredibly visually interesting episode. The jumping around and around from one location to another is very well done. I particularly like the dolly around Walt and Sarah's kiss that takes them from the movie theater to the wedding to their wedding night. That's great stuff. And the light is a particularly great bit and the image of Johnny simply turned and running as fast as he can away from death is a stunning and evocative one. Great image.

    And the show stopping climax with Johnny telling Walt about his one night stand with Sarah is fabulous and the moment of awakening where we hold hard on Walt's and Johnny's hands gripping each other is a chill bump moment.

    Creative, intriguing, chracter driven, great images. A masterpiece all the way around.
  20. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The Outsider

    This one begins very promisingly with Johnny watching tapes of Seinfeld and then getting a vision of a cosmetic medicine causing birth defects. And there are a few moments that are nice, but on the whole, I felt this episode suffered from some jarring shifts in tone and from a rather weak conclusion. Well, the genius had to end sometime.

    There's a cool scene where Johnny talks with Purdy and an even better deleted scene between the two in the limo ("I too feel a storm is coming and I must protect my house"). And the scene where Johnny takes Berke out to lunch with Claire was fun, particularly the 'kid who washes the glasses is gay' bit.

    But the rather deus ex machina bit of the two just suddenly finished the software and the company actually deciding on a recall was very weak. And the bit where Johnny loses his temper and smashes up a security van seemed very, very out of character, as did the bit where Sara accused Walt of hiring a private detective. Uh, the man's a cop, doof; he's got a whole department at his disposal.

    A disappointment.
  21. PadmeLeiaJaina Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2002
    star 6
    I'm upping this to remind everyone that Season 5 premiere is 2 Sundays from now! [face_dancing]
  22. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    I forgot about this thread . . . I recently got the second disc of the second season and I've watched the first three episodes on it, Preciptate, Scars and Misbegotten.

    Maybe I'll get reviews up for those sometime.

  23. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Precipitate:

    Very good episode, with the great gimmick of Johnny receiving a blood transfusion of sort (the precipitate of the title) and experiencing visions of the six donors (set up with a fantastic dolly shot of six Johnny?s giving blood). However, when he receives a vision that one of them will die, he has to not only find out who they all are, but also deduce which of them is in danger.

    Some of the early comedy was a bit jarring, though Hall once again proved a consummate actor, creating six very different characters. Lonely Guy and Fat Guy, in particular, were very well realized with gestures and mannerisms.

    And once the countdown to three o?clock begins with Johnny and Bruce running around the plaza where all six donors gave blood, well, the episode just takes off. Special mention goes to John Tench, a fabulous Mort, and the fantastic location, a plaza that is beautiful and interesting.

    Several great moments (Johnny bursting into frame behind Lonely Guy and Pregnant Woman was a laugh out loud moment as was his confrontation with Biker Dude). And the climax where Johnny follows the chain of events, but does not have to actually interfere was a classic as well.

    And so the title is not simply the plasma mixture he received, but also his own actions, the beginning (or precipitate) to the climactic chain of events: as Bruce says, it is not necessary that he interfere, but simply that he do [ i]some[/i]thing. And the final shot, a plug for the Red Cross, felt not at all out of place.

    *** out of **** stars
  24. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Scars

    This episode finds Johnny attempting to head of Stilson at the pass by simply making sure that his opponent, Harrison Fisher, is reelected. Johnny reasons that his career will end with this resounding defeat. Johnny apparently has never studied the career of Dick Nixon; lesson to be learned: when a sociopath sets his sights on the White House, he gets there. :p

    This was a fantastic episode, the third of the series to feature Stillson and it worked very, very well. Gerald McRaney was presence personified as Harrison Fisher and Sean Patrick Flannery was, as always, a fantastic Stillson.

    The episode has Johnny discovering the secret sin at the heart of Fisher's life, a massacre in Vietnam for which Fisher received a medal. Johnny has to then decide what to do with this.

    There are any number of great scenes; the episode opens and closes with Johnny and Stillson talking over coffee at a restaurant and both actors hit real homeruns here, particularly in Stillson's final scene, (To know you're right, to know you're right . . . powerful feeling). And the debate scene where McRaney reveals the shame at his heart and withdraws from the election is about the greatest monologue to date on this show. Lines like Guilt is the only weapon our morality has to use against us when we forget ourselves become lines of power and beauty. And Flannery's Stillson sells it as well in that scene with some absolutely gorgeous reaction shots that make us wonder to what degree Stillson can even understand guilt.

    The party scene, with the shocking Stillson - Johnny conversation about Sarah and the even more shocking throat cutting vision that follows, is a masterpiece.

    This is a brilliant episode and a worthy one to continue the Stillson arc.

    But what's up with that title? 'Guilt' would have been a better title, if you ask me.

    **** out of **** stars.
  25. NJOfan215 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 5
    I made a deadzone thread years ago and got very few replies as well. I really enjoyed the first and second seasons, but i wasn't as thrilled with the third one. I hope the fourth one will be good.
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