THE DEAD ZONE: THE FINAL SEASON
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
Anthony Michael Hall
Nicole de Boer
Sean Patrick Flanery
What's it about
After a two year hiatus, we return to the twisted and bittersweet world of Johnny Smith and his psychic visions. In the final season of the hit television series based on the Stephen King novel, Smith comes to terms with an averted apocalypse, his own son's growing talents, his love for his long lost ex and best friend, and even the secret of his own family's history. There are always visions, people to save and no shortage of thrills along the way as well.
Is it good movie?
Is it just me, or are seasons of TV shows on DVD the greatest idea ever. Take The Dead Zone for example. Here's a show that I watched during the first two seasons, since it was a different riff on the King novel than the one offered by the David Cronenberg film adaptation from 1983. Sadly, I missed most of the next three seasons, and didn't even notice this sixth and final season when it aired. Now I get the chance to see all of it when I want. Nice. The show seems to consistantly be of high quality, with excellent acting, some tight writing and cool production values. And the story, expounded upon from the novel's premise, sure takes some nifty twists and turns along the way. The only thing that bugged me about the show (aside from the occasional cutesy moments that were like a hyperactive kid banging on an out of tune piano) was actually the continued premise itself. Anyone with Smith's talent in reality would have either been holed up in remote cabin within a year, have gone completely batshit crazy, or just a reasonable handdrawn facsimile of both. Seriously, you'd think this guy would just learn the lesson and stop f*cking touching people and their shit.
That small problem aside, this final season was an excellent watch, and really drew the audience in through each episode. How Smith (played by Anthony Michael Hall, no longer the teen "Brat Pack" nerd but all grown up spooky and shit) was going to handle the aversion of the apocalypse at the hands of his occasional nemisis and politician Stilson (Sean Patrick Flanery) was beyond me, and I was intrigued to find out where the season would go from there. This shift in story, coupled with the death of a major character, really turned the show on the ear for the last season. While not as powerful or engaging as previous seasons, this one did have its charms, and its fair share of stand out episodes. However, things felt a little rushed. The eventual rift between Johnny and Sarah (gorgeous Canadian and Star Trek alumnus Nicole de Boer), at a time when fans were rooting for them to finally come together, was a little on the lame side. And the ending was a slap in the face for many fans, and its true that there were a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the show. Things weren't given their proper closure, and it's sad that the show was yanked before they had a chance to explore the darker possibilities of the sixth season developments and tie up all of the competing storylines. I mean, give me a break, they didn't even wrap up the Stilson storyline in the final episode! Add to this the fact that some of the episode ideas were clear flops, and well, it looks like the ball was dropped numerous times on this one.
But really, on the whole, while a little unsatisfying resolution wise, it certainly was entertaining. It just would have been better if there had been more. I love the characters, the twisting, ongoing story lines and the gorgeous locations. It was a good season of an overall excellent show, but it would have been a great season if it was no the last we would see of the characters. It's not exactly a prime adaptation of King's more cerebral horror, but it's definately worth the time to watch and enjoy. The performances are above par (as seems to be the norm with Canadian productions lately), the effects are awesome (I love the time-freeze effect of the visions, and the overused but never old eye zoom) and the whole package is impressive. If you're a fan, it's a must own set. If you're not a fan yet, definately check it out.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.66:1. While the show does have moments of bland TV cinematography, on the whole this is one damn fine looking series. It has been since the first season.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital) with English coled captioning. This is a show that relies as heavily on sound design and music as it does on kick ass visuals, and the sound here is gigital clear and booming.
Not too many features (since 13 episodes of a show is quite he marathon itself), but not very much either. There are Audio Commentaries on four episodes ("Heritage", "Numb", "Switch" and "Denouement") which are interesting in a clinical, television breakdown sort of way, but mostly they are formulaic and repetitive. Following these are two short featurettes. The first, A New Home For The Dead Zone, details the cost effective move from Vancouver to Montreal, and it was cool to see them recreate the Smith house set using only still images from the first five seasons worth of DVD's. The second featurette, All Aboard, presents the challenges involved with shooting on a train for one of my favourite episodes, the funny and poignant "Switch". Like I said, there's not much here, but if you're like me and you came for the show itself, you won't mind too much.
There aren't very many shows that I will sit down and watch an entire season in one sitting (certain cancelled HBO series' being the exceptions), but these 13 episodes floated into my head in an easy way. It's too bad that the way they ended thngs left me wanting more. But Smith's adventures and explorations had me hooked, and that's more than I can say for 90% of the shows still on the air. The switch from Vancouver to Montreal for the production was a smooth move, and they really capitalized on the gorgeous locations and singular charm of the city. The DVD seasons of this show are something that every fan should have, and they are an easy watch. Now, all they have to do is bring back the show and I'll be happy. I need a better ending than that!