Three seasons into it, The Dead Zone
has cemented its stature as one of television's most ambitious and compelling series, combining action, psychological drama, and elements of sci-fi and the supernatural. Based on Stephen King's 1979 novel (later a feature film starring Christopher Walken), The Dead Zone
was adapted for TV by Michael and Shawn Piller, with actor Anthony Michael Hall
(previously best known for his roles in the mid-'80s hits The Breakfast Club
and Sixteen Candles
) as star, co-producer, and occasional director. Hall ably plays Johnny Smith, who has recovered from a six-year coma to discover that he now has some rather remarkable powers; merely by touching other people, or objects touched by others, Smith has visions that illuminate events that have happened, will happen, or that are taking place elsewhere. He has put this ability to use as a psychic, working with the police in the Maine town in which the stories take place.
Understanding all of this may take a while for the uninitiated; not only does Smith jump both forward and back in time, but he often sees himself in his visions, and sometimes we're watching the Johnny of the present with the one from the past onscreen at the same time. The Dead Zone has a lot on its hands in each episode, with a stand-alone storyline (a Rep. Gary Condit-Chandra Levy takeoff in "Finding Rachel," a Columbine-esque school shooting in "Cycle of Violence") balancing the ongoing matter of Smith's visions--how they came to be ("Collision" details the car accident that led to his coma and, eventually, his powers), how to interpret them, and whether they're a blessing or a curse. All of that is mixed together with his strange new personal life (his pregnant fiancé, played by Nicole De Boer, married the local sheriff while Johnny was out of commission). And then there's the overriding series theme, which is heavily featured in the first two episodes of this season but mentioned only occasionally thereafter: Armageddon is coming, Johnny alone lives through it, he might even cause it
and maybe he's the only one who can prevent it. It's a tough act to pull off week after week, but while the show occasionally seems about to collapse under its own weight, it mostly succeeds, albeit without a shred of humour and an ultra-serious, portentous vibe that gets a little tedious. At the very least, The Dead Zone makes for consistently intriguing viewing. --Sam Graham
Third series of the American sci-fi serial about a small town science teacher waking after a long coma to find he has psychic powers. Johnny Smith is a contented science teacher in a small town. He's engaged to be married, great at his job, popular and life couldn't be better. An horrific car crash, however, changes his life forever. Johnny is left in a coma that lasts 6 years. When he comes to, he finds that life has moved on and closed around the gap he left. His struggle to fit into life again is complicated by the fact that he's developed psychic powers that let him see into the lives of anyone with whom he comes into physical contact. Episodes comprise: 'Finding Rachel (1)', 'Finding Rachel (2)', 'Collision', 'Cold Hard Truth', 'Total Awareness', 'No Questions Asked', 'Looking Glass', 'Speak Now', 'Cycle of Violence', 'Instinct', 'Shadows' and 'Tipping Point (1)'.