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The Dead Zone: The Complete First Season
Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Television/Thriller
Video: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Language: English
Subtitle: English, Spanish
Length: 550 min
Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: 06/17/2003
Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Commentary: Episode commentaries
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: "Genesis" featurette, "Writing" featurette, "Sound and Effects" featurette, "Guest Stars" featurette
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: None
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: Storyboards, season two preview, promo montage
Cast and Crew: Anthony Michael Hall, David Ogden Stiers, Nicole de Boer
Written By: Assorted
Produced By: Assorted
Directed By: Assorted
Music: Assorted
The Review:

Although the concept of the series does revolve around a Stephen King novel, the relatively new series "The Dead Zone" does more justice to King's original vision and storytelling elements than most of the theatrical fodder that has borrowed and adapted from the king of written horror's many works. The premiere episode pretty much sticks to introducing the primary basis for the adventures to come, establishing the character of Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall), who in the aftermath of a severe accident is comatose for more than six years. Once awake, his entire life is changed: his mother is dead, and his legal guardian the Rev. Eugene Purdy (David Ogden Stiers). His then-girlfriend Sara (Nicole de Boer), with whom he conceived a child the night of the accident, has since married the town sheriff; and to top it all off, Johnny soon discovers that he has the ability to look into someone's future by touching them. ***

From here, the rest of the first season's episodes pretty much make use of Johnny's gift, making it the focus of several different happenings like his efforts to prevent a young child with a bad heart from playing a hockey game in "Quality of Life." The more intriguing elements of this season are the developments in the wobbly relationship between Johnny and Rev. Purdy, whom Johnny later comes to believe is responsible for the death of his mother. Sadly, this subplot eventually takes a backseat to the futuristic gimmick, but for the most part the show holds its own with some well-written storylines, some better-than-average special effects, and solid acting on the part of its cast. Some may consider it King Lite, but "The Dead Zone" does manage to strike a nerve, and has a good future in store.

Image and Sound:

Although the show itself is presented in fullframe when on television, the transfers here are 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen! And they look super! Details come alive with the excellent mastering of clarity: edges are sharp with almost no enhancement halos, and small objects are crystal clear. Color saturation is striking and well-rendered, with vivid hues and accurate fleshtones. Contrast levels are terrific, with solid blacks and great shadow detail throughout. Very nice! ***

The sound has also been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, and for the most part, it's an overall engaging audio experience. It certainly sounds clean and cool enough, with natural dialogue and some noticeable engagement of the surrounds and the low end .1 LFE. But for a new show such as this, and considering all the available opportunities, this set of tracks isn't quite as aggressive as it could have been. They perform admirably, but overall they could use a little boost.

The Extras: Aside from the episode commentaries, there's a handful of special features here that are miniscule and not very deep, but still worth a glance at least for the show's ardent fans. First up are four featurettes: "Genesis," "Writing," "Sound and Effects," and "Guest Stars"- the names pretty much say it all. A few clips from the show, some interviews, and there you have it. There are also some storyboards corresponding with the episodes, a promo for the second season, and a promo montage.
Commentary: For each of the episodes we have an audio commentary with various collaborators on the show specific to that episode. For the most part, this is a mixed bag of good and acceptably mediocre, with some of the tracks giving us a wealth of information, and others that tend to drag with long periods of silence and useless banter.
Final Words: Even as it deviates from the source material with its own inventiveness, "The Dead Zone" manages to sustain a worthy sense of tension. The DVD is worth owning if you enjoyed the series on television, and the supplements, although not the best, are still pretty decent.


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