The Dead Zone: Independence Day

Bruce: "You think it's hard being a psychic? Try being a psychic's best friend."

Now this is the Dead Zone I love.

All of the deaths didn't make sense, because how could there be multiple car accidents when none of the cars were moving? And how could it end with Bruce dying from a gunshot wound? The only thing I figured out fairly early was that the escaped con was masquerading as a cop, because he just wasn't acting cop-like. Johnny deliberately wrecking the cop car was unexpected and took guts, considering that he lost six years of his life because of a car crash.

I really enjoyed all of the people finding ways to amuse themselves as they sat in the traffic jam, and the sense of community they felt when pregnant Nikki was in danger. I particularly loved the bikers taking water bottles out of people's hands. All of them descending on the ice cream truck together just made me smile.

Okay, I did have a couple of minor issues. Like establishing in the opener that Bruce didn't want Johnny to touch him, and them sticking to it even when Bruce's life was in danger. That just didn't scan, considering how long Bruce has known Johnny and what they've been through together. And the ending with the hospital and the twins rated a bit high on the hokey-meter.

But this one still reminded me pleasantly of certain episodes in my favorite season (which was two). An unusual situation, puzzling visions of death, one clue after another, and Johnny putting it all together. Classic Dead Zone.

Bits and pieces:

— This episode was directed by cast member Chris Bruno. He did a terrific job; it had to be a bear to film. Dylan Bruno played (I assume) the cop. Is he a relative?

— Johnny and Bruce had the eternal Dead Zone conversation about fate, i.e., what if Johnny preventing bad things will eventually cause even worse things.

— Brian and Nikki made me recall Mitch and Flo, the wonderful couple in the RV back in the season two episode "The Storm." And Mitch also said that Flo had a touch of "the sight," just like Nikki. Did the writers repeat themselves? Was it intentional?

— Why didn't the bikers just take off in between the lanes of traffic? This episode wouldn't have been as much fun without them, but still.

— In the opening sequence, Johnny was eating a salad, but his favorite food is cheeseburgers. And the waitress came on to him, but he didn't notice. A little out of character.

— The couple in the camper had a bumper sticker that said, "Kali is my co-pilot." :)

— Still no sign of Sarah and Walt.

Quotes:

Biker: "How do you know if you're a real hillbilly? When your home has more miles on it than your car."

Denise (in the bikini): "There's no signal. It's like we're in some kind of dead zone." Har har.

Very good. Three out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dylan Bruno was the cop/con and he is Chris's brother. He played FBI agent Colby Granger on 'Numb3ers', which is why I was totally shocked by the twist. Chris guest starred one or two episodes on Numb3ers too. (In my mind the two shows take place in the same universe. Whenever Colby missed an episode, I pretended he was fly fishing with his brother in Maine. Maybe that's where Walt and Sarah are, staying with Colby in L.A.)

I thought Chris did a great job directing here. It was a great episode. Good camera work, lots of atmosphere. I'll have to imdb to see if he's directed anything else. He seems to have a knack.

I had a few issues too, like why they shut the road down entirely instead of searching vehicles at a checkpoint and then moving them through and why the traffic started moving again if he hadn't been caught, but maybe that wasn't the real reason for the jam. I lived on the I95 corridor for 15 years. One time 2 tankers collided and exploded and melted the highway. That'll stop traffic!

But those minor issues with the set up were way more than made up for by the episode. It kept me puzzling right up to the end, totally got me with that twist, and I loved all the extras. Bikers, teenagers, hippies, drunk yokels, and the way they all came together. I mean free ice-cream and Bruce, what more could you want? _kes

Billie Doux said...

kes, great comment. (I watched a lot of Numb3rs, too, btw.)

Anonymous said...

a johnny and bruce episode. this one is very cute when they're riding in his car on the way to a 4th of july fireworks show. the very pregnant woman was about to go into labor soon if johnny didn't help her right away things could've gotten worse with her. i also noticed sarah was not in this episode. on the freeway in the hot sun with bikers kids and others and there is a cop who wanted johnny dead if bruce didn't do something soon. johnny and bruce get stuck in the middle of a traffic jam as i can see they weren't going anywhere. the dark haired waitress was flirting with johnny and he didn't even look at her.