The Dead Zone: What It Seems

Bruce: "Damn, your new brain must come with caller ID."

At the end of the pilot episode, Johnny was convinced that someone was going to kill nurse Allison... but she didn't die, after all. At first, we wonder if maybe Johnny's gift is fallible; later, we learn that a stranger died in Allison's place – a woman who wouldn't have died if it weren't for Johnny's vision.

This episode is a one-hour version of the larger serial killer plot in the book and movie, and strongly keyed to developing a relationship of sorts between Johnny and Sheriff Walt Bannerman, who is also Sarah's husband. The emphasis is on the fact that Johnny has a vision, he does something, and everything changes. He has power – and it isn't benign in the least.

Johnny proved that he was worthy of such power by committing two selfless acts in this episode: (1) after his vision that he and Sarah were going to have wild and crazy sex on the kitchen counter, he made her leave before it could happen; and (2) he took action to save Walt's life, when a part of him must have been horribly tempted to let Walt, a virtual stranger and a huge impediment to him, die so that he could have Sarah and their son back.

Sarah was obviously hoping that her two men could be friends, which was naive as well as in character. Johnny and Walt are completely different types, physically, mentally, emotionally – plus each has something the other desperately wants. My favorite moment in this episode was Johnny, Sarah, and Walt attempting to eat lunch together. "My son plays hockey. Our son. (pause) All our son."

Walt was very likable here. Understandably leery of Johnny and threatened by his very presence, Walt was too professional to let it affect his job. Walt is the strong, silent type. Still waters run deep.

This time, instead of observing others, Johnny was a participant in the visions. He was actually in the killer's body, which allowed Anthony Michael Hall to play other parts, and it heightened the suspense, since Johnny couldn't see the killer's face. To make it even more interesting, Johnny's sex vision with Sarah didn't seem to be a vision at first, which took me off guard. Excellent writing choices, guys.

This episode introduced Dana Bright, the Lois Lane of The Dead Zone, who works for the Bangor Daily News. She's a strikingly beautiful woman as well as oddly abrasive in a believable way, and she and Walt showed some interesting antagonism toward each other. "The usual 'no comment,' Sheriff?" "Get a life, Dana."

Bits and pieces:

— Episode two started with a "previously on," and then for the first time, the very cool and spooky credits. The haunting theme music consisted of two phrases repeated three times: "Feel no shame for what you are," and "Fall in love." (Close captioning is the reviewer's friend.)

— Johnny's vision when he saw Walt's death even went to the extent of Johnny's wedding with Sarah and their second child.

— Johnny and Sarah's son was called "little Johnny." Speaking of which, why don't Walt and Sarah have children of their own? Was Sarah unwilling to commit to that extent while Johnny was still alive?

— Lots of good Bruce moments here; he's wonderful comic relief, and John L. Adams gave excellent support to Anthony Michael Hall.

— Johnny and Purdy were a lot less combative than before the coma. Johnny told Purdy that he didn't believe in anything he couldn't see under a microscope, while Purdy expressed an opinion about Johnny's "resurrection" having something to do with a higher power.

— A lot of the serial killer plot was out of the original King book, right down to the dialogue.

— Johnny mentioned their taste of the day thing (ice-blended cappuccino) with Sarah in the kitchen scene, right before his hot monkey sex vision of the two of them on the kitchen counter.

— Ten miles? Johnny limped with a hospital cane for ten miles? Can you say, improbable?

— Johnny twice picked up a phone and knew who was calling. But isn't direct touch necessary for Johnny's gift to work? Was he feeling someone through the telephone wire?

— The length of Anthony Michael Hall's hair changed throughout this episode, sometimes in the same scene. According to the first season DVD, this happened because the first two episodes were filmed twice, a year apart, with different actors playing Reverend Purdy and Dana Bright.

Quotes:

Walt: "When the last three girls were killed, you were in a coma. Which, as far as alibis go, that's a pretty good one."

Dana: "The self-effacing, shy hero. An American classic. In no time at all, you'll be endorsing breakfast cereal."

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:

ChrisB said...

After such a strong pilot, I was expecting to be disappointed in this episode. I loved it.

I am very interested in the character of Dana. She seems to be the fourth in the love triangle (love square?). There appear to be massive sparks between Walt and her, yet I feel she is going to do what she can to make Johnny larger than life. Intriguing.

But, my favorite moment was one you mentioned -- Johnny coming in to help Walt after his vision of his future with Sarah. Now, that's a sure fire way to get this audience member rooting for the hero.

Anonymous said...

i liked this episode alot. johnny was having a vision about the killer and everyone thinks that johnny was wrong. the old lady tried to kill him. the johnny and sarah love making on the counter in his vision was nice.

Anonymous said...

bruce and johnny were breaking and entering into allison's house to see any clues that might lead them to the killer while i did not expect frank dodd to be the serial killer right before johnny caught him and walt killed. all johnny wanted to do was try and get along with sarah and walt while still having feelings for sarah behind walt's back. johnny meets a attractive reporter named dana bright that walt doesn't like that much. johnny took action to save walt's life when he could've had sarah and jj back all for himself.