Saturday , June 22 2024
Season Two of U.S.A.'s big summer hit begins - in January!

The Dead Zone

When last we left Dead Zone denizen Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall), our hero was reeling from an apocalyptic psychic vision sparked by touching sociopathic politician Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery). Several weeks later, and Smith has been obsessively shadowing the charismatic Stillson, a candidate who seemingly can’t get through three sentences of speechifying without bringing “God” into the mix. This gets him the support of the slippery Reverend Purdy (David Ogden Stiers), who also has a hidden agenda involving our man John.
Second season of U.S.A.’s summer success, The Dead Zone, began last night, and though the ep opens by following the plot lines set at the end of last season, we soon found ourselves sidetracked. The Stillson plot (a major component in the Stephen King source novel) was suspended in favor of a cat-&-mouse game between hero psychic Smith and a kidnapper. Said kidnapper is a Bible-babbling busted dot.commer who has been driven around the bend by his failure. He snatches the son of the CEO who has bought out his company, threatening to kill him unless Johnny can use his psychic powers to find the boy. Only one hitch: ever since his Big Bang End-of-the-World vision, our hero’s psychic powers have been as reliable as a cheap cell phone. We keep hoping the guy from the Sprint commercials will appear to help Johnny w./ his piss-poor reception.
By mid-show, of course, the psychic visions have started coming in clearly again. We have a showdown in a busted bank (lots of refs to economic struggling in this ep) where our dot-com kidnapper has locked his victim in a still-usable vault. He’s kidnapped the boy, we learn, to bring Johnny into the picture, viewing our protagonist as a messenger of God. What said message is supposed to be remains opaque, though at some level it revolves around the fact that we’ve lost our way in our dogged pursuit of Martha Stewart-style comfort. Hey, the guy’s clearly nuts, so we’re not supposed to analyze his actions too closely.
Not a bad season opener, though I can’t help worrying how long they intend to leave the Stillson plot hanging. This isn’t Hamlet, after all, and that vision of an ash-strewn Washington D.C. isn’t something we can ignore forever. Then again, all the religio-themed dialog (at one point, our psycho baddie uses Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego as a warning) echoes the hypocritical sloganeering used by Stillson. So perhaps we haven’t ventured too far from King’s source plot, after all. . .

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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