Monday , October 26 2020
USA's Stephen King series returns for new episodes.

The Dead Zone

When we come upon Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) in the newest ep of The Dead Zone (we’re still in Season Two, USA’s website sez, though it sure feels like Season Three to me), he’s holed up in his house – teaching summer science to high schoolers and keeping from contact with the outside world. Frustrated by his inability to save an old Breakfast Club crony in an earlier ep, Johnny curses the life his psychic ability has given him.
If you don’t know that our hero will do an about-face by the end of the hour, then you haven’t been watching enough series television.
Still, the route that scriptwriter Michael Piller and story crafters Laura J. Burns & Mekinda Metz take to get him there is entertainingly rocky. Coerced by his physical therapist/compadre Bruce (John L. Adams) to attend an intervention at the woodsy retreat overseen by Reverend Purdy’s (David Ogden Stiers) Alliance Foundation, our duo find themselves seemingly pursued across Maine country roads by an F-3 tornado. Last time the area saw a storm this bad, we’re told, was on June 6,1995 – the night that Johnny had his fateful auto accident.
Oh yeah, this is one mean storm: it rains fish on the flummoxed reverend, lifts Bruce’s PT Cruiser up off the country highway and drops the vehicle on its head, then finally does a major assault on the Alliance retreat just as Johnny and Bruce arrive to join their friends. Inbetween, our psychic hero has visions both frightening and provocative: at one point, a falling raindrop prompts him into a prolonged soaring mindtrip that takes him up into the sky and then back down into the navel of bikinied reporter gal Dana Bright; at another moment, he sees a facially scarred figure gesturing to him from the edge of the woods. We get what the former image is about (it’s about actress Kristen Dalton’s flat belly); the latter remains unexplained by episode’s end.
After Bruce’s snazzy Cruiser gets demolished by the storm, the two are picked up by a genial nuclear family, the McMurtrys. As played by Robert Picardo and Jane Lynch, this family of happy tourists seem indefinably off, but I won’t hazard a guess at this point what, if anything, that means for the show’s greater storyline. Be nice to see Picardo working regularly again, though, so let’s hope it means something Really Creepy.

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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