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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dead Zone: The Final Season
Dead Zone: The Final Season
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // June 3, 2008
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted June 21, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Sixth & Final Season

The Dead Zone is a science-fiction television series that airs on the USA Network. The series is based upon a novel of the same name by horror novelist Stephen King, although it is primarily based on characters. The lead character is Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall). Smith was in a tragic car accident that left him in a coma for six years. After awakening, he found he had psychic abilities -- with a single touch of an individual or an item he can see into their future and past events associated with the individual -- and life was completely different -- his fiance Sarah had his son J.J. and married to the county sheriff Walt. Smith's life was in complete upheaval. As Smith gets used to his new life, he uses his psychic abilities to solve crimes, prevent bad things from happening, and try to bring good to the world. For more details about this show, refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one, season two, season four, and season five.

Season six marks the final moments of The Dead Zone. Personally, I had mixed feelings about the season. Overall, it was not a bad season. The episodes offered entertaining storylines with Johnny uncovering one mystery after another. However, it was still not as good as earlier seasons. In season five, the series moved the focus away from its riveting multi-season story arc to episodic plotlines. In doing so, the series lost a pretty intense plotline involving Johnny's psychic powers and stopping politician Stillson from causing a major catastrophe that would destroy the world. In season six, the series moves further away from the Stillson story arc. The good news is that the story arc is still visited on a limited basis. These moments provide some pretty intense episodes. The bad news is the focus on the relationship between Johnny and Sarah. This storyline just doesn't feel right.

Another big change to season six is the departure of several major characters (Gene Purdy, Walt Bannerman, Bruce Lewis, and Malcolm Janus). This change was not positive. I was very disappointed to see so many characters depart the show at the same time. In their stead (primarily Walt's spots), Cara Buono joins the cast as Sheriff Anna Turner. Turner is a reoccurring character and plays the new sheriff who is reluctant to accept Johnny's help. She also conducts an investigation into Walt's integrity as a cop, which causes a lot of drama for Sarah. At the same time, her background and storyline play develop into a key detail. While it has its interesting moments, Sheriff Turner is nowhere near as impressive as the four lost characters. In short, she did not cut it.

The season begins with "Heritage". This episode is pretty intense and one of the season's best. Johnny has visions about his friends in danger. His visions tie into Stillson, Janus, and a lot of death-defying situations. He must work against the clock to stop people close to him from death. While the episode is strong, it still has its disappointing moments. Primarily, the exciting plotline finishes with four characters departing the series. The good news is that this episode is revisited on a limited basis throughout the season, specifically with the series finale.

After the invigorating season six premiere, the series moves away from the Stillson-ending-the-world story arc and focuses on stories-of-the-week. Johnny's visions put him into numerous situations where individuals are facing death. Like always, he works against time to stop them from dying. And as mentioned, he also deals with an uncooperative sheriff and his pseudo family (Sarah and JJ). These two storylines do not work for the best. They are the aspects I felt did not give the season a strong entertainment factor like the multi-season Stillson story arc. The drama gets a little thick and sometimes feels almost out of place.

However, the individual episodes are still entertaining. One strong episode involves Stillson. In "Re-Entry", Stillson comes to Johnny in a desperate attempt to save the pilots on a space shuttle from dying. Stillson loses communication with a space shuttle. Aboard the shuttle are a team of American heroes who have little time to live. Stillson employs Johnny's special talents to find a way to communicate with them and consequently saves their lives. This episode proves to be good because it offers Stillson in a different light. In addition, the storyline and its mysteries offer a lot of intrigue.

As the season continues, the remaining episodes continue to offer story-of-the week oriented episodes. They have solid storylines and even revisit a couple familiar faces, such as Bruce in "Drift" and fellow psychic Alex Sincliar in "Exile". When the season comes to a close with "Ambush" and "Denounement", Walt and Purdy come back into a picture. A former investigation becomes vital as truths about Johnny's past are revealed. In short, season six has a much more episodic nature with storylines contained in a single episode. There are a lot of references to past developments, but the main content is focused on Johnny solving the mystery at hand. Individually, these episodes offer a solid level of entertainment. But at the same time, I felt cheated without more of the Stillson story arc. I always felt it was a great plotline. Nevertheless, the season six episodes are still enjoyable (just on a different level) and will be a fun watch for fans of the series. There is also another development that really gives the season an edge.

Episode Guide

1. Heritage: Johnny is struck by visions of friends in danger, but is unable to prevent a shocking tragedy that will change his life forever.
2. Ego: When Johnny meets the new sheriff of Cleaves Mills, he envisions her shooting a local psychiatrist and launches an investigation despite her objections.
3. Re-Entry: Jonny must try to set aside his personal distrust of Vice President Stillson in an effort to prevent a national disaster.
4. Big Top: Johnny's visions inadvertently lead him to reexamine a ten-year-old murder case and his current relationship with his teenaged son, JJ.
5. Interred: When Johnny has disturbing visions of a man buried alive, he must overcome his differences with Sherriff Turner in the hopes of saving the man's life.
6. Switch: After Johnny boards a train for some much-needed relaxation, he has a vision of a woman thrown to her death and soon falls for the intriguing beauty.
7. Numb: A serious case of appendicitis sends Johnny into another coma, and this time it's up to Sarah to save his life.
8. Outcome: Johnny has to race against the clock to prevent a massive explosion from ripping apart the regional bus station.
9. Transgressions: Faith and truth collide as Johnny is thrust into a murder investigation of a young missing woman.
10. Drift: During a visit with Bruce, Johnny is struck with a vision of a valuable filly being stolen on the eve of a big horse race.
11. Exile: In jail for a crime he didn't commit, Johnny risks everything to run from the law and try to prevent his psychic friend Alex Sinclair from being murdered.
12. Ambush: Johnny and Sheriff Turner's lives are on the line as they pursue two separate criminal investigations that lead them both back to Walt.
13. Denouement: In the thrilling series finale, Johnny's visions of Walt lead to a shocking discovery about Johnny's dad as secrets from the past are revealed.

The DVD

Video:
The video in this release is given in anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is quite good. It suffers from a slight grain, but detail remains to be sharp and clear. However, there are some occasional moments when the picture suffers compression artifacts. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.

Audio:
The audio in this release is given in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. Overall, the sound quality is very good, providing an audible and clean audio track. The majority of activity is in the forward channels, but there is decent use of the surround sound capability. Music and sound effects sound very rich and vibrant.

There is no support for subtitles, but the release has closed captioning.

Extras:

  • Audio Commentaries: are included for episodes "Heritage" with Lloyd Segan, Scott Sheperd, Connor Price, and John L. Adams, "Re-Entry" with Shawn Piller, Jim Dunn, and Sam Ernst, "Numb" with Shawn Piller and Dana Greenblatt, and "Denouement" with Lloyd Segan, Scott Shepard, Shawn Piller, and Connor Price.
  • A New Home for The Dead Zone (8:39): is a featurette about the relocation of the series production. From season five to season six, the series moved from Vancouver to Montreal. Lloyd Segan explains about production planning issues. They produced and filmed seasons four and five together. With two years between the production of seasons five and six, they had to find a new location for the show. Apparently, they destroyed all of their sets. The featurette continues with more discussion with cast and crew about the topic.
  • All Aboard: Filming The Dead Zone On a Train (5:38): is a featurette about filming and production. It stars crew and cast members talking about the episode "Switch". They talk about the idea for the storyline and various production aspects.

Final Thoughts:
The Dead Zone's season six marks the final episodes of Johnny using his psychic powers to stop bad things (usually death) from occurring to the people around him, from his closest friends to complete strangers. For six seasons, the series has provided an exciting science fiction television series with a fine mix of mystery, drama, and action. The good news about season six is that it has some pretty strong episodes, as far as Johnny solving one mystery after the next. The bad news is that the exciting Stillson story arc loses its focus and several key characters leave the show. But as far as the good and the bad go, the season still fairs well and ends with an exciting note that fans must not miss out on.

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