The Dead Zone (TV Pilot) (2002)

Director: John Lafia, Gloria Muzio
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
Not for sale to persons under age 18.
Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Video Formats: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Running Time:
83 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Extras: Commentary by Michael Piller, Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole de Boer, Chris Bruno, and Robert Lieberman; Season 2 Preview; Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; Alternate Ending with Introduction by Shawn Piller; Trailer; Promos and TV Spots


To be honest I wasn't expecting too much from this remade for television version of Stephen King's novel of the same name, and was in the end pleasantly surprised.

This TV pilot episode of 80 minutes or so, which serves as an introduction to the TV series on USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel, is quite watchable. It even makes one want one to check out future episodes since it leaves enough plot threads - that would no doubt be addressed in the rest of the series ? dangling. (The Dead Zone is apparently in its second season right now.)

The plot involves a teacher who regains consciousness after being in a coma for six years following a car accident. John Smith ("what's your name really?" a cop taking a statement from him inquires at one point) finds that he suddenly has new psychic powers that allows him to see into the life of anyone he touches. Smith can see into the past and even predict the future.

You might recall that this particular Stephen King novel was made into a movie starring the one and only Christopher Walken back in 1983. It was a creepily effective and atmospheric thriller, and in a stunning piece of precognitive future prediction actually featured Martin Sheen as the President of the United States ? decades before his West Wing role!

This new version stars Anthony Michael Hall. You might probably remember him as one of the kids in The Breakfast Club (I think he was the geeky sensitive one, but could be mistaken). Walken is a tough act to follow, but Hall does OK. I was quite surprised that he worked out better than I thought he would. The supporting cast is also all right ? Nicole de Boer (of Cube fame) is always worth watching.

To be honest I don't watch a lot of television and haven't seen any episodes of The Dead Zone so I didn't know quite what to expect of it. As a made-for-TV movie, Dead Zone is quite watchable once one has decided not to unfairly compare it to the original movie. Some clichéd situations aside, the acting is decent, the special effects (including some Matrix-like shots) and other production values adequate. Some of the dialogue is quite fresh and funny.

Sure, it can't be compared to the original Dead Zone movie and if you haven't seen neither of them, then it is obvious which one I'd rather recommend. But this particular entry won't be a waste of your time either.

THE DISC: Since it is represented in a wide screen and not a full screen (traditional TV) format, Dead Zone doesn't feel like a TV episode, but rather like a big screen movie. The colours are a bit drab, but in synch with the story's atmosphere. The sound is crisp and clear and features some nice stereo at times.

It may seem as if the movie has a lot of extra features, but most of the stuff included is just promotional fluff.

There are also two trailers for other made-for-TV Stephen King movies, namely Rose Red and Storm of the Century. (You access these by clicking on the Lion's Gate logo on the menu ? an ?Easter egg? or hidden feature common to all Lion's Gate DVDs I've viewed thus far.)

I haven't checked the audio commentary yet, but apparently it only picks up after a while so stick with it.

WORTH IT? If you (like me) haven't seen any of the Dead Zone series yet and are curious, then this is obviously the place to start.

RECOMMENDATION: I wasn't expecting much, but found that Dead Zone wasn't too bad as far as TV productions go and would probably try to check out the rest of the series (the complete season one of which has recently been released on DVD). Who knows? I might just be converted into a regular viewer here . . .



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