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By James Whittington, Sunday 25th April 2010
Movies and TV shows based on the work of Stephen King rarely work, there are a few exceptions such as It and The Stand but on the whole few capture the true feeling of the source text. One of the very best though is The Dead Zone which is based on the King novel from 1979. David Cronenebrg directed a movie in 1983 which was also based on the book, but it is the TV series that ran for six seasons from 2002 to 2007 which truly brought the spirit and characters of the book very much to life.
The series centres on a teacher named Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) who is involved in near-fatal car crash and spends 6 years in a coma. He awakens to discover life has changed. Not only have his friends and family either moved on or passed on, he now has psychic abilities so strong they allow him to see into the lives of everyone he comes into contact with. This allows him (at times) to save lives whilst at the same time complicating his.
Smart, disturbing and highly inventive Stephen King’s The Dead Zone is a series that challenges the viewer much in the same way that Millennium did, making them consider life’s deeper meanings whilst also dissecting the darker side of the human psyche. Each episode is an excursion into realistic urban nightmares populated with believable characters even though the premise to the whole series is fantastical. Darkness plays a large part of each episode’s construction but the show does contain sprinklings of humour that help lift it into the daylight.
Anthony Michael Hall is astounding throughout playing a man given a gift that is unexplainable and otherworldly. It may be a curse to him but a blessing to those he can help. When Smith experiences his flashbacks Hall displays an amazing range of acting skills, mimicking others with razor sharp precision. He is supported by a dream cast that includes Nicole de Boer as his love interest Sarah and Chris Bruno as hunky Sheriff Bannerman.
Special effects play a major part in this series, helping to illustrate how Smith can put himself into the lives of others. But this isn’t done in a sensationalist way nor do they distract you from the story. The effects are considered and smart that fit right into the engaging and adrenaline pumping stories.
Stephen King’s The Dead Zone is showing on Horror Channel every weekend evening at 20:00 so why not start you weekend with some very high quality, intelligent paranormal drama.
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