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THE DEAD ZONE is one of my favorite Stephen King novels, which just happened to be made into one of the best movie adaptations of the prolific authorís books. However, Kingís novel had a decided ending that didnít leave much opportunity to continue the story. Therefore, I was more than a little curious to see how the characters and saturations of Kingís novel would be adapted to the format of a weekly television series. As it turns out, THE DEAD ZONE has not only been beautifully adapted to television, it is one of the most engrossing and entertaining series with a decided supernatural bent.

The basic premise of THE DEAD ZONE centers on Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall), a former schoolteacher, who is involved in an automobile and awakens from coma six years later to discover his fiancťe Sarah (Nicole de Boer) is now married to local sheriff Walt Bannerman (Chris Bruno), who is also raising Johnnyís son as his own. Although Johnny has lost much, he emerges from his coma with the gift of second sight, which he uses to help ordinary people, as well as helping the authorities with criminal investigations. The cast of THE DEAD ZONE also features John L. Adams, David Ogden Stiers, and in a recurring role, Sean Patrick Flanery as Greg Stillson, a shady politician, whose frightening future Johnny has seen. THE DEAD ZONE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($50) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features the following nineteen episodes: Valley of the Shadow, Descent, Ascent, The Outsider, Precipitate, Scars, Misbegotten, Cabin Pressure, The Man Who Never Was, Dead Men Tell Tales, Playing God, Zion, The Storm, Plague, Deja Voodoo, The Hunt, The Mountain, The Combination and Visions.

Lionís Gate Entertainment has made THE DEAD ZONE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Each episode looks quite good, producing a crisp and very nicely detailed image. Colors are nicely saturated, with natural looking flesh tones and no signs of noise or smearing. Blacks are deep, whites are clean and contrast is better than expected for a television level production. Other than a few minor instances, digital compression artifacts are fairly well concealed.

In addition to the fine video presentation, each episode features a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Exceedingly well mixed for a television series, the sound is engaging and draws the viewer in the world of the characters. While the forward soundstage is stronger than the rear, the surround speakers are used to very good effect when called upon to provide ambient sounds, some musical fill and occasional active sounds. Channel separation is also very good across the front, as is the level of fidelity for the tracks. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. No other language tracks are provided, but English and Spanish subtitles have been included.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode/scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. I have to say that Lionís Gate Entertainment didnít skimp on the extras (kudos to them), as each episode comes with its own entertaining and informative commentary track, featuring various members of the cast and production team, as well as an occasional guest star. Interviews are also attached to various episodes, as are deleted scenes and storyboards. Making Of An Episode is a ten-part program spread across the set, which runs over an hour in total that looks at the process of creating an episodic television series. Cast biographies close out the supplements.

THE DEAD ZONE is one of the most thoroughly entertaining shows on television, and one that I am glad has started showing up on DVD is season sets. Lionís Gate has done a great job with the DVD release of THE DEAD ZONE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON, not only providing terrific looking and sounding presentations, but an excellent compliment of extras. If you are a fan, the set is a must have. If you have never seen the show, DVD is the best way to get your feet wet, because the discs outclass broadcast- plus, there are no annoying commercials to endure. Definitely recommended.



The Dead Zone - The Complete Second Season


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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