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The Dead Zone
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi drama based on a Stephen King novel depicts supernatural powers, crime, murder, and conspiracy. Situations can be scary and sometimes involve children at risk. Several characters are shady, including a Christian church leader. Storylines involve intimate adult relationships and sometimes include potentially confusing messages about marriage and sex.
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What's the story?
In psychological thriller THE DEAD ZONE (based on Stephen King's 1979 novel), Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) wakes from a six-year coma to find that his world has changed: His mother has died, and his wife has remarried, and he's gained the ability to foresee the future by touching people and objects. He uses his newfound powers to fight for good, though he struggles with interpreting his visions and sometimes makes devastating mistakes. The series follows a somber, sensitive Smith as he tangles with politicians, investigates crimes, and tries to piece his life back together.
Is it any good?
The Dead Zone has elements that make it a potential cult hit -- the supernatural, political conspiracy, a mysterious future, and even Smith's tortured soul -- but it also has multiple weaknesses that keep it from being a true success. The one black character (John L. Adams as Bruce Lewis) in the otherwise all-white cast has minimal importance and often just seems along for the ride. And if Smith would lighten up occasionally, it would actually allow viewers to take him more seriously. Watching him manage his visions is an exciting aspect of the show, but Hall overplays the seriousness of his role a bit and tends to hold a stoic expression in almost every scene. Also, his face is consistently lit from an angle, adding both an otherworldly and sort of silly melodramatic effect.
With murder, crime, and conspiracy at the forefront, The Dead Zone isn't for younger folks. Some episodes are more gruesome than others, and some involve children being threatened or killed. Most older teens should be able to handle the material.