The Dead Zone

Season 1 Episode 5

Unreasonable Doubt

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Jul 14, 2002 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
118 votes

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Episode Summary

Unreasonable Doubt
Johnny is summoned to jury duty on a murder trial. Johnny starts to get visions which lead him to believe the accused is innocent. He is the only not-guilty vote

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  • Lovely episode, telling a story that needed to be told, with just a hint of good old supernatural ability.

    I must say I'm somewhat of a late comer to the delights of The Dead Zone (judging by the date on this review some 5 years late) nevertheless each episode continues to grab me in a unique and thought provoking way. And this one's no different.

    When it first becomes clear we'll be in a courthouse for an hour i thought "boring" but as with most sci-fi, however bad, i'll give it a go. How wrong i would have been to turn this little beauty off early. The Dead Zone Team (DZT) get just about everything right in this episode. It doesn't take a genius to work out this is about far more than 12 people in a jury, but more a microcosmic glance at society as a whole it's prejudices, it's laziness, it's bitterness and ultimately it's reason. Having heard some of the trial and some of the evidence against the defendant we enter the jury room for deliberation. It becomes clear pretty quickly that everyone, apart from Johnny, wants to find the accused guilty and get home in time for the baseball. But Johnny's doubts and subsequent 'not guilty' vote mean they all have to go back to square one and re-examine the evidence (I presume the verdict had to be unanimous, lawyer anyone??). Anyway, in doing so Johnny is able to use his ability to show them things about the case they'd either forgotten, ignored, or simply didn't know. But in my mind the most poignant aspect to this episode is that although Johnny uses his ability to discover new facts about the case, it's not enough, he and his fellow jurors have to actually find the evidence in the myriad that was presented in court. Thus making it less about him and his powers and more about how we work together, how we process information available to us about certain people and how we're all affected by bias. As a result the journey into the lives of some of the jurors, their fears and feelings, likes and dislikes, ends up turning the whole show on it's head. Not only do they all (bar Johnny) change their verdicts about the case, they all change their verdicts about Johnny. They start by thinking they're the rational ones who've analysed the evidence and come to a good and proper decision based on this, and that Johnny and his special ability mean he can't possibly be impartial. But, as it happens he is the most impartial one of the lot, and in a quiet unassuming way sticks another two fingers up to the doubters. When will they learn? Good effort DZT.moreless
  • Unoriginal, but you just don't care.

    Courtroom episodes like this have been done a thousand times before. I don't know what it's like, but for all I know this is an important aspect of American society. Every TV show has had an episode similar to this one, and most of the time it went exactly the same.

    The voting starts and everyone deems the defendant guilty as charged, except for the main character. Slowly he convinces everyone if the guy's innocence, until there are only one or two holdouts left. Convincing the first one goes remarkable easy, the second one not so much, but in the end he saves the day and an innocent man's life.

    When watching this episode you don't care so much that it's the epitomy of unoriginality. The individual aspects that make The Dead Zone the show it is provide for some much needed variation, and actually make this a courtroom episode worth watching!moreless
  • Nice courtroom drama ep.

    It's Stephen King meets "12 Angry Men"!

    Literally. That is the plot. That's actually all you need to know about the plot. Just take the plot of "12 Angry Men" (the movie with Henry Fonda), and add some visions, and you get this episode.

    Not that I'm complaining. I love both shows, and this ep was a joy to watch (and, one year after seeing The Dead Zone for the first and only time until now, this was the only ep I remembered with any clarity). My only complaint (and the only reason I didn't give this a rating above 9) is that, towards the end of the ep, a man utters the words, "Can it be true? Have I been judging the wrong man?" Which is not exactly the world's greatest example of realistic dialogue.

    But the plot and the effects were, as always, quite good, and character development is... not really applicable for this ep.moreless
  • really good homage to "12 Angry Men (1957)"

    when Jon gets called to the court and you see 12 jurors sitting there you know instantly what is going on, that this episode is about the plot of "12 Angry Men (1957)" where 11 people vote guilty and only one person votes not guilty but asks the right questions and changes the other jurors votes one by one to not guilty!

    I enjoyed this very much!
  • A terrific episode that develops very nicely and has some amazing moments.

    Unreasonable Doubt is one one of my favorite episodes and is a true pleasure to watch. The story really develops throughout the episode and is unique. The special effects in the visions were great in this episode. This episode was one of the better episodes in the first season. This episode was written well, with a few twists in the episode kept it interesting. Acting was great in the episode and all the characters were involved.

    All in all, this was a very good episode. I was kept into the story throughout the episode. I was never bored and there were no slow, dragging moments.moreless
Blu Mankuma

Blu Mankuma

Ben Cartwright

Guest Star

Jim Byrnes (I)

Jim Byrnes (I)

Vic Goodman

Guest Star

Esme Lambert

Esme Lambert

Agatha Christie

Guest Star

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Are we supposed to believe that the defense let not one but two obviously biased jurors slip through the jury selection process? This seems highly unlikely even if the defense attorney were an incompetent public defender.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Judge: Mr. Smith, is the defendant guilty or not guilty?
      Johnny: I don't know, Your Honor.
      Judge: Good answer. As far as I'm concerned, we've all got a sixth sense. It's called our conscience. Can I count on you to use yours and judge this case fairly?
      Johnny: Yes, sir.
      Judge: Mr. Smith, you're juror number twelve. We saved you a seat.

    • Bruce: It's a jury summons. Don't worry, I'll write you a doctor's note - "Still recovering from coma."

    • (checking his mailbox)
      Johnny: I wonder what it will be today?
      Bruce: A rubber rattlesnake, or maybe a live one.

    • Ben: I'm Ben Cartwright. Not the one on the Ponderosa, as you may have guessed.

  • NOTES (5)


    • Johnny: Not bad, Carnac.
      This is a reference to Carnac the Magnificent, a turbaned psychic played by former talk show host Johnny Carson, who could answer questions in letters before seeing them, simply by placing each envelope against his forehead. For instance: "Gatorade." Then he would open the envelope and read the question: "What does an alligator get on welfare?"

    • Juror: You are about to enter another dimension...
      A reference to the popular anthology series The Twilight Zone hosted by Rod Serling, who uttered these words.

    • Winters: Hand it over, Apu.
      Directed to the Middle Eastern store owner, a reference to the store owner in The Simpsons.