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12.13.2017
Burning Zone, The (1996)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger
08.09.09

Burning Zone, The (1996) Jeffery Dean Morgan, who would battle SUPERNATURAL forces twenty-years later, stars as Dr. Edward Marcase, who is recruited to head a special biological task force that investigates weird diseases. He's joined with Dr. Kimberly Shiroma (Tamlyn Tomita) and their bodyguard Agent Michael Haley (James Black). In the first episode, which is among the best of the entire series, they deal with an intelligent virus that's been let out of its prison after 15,000 years. It takes over an archeologist, who it more or less turns into a type of vampire. They discover that a worldwide flood had wiped out the virus before, because of a bacteria found in the ocean. And they use this same bacteria to defeat it again. There is also a supernatural/spiritual element, as the virus is depicted as a demon and there's the appearance of a Christ-like figure.

Dr. Daniel Cassian (Michael Harris) joins the cast, as their new boss, in the second episode, and he comes across as a difficult hard ass. He looks very much like Bob Eubanks from THE DATING GAME show and I kept on waiting for him to say the word "Whoopee".

the third episode, however, the stories start to get silly. Rene Aurberjonois (STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE) appears as the devil who disrupts a St. Michael's day festival each year. Then, in another episode that involves spontaneous human combustion the Jesus dude that appeared in the first episode makes another glowing appearance. In another episode Marcase even dies and visits hell, though the demons can't touch him because he's such a good guy. By now the show is extremely hokey.

However, in episode 11, the two main characters of Marcase and Shiroma are ditched (or they quit because the show was sucking) and Dr. Brian Taft (Bradford Tatum) is introduced. He is a much more interesting character than those two combined. Also, Cassian becomes much more hands on rather than just an advisor to the group. The producers even try to make him more "human" by giving him an ex-wife and a daughter. The story lines are also much more plausible in nature, no more of this "diseases are evil" scenario. Instead, they introduce a "real" threat, in the last few episodes, in the form of an Army splinter group who uses terrorism to get their point across.

My favorite episode is the one in which people are contracting severe osteoporosis so that their bones break while doing such activities as jogging, with the jagged bone shards sticking through their flesh. It made me cringe.

It's too bad this show was cancelled after 19 seasons. It was just starting to shape up.

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