July 12, 2004 12:00 PM

USA (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) has visions of the future and the past, and he uses his powers to solve crimes. I yawned at the premise when this series premiered, but I’m glad I took another look last month when it started its third season.

A surprising plus is the show’s provocative political consciousness. In the two-part season opener, slick Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery), an enemy of Johnny’s, narrowly won a congressional seat by nefarious means that evoked the real-life election controversy of 2000. The July 4 episode focuses on a secret government intelligence program called Eyetrap, which will remind viewers of the Pentagon’s much criticized Total Information Awareness project. The writers go too far in suggesting that an unchecked Stillson could bring on Armageddon, but at least they’re giving us some food for thought.

The psychic hero has a potential new romantic interest in Rebecca (Sarah Wynter from 24)—if only he can get his mind off Sarah (Nicole deBoer), his former fiancée and the mother of his young son. Unfortunately, the triangle of Johnny, Sarah and her sheriff husband, Walt (Chris Bruno), is still too polite to believe.


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