30 October 2013

What's French for "Good TV Show"? Thoughts on THE RETURNED

For Halloween weekend, I had planned on watching eight episodes of the first season of The Returned. This French drama series is scheduled to start airing on the Sundance Channel in the US on Oct 31st, but it has already aired and earned rave reviews in the UK a few months prior.

I had planned on checking out just the first episode today, since I've been reading a lot of praises for it on my Twitter feed.

Because the story revolves around the dead returning, I was expecting brain-munching zombies would be present, with their flesh rotting and bleeding, similar to the ones on The Walking Dead. (Only gnarling and growling in French!) I was prepared to be creeped out by this idea, which is why I took a peek of the first episode during the day.

Immediately though, it became evident that this show wasn't like the usual zombie series. There's nothing terrifying and disgusting about the undead on The Returned.

Meet Lena and Camille...

Twins Lena and Camille reunited.
Camille has been dead 4 years. When she returned, she became more terrified to find her twin sister Lena looking older than her. It wasn't easy to keep things a secret, and Camille soon learned the truth. So, she starts questioning her existence and purpose, especially when her family tries assimilating her, as if things were normal.

Soon after Camille appeared, coming home with only the memory of where she's been last before she died, other souls from different time periods also returned.

Adele and Simon. He died 10 years ago, on the day of their wedding. 

Viktor. He's been dead 30 years, I think.
I'm only up until the 3rd episode (there goes my weekend marathon plan!), so the story is still unfolding as I write this.

But so far, people in the town are starting to discover the dead coming back. And aside from that, certain events have also emerged that may answer, or open more questions and confusion to why these souls are there.

The Returned, which takes place in a small town that reminds me of Twin Peaks, is a stunning series with so much of that layered and complex French storytelling style. I'm told the story will get weirder as it goes --- part-fantasy, part-sci-fi and part-drama/mystery.

Will you be watching The Returned?

The show is going to be adapted for US production by the cable network A&E, with the people behind Lost working on it. Come to think of it, The Returned is also a lot like Lost, with these souls still finding out how to achieve peace in the after-life.

But ABC has its own version, too. Here's a preview of Resurrection, airing mid-season: