by Aitch Cee
OK, stop me if you heard this one before. Young kid wakes up in the middle of nowhere, gets home and freaks parents out because kid was declared dead and buried years prior. Young lover appears to what was to be wife and freaks her out for the same reason. ABC has had a show on for the past 2 years called Resurrection but The Returned is based on a French show called Les Revenants. Yet again, we see American TV take another successful foreign show and water it down for American audiences and it remains to be seen if this will be any good. By the way, if you want to see the French version, head on over to Netflix.
So, the premise is this: similar to Resurrection, the dead are just showing up out of nowhere and integrating themselves as if nothing happened until they realize that their family and friends have moved on without them. The first episode begins with Camille who seemingly has survived a bus accident and returns home and upon confronting her mother, goes on in the typical teenager fashion of how she didn’t mean to be late because ‘something weird happened.’ Camille doesn’t realize at that point that she was dead and that her parents divorced and her identical twin, who is 4 years older now, is still trying to cope with her death and reappearance. There are other characters introduced to us as well including Simon who was supposed to get married but died shortly after finding out his fiancee was pregnant, and a young boy Victor who within the first 2 episodes, viewers know very little about.
Right from the beginning, The Returned starts to weave many twists within the plot as we learn that everyone had different ways of coping with their losses. Most had moved on with their lives and many of the characters we find out through loss found comfort in others who had lost relatives who are also among the returned. The biggest point of the story however, is how many of these characters lives intersect each other and how all of these people eventually become affected by it.
The question remains of course whether you will like this show. After 2 episodes (you can watch them both on the A&E app) this show seems like it has more interesting layers than Resurrection. As we start to learn about some of these characters that are coming back, we are also learning about some of the secrets they had and some that lead to their deaths. We are also seeing how some of the ones left behind dealt with their grief and how their mental states have affected others around them. We of course are learning that the returning people are also having issues as well. They are very hungry, for one as Camille in her opening, eats nearly enough food to feed 4, as well as Simon who does likewise at a restaurant and bails. Also, they are trying to cope with the changes around them. Then of course, there is a murder. No show like this is complete without a murder but the interesting part is the person being accused may know something about the death of the killer.
If there are any issues with the show, it may just simply be the fact that the story isn’t original. And it’s not just that it’s based off of the French series. We have seen similar shows such as The 4400 and In the Flesh. Eventually we start to wonder when the previously dead will become dangerous. Also, when doing remakes, it’s a fine line of how to keep the show interesting or getting lost in its own plot. From what I have been told, the biggest difference between this version and the French version is the subtlety of figuring out the plot twists as The Returned just telegraphs it.
To wrap up, I haven’t watched the French version, so I can’t say how it is in comparison. I may do myself the favor of watching the first few episodes thus perhaps changing my perception or sticking with it. I am sure a few people will decry this as nothing more than another one of those American revamps (yes, I am looking at you Gracepoint) and claim that the original’s better. What I do know is thus far, it has me a bit more hooked than Resurrection did and it’s even more believable to me with a few of the characters’ reactions to having long dead relatives show up being somewhere near believable. I think in some ways, as the plot unravels we may get what Resurrection has not given us; a reason WHY people are coming back but I am hoping that it doesn’t fizzle as the mysteries deepen.
3 out of 5 stars.