Saturday, 6 July 2013

TV - The Returned (2012)


The current UK TV enthusiasm for importing subtitled versions of foreign TV series continues with The Returned, a French drama. A coach crash kills thirty-eight young students from a small town. Four years later, one of them returns home – looking exactly as she did at the time of the crash and behaving entirely normally. She has no idea that any time has passed, and is just puzzled that one moment she was on a coach trip, the next she woke up in the countryside near her home. Then more people, dead and buried years earlier, begin to turn up alive…

This is nothing like the usual zombie horror story that might be expected. It is handled with great realism, with the focus initially being on the reactions of the families they are returning to, varying from stunned delight to horrified rejection. By the end of the first few episodes the returned are learning what has happened to them – especially the young girl whose identical twin is now four years older, and the young man killed on his wedding day who returns a decade later to find his bride about to marry another man. Other mysteries are still to be unravelled; who is Victor, the small mute boy who came from nowhere and seems to be involved with these strange events? And why is the level of water in the local mountain reservoir dropping rapidly?

This is a different kind of fantasy; a strong and adult psychological drama, deliberately paced and dark in tone, with an air of foreboding. It is compelling viewing and supports the growing opinion that the best drama (including SF and fantasy) being made today is for television rather than the big screen. SFF blockbuster movies these days seem to be overwhelmingly about spectacular and often violent action scenes, the target audience allegedly being 12-year old boys. A TV series allows much more time for the gradual and subtle development of the plot and the characters, pulling the adult viewer into the story. We have seen this with Game of Thrones, Fringe, and Continuum, three current series which have me pinned in front of the screen. The Returned is very different from these, but still a worthy addition to this list.

2 comments:

cryhavoc999 said...

Some DJ on Radio 2 was talking about this the other day - so I gave it a go. 3 episodes in and I'm quite happy with it so far.

Anthony G Williams said...

I'm pleased to hear it but be warned, it gets increasingly strange...