Despite a similar premise, Resurrection hasn't a chance of matching The Returned.

ResurrectionReading the premise of Resurrection you could be forgiven for thinking this is the American adaptation of the excellent French drama, The Returned, currently screening on SBS 2.

But Resurrection is anything but…

It may be based on a book called The Returned (the source work and author, Jason Mott, have nothing to do with the French series) and it may even be about apparently-dead people returning home, but that’s about where the correlation ends.

The series begins atmospherically enough when an 8 year old boy Jacob (Landon Gimenez) awakens in a field in China. With seemingly no idea how he got there, he wanders through rural China. There’s a dirty big yak, and local Chinese folk wearing peasant costumes and conical rice paddy hats. With such stereotypes Jacob may well have travelled back in time too…

Immigration agent Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps) is assigned the task of bringing the boy home to America. It doesn’t help that Jacob doesn’t say much, but although he responds to questions and conversations, the most he can manage is to write down the word “Arcadia,” his hometown in Missouri. So that’s where Bellamy decides to take him.

A scene that has been heavily-promoted in marketing sees Bellamy knock on the door of retired couple Harold (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille (Frances Fisher). When Bellamy learns Harold’s son died 32 years earlier, both are stunned when Jacob insists he is the boy, now returned home.

Unable to explain his circumstance, we spend the rest of the episode trying to piece together Jacob’s true identity and backstory. This involves a number of other characters entering the foreground: Harold’s Sheriff brother Fred (Matt Craven), nurse and niece Gail (Devin Kelly), local priest Tom (Mark Hildreth) and assorted townsfolk.

There’s also an ominous, hooded stranger wandering Arcadia and observing Jacob from afar. What, exactly, is his secret and is he part of the solution or the problem?

The investigation leads Bellamy to an incident 32 years ago involving Harold’s son and members of the family, which I won’t spoil here. Despite the fact Jacob is able to speak it seems our trusty Immigration agent would rather trawl through newspapers and town archives than interview him at length. This detours Resurrection towards standard procedural stuff.

Despite some handsome production values and occasionally interesting camerawork, much of the intrigue of Resurrection‘s pilot is packed into the opening sequence. Once it hits Arcadia, also known to audiences as smalltown-USA, the plotting becomes sluggish and the emotive music is layed on thick. Wait until you see the pure-white Church they are lumbered with.

The dialogue spends a lot of time signposting the plot and lacks depth.

-“How the hell did you end up in China?”

-“I told you Feds on the phone you had the wrong kid. You just show up here and start harassing my brother’s family?”

-“Sometimes things happen in the world that are meant to test our faith.”

-“It’s Ray he’s talking crazy and he’s got a gun!”

The performances are earnest and lack subtext. Omar Epps tries his best with some unsubtle material.

The themes of the series, belief, faith and (potentially) reincarnation are given the broad-brushstroke Hollywood treatment here.

I am reminded of other high-concept dramas in recent years: FlashForward and The Event -they promise a lot but fail to deliver as episodic television (despite some frustrating seasons, I don’t dare put the ground-breaking Lost in the same category).

Based on the first episodes of Resurrection, I’m calling this one early. Maybe the English language remake of The Returned (coming from FremantleMedia) will improve. Better yet just go and catch-up on the enigmatic French series.

Resurrection airs 8:30pm Tuesdays on Seven.

22 Responses

  1. One thing that seems to have evaded discussion, is that Resurrection is an ABC Studios production, in which “Lost” was also produced by.

    Anyone not in the least bit curious that the letter type for this show and “Lost” are the same?

  2. This show is a slow burn and really would have benefited by a Double epp. start,seriously by the end of the Third episode my ears were pricked and am now looking for more…Do not give up on it just yet.

  3. “The Power Of Love” was also used as the John Lewis 2013 Christmas song. I thought it had been used as a Downton Abbey trailer (UK) track but no. It still is ubiquitous.

  4. Thank God episode 1 has finally viewed. Is anyone else tired of watching the same preview hundreds of times?. What are you thinking Channel 7?. I did not watch the show cause I had had enough. We’ve taken to recording the Channel 7 shows we watch so we dont have to watch the Resurrection preview yet again.

  5. Watched last night, but hit record and switched channels, just after the kid who it appears has remained a kid for 32 years,but as yet who knows where?, and despite his lack of displaying any bewilderment, and then also manipulates a smart phone within minutes,to type in ‘ Arcadia ‘, as smart phones have emerged en-mas only recently, my question yet to be answered, is ‘how’ considering and backdating 32 years, this 8 year old’s phone experience would have probably been from near the end of the big plastic land line dial phone era,(if he was lucky), and it may also be as intriguing with any other rapid adaptions of other technological advancements,

    In fairness I will watch this complete episode shortly only without the adds, and much still depends on how many of the other episodes

  6. i watched this tonight, first time i’ve watched a drama show live on a commercial network in along time & it reminded me why i usually timeshift them. Ad breaks weren’t too much until the last 20 mins of the show & i’m guessing they held back a little because its the pilot & they want people to get engrossed before they sneak in more ads in coming episodes.
    What did really bother me though was the blurb across the bottom of screen advertising the 7 news ‘special’ on the Malaysian flight. You would think they could at least wait until later in the show but no, they had to do it only a few minutes into the start which impacted on my enjoyment of it. Even if i had recorded it i would still had to put up with that. And they wonder why people seek alternate viewing methods.
    Other than that, i found it to be enjoyable viewing, it has me intrigued enough to keep watching but i…

  7. Thanks David for again highlighting The Returned (Les Revenants). Sadly though, many more people will watch Seven’s over-hyped series instead, which will pale in comparison.

  8. I have seen a couple of episodes so far this was better than I thought! And I really am sick to death of cop based shows which is like 98.9 percent of TV these days! So this show is a blessing!!

  9. Just the promos for this convinced me it was going to be crap. Another of those long drawn out US tv series that ultimately insult the intelligence of the viewer. This review politely confirms my well found concerns, so I will not bother.

    I don’t think that it will rate, ch10 have a chance against this nonesense….will they take it?

    If this does rate successfully for ch7, I will happily join the “you can put anything on 7 and it will rate” brigade

  10. Thanks for the review, it’s pretty much what I thought it would be. I find Rotten Tomatoes to be a reliable indicator and it has it at a rating of 52%.

    I think I’ll prob still give this a look as the first ep is supposed to be quite good (or at least intriguing) but I can’t see me lasting beyond the second or third ep.

  11. Hmm…sounds like it’s ventured into ” Dome” territory.
    I lasted 2 eps with that one until I couldn’t be bothered watching any more as it got more and more ridiculous.

    Anyway I will give “Resurrection” a chance but sounds like I shoudn’t be expecting too much at all.
    (The excellent “The Returned” would be a very hard act to follow indeed).

  12. I said this in another thread but I enjoyed the pilot of Resurrection yet the second episode was rubbish. Probably won’t bother with the third episode. There is another show on NBC that airs in the same time slot in the US that is much more entertaining

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