They are rising from the dead, but there's some surprising soul to ABC's new paranormal series.


There are two endorsements straight off the bat I can make about Glitch.

The first: as soon as Episode 1 was over I wanted to get stuck into Episode 2.

The second: we generally don’t tackle this genre in Australia. Unless perhaps you count Nowhere Boys, a tween supernatural series. Glitch is like the grown-up version, from the same executive producer in Tony Ayres (The Slap, The Devil’s Playground, Old School, Maximum Choppage). It’s darker, moody and with more soul-searching.

Whilst international television has been embracing horror and paranormal dramas such as The Walking Dead, True Blood, In The Flesh, The Returned and Resurrection it’s generally deemed a genre that requires a hefty budget. But Glitch demonstrates that it is still possible to unravel an intriguing tale without massive casts and expensive set pieces.

Set in the fictional rural Victorian town of Yoorana, the mystery wastes no time in drawing the viewer in.

Indigenous teen Beau (Aaron McGrath) is cycling past the local cemetery when he witnesses muddied, naked bodies rising from the graves. Something bizarre is going on and he tries to snap the evidence on his phone before hightailing it out of there.

Local cop Sgt. James Hayes (Patrick Brammall) responds to a disturbance call and arrives to find these naked wandering souls. He’s perplexed by the sight. “Some kind of dare? Satantic ritual? Were you just on the piss?” he asks.

Soon Dr. Elishia McKeller (Genevieve O’Reilly) arrives and this ragtag bunch of dazed and confused are taken in cars to a local health centre. As it happens the disparate group (portrayed by Sean Keenan, Daniella Farinacci, Kirstie Darrow and James Monarski) also includes James’ deceased wife, Kate (Emma Booth). He quickly reels in disbelief, given she died 2 years earlier…

“Why am I here? Why am I back?” Explanations are impossible.

Meanwhile Beau stumbles upon an elderly Irishman, Paddy Fitzgerald (Ned Dennehy), who has splintered from the group and is wandering the streets. In this collision of cultures, the racist Paddy is aimless in a place he no longer recognises, and there are hints he is even from another era. This Yoorana, Beau explains, is now “the arse end of the arse end of the world.”

Until he can explain this aberration, James seeks to protect those under his care, but another cop (Andrew McFarlane) is looking for answers to strange disturbances…. however by episode two another soul (Rodger Corser) will add to the living body count.

How the undead are linked, and what caused them to return will underpin the series, but there are clues along the way, for the audience.

Yet like any writer-created universe, there are also rules with consequences for those that dare to break them.

What’s so nice about Glitch is the way our characters enrich the plot. Under Director Emma Freeman’s hand the cast play for truth, rather than the default alternative of letting the plot overwhelm them. Whether ‘undead’ or living, these confused souls are etched in reason, subtext and flaws.

Patrick Brammall is torn between rational thoughts and personal guilt, while Emma Booth is looking to belong. Ned Dennehy’s features are perfect for his period role, and Genevieve O’Reilly always brings gravitas to her work.

Visually the drama creates an uneasy world of an isolated town, with empty streets and yellow hues. Unlike big-budget US dramas, there are few SFX and no need for dozens of roles. With barely a handful of principals, Glitch demonstrates remarkable clarity of story.

While some may deem this to be an ‘Australian Returned‘ it has more momentum and is aided by the perspective of James (Brammall) as the tale’s hero.

Glitch is escapist fun. If it can deliver some major pay-offs by the end of its 6 episodes then it may just tick all the boxes.

Glitch premieres 8:30pm Thursday July 9 on ABC (all 6 eps available on iview thereafter).

9 Responses

  1. What a great series. I was hooked from the start of the first episode. The scenery is stunning and the acting is superb. Patrick Brammall carries the whole series with his sensitive, down to earth portrayal of a country cop, but the others all make major contributions to the development of their characters. My one sadness is that the series ended too early. So many loose strings were left untied. The is easily enough material here for another complete season. Please please please do more episodes so we can journey further with James, Sarah, Kate, Beau, Eliesha, Paddy and the others as the venture on this thrilling adventure on the knife edge between life and death.

  2. It was very silly for the most part-these people are supposed to be from very different eras but all speak in contemporary ways and show no ‘culture shock’-the cop’s reaction on seeing on seeing his wife (whom he would be pretty familiar with, one imagines) was laughably understated and the ‘bag o’ Carlo’ was priceless, as was John Sullivan finding an obviously unshot projectile in the rest of the Carlo pile.

  3. Let me say first of all I was a huge fan of the original ‘Les Revenants’, the French version. Thought the American version was utterly stupid. But = Wow. ABC congrats. You got me hooked. Cannot wait for the next episode next week. Just hoping you won’t let us down.

  4. God, if I see one more series about zombies/undead/returned-from-the-dead/disappeared-then-returned I’ll scream until I’m dead. Talk about a worn-out trope, let’s stick this junk in with the vampire tales that seem to have finally(?) died out, I hope… but they always seem to return!

  5. And The Left Overs – It’s quite popular genre.

    Les Revenants and Resurrection, the novels that inspired them (and the Japanese novel written before that) were all big on mystery and themes without much plot or explanation.

    Interesting to see what Glitch’s take will be.

  6. Thanks for the review, you’ve confirmed my decision to watch this altho’ the promo that I’d seen did make me want to check it out. I got a ‘Les Revenants’ vibe from it and wouldn’t be unhappy if that’s the closest comparison rather than The Walking Dead, which I’ve had enough of for now.

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