I wrote a while back about the French series called The Returned, which was really a much better version of what Resurrection turned out to be. A&E went ahead and remade the French series in English, the first season of which just wrapped up and yes, it’s still better than that crappy Resurrection show. But is it good on it’s own? Let’s check out this 10-episode series about dead that rise and rejoin the living.
In Caldwell, there have been a lot of tragedies. 29 years ago, the local dam burst, destroying half of the town and killing many people. Four years ago, a local school bus went off a cliff, killing even more. However, the dead don’t stay dead and the first to return, that we know of, is Camille Winship, who wakes up in the woods and wonders how she got there. However, she’s not alone, more and more people come back and their families do their best to hide the fact that they’ve returned from the dead, but that’s a secret that just can’t be kept for long.
I’ve been trying to keep my first-season reviews on TV Thursday but I also don’t want to have these running throughout the summer, there were so many freshman shows this year, plus other returning shows I wanted to write about that I’m covering June with them and there’s only so many Thursdays available.
Okay, I know this is just random, but every time I see the A&E stinger that says “Be Original”, it’s during a show that is in no way original, it’s copied from or remade from something else. I mean, Walking Dead came from a comic book, Bates Motel came from a movie and The Returned was copied from the French. Maybe they ought to change their motto to “A&E: Remake Something”.
This is a decent enough show but even though it’s far superior to Resurrection, which thankfully has been cancelled, it’s just not as good as it ought to be. The idea that these dead people can wander around and nobody is going to notice, take pictures, post things on Facebook, etc. is just ridiculous. Add to that the fact that nobody seems to be very freaked out by the dead rising from the graves. It just isn’t realistic. People would be screaming and running around. People would be pulling guns and shooting the newly undead. They wouldn’t be jumping into bed with them. They wouldn’t be unofficially adopting them. All of this is entirely unrealistic. It didn’t work in Resurrection, it doesn’t work here. Yes, the government eventually got involved in Resurrection, again unrealistically, and this is just the first short season of The Returned, they haven’t even aired a second French season yet, but in the real world, the first thing that would happen is someone would recognize the formerly dead girl known as Camille and call the cops or the National Guard or something. You wouldn’t even make it through the first episode without federal involvement. I don’t care how small or inbred the town is, that’s not how the modern world works.
The finale, which I knew how it ended because I know the French series, was pretty disjointed, it ends with thrice-dead zombie boy Tommy running back toward town, trying to stop crazy dead chick Helen from blowing up the dam and destroying the town yet again. That’s it. See you next year, maybe! There’s still so much they didn’t explain, such as why is Victor psychic and none of the others are? Why did Camille’s twin sister Lena get the same injury that Camille suffered in the bus crash and why did it eventually heal when medical science could do nothing? Was it because another returned treated it, or are we supposed to think that folk medicine is superior to real medicine? Why does Camille having sex with someone kill him, but Tommy having sex with Rowan doesn’t? We are now told that there are other towns where this has happened, by Warehouse 13’s Joanne Kelly, but if that’s true, are we supposed to believe that nobody fired up Google to find this out once the dead started to return to Caldwell? There was a cute scene where Kelly goes to see the undead counsellor named Peter Lattimore, a take-off of her Warehouse 13 partner Pete Lattimer. It would have been cool if it had been played by Eddie McClintock. Unfortunately, it all feels like a set up for something without any real resolution to any significant questions. You have to keep the mystery going, not by simply refusing to answer anything, but by continuing to ask new questions. The Returned doesn’t really do that.
Assuming it’s renewed, I’ll probably come back, just to see if they actually answer anything but it isn’t at the top of my to-watch list. It is certainly better than Resurrection but that’s not really saying much.