Grave Ex­pec­ta­tions

The dead are ris­ing once again in the Amer­i­can re­make of Les Revenants

SFX - - Red Alert -

Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion doesn’t have the best record try­ing to adapt Euro­pean tele­vi­sion se­ries for US au­di­ences ( look at Life On Mars), but that doesn’t stop pro­duc­ers from try­ing. The lat­est at­tempt has ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Carl­ton Cuse ( Lost, Bates Ho­tel) and Raelle Tucker ( True Blood) adapt­ing the hit French genre mys­tery Les Revenants into The Re­turned.

Both se­ries are set in se­cluded moun­tain­ous towns that sud­denly find their long dead friends and fam­ily walk­ing back into their lives as if they were never gone. The trou­bling/ mirac­u­lous oc­cur­rence has a dev­as­tat­ing rip­ple ef­fect on ev­ery­one in town as long- buried se­crets un­fold among the many res­i­dents that make up the en­sem­ble cast.

Af­ter watch­ing Les Revenants, Cuse says the set up and char­ac­ter- based sto­ry­telling com­pletely hooked him. “I thought it was such a great idea and a re­ally cool premise,” he en­thuses. “We’ve seen a lot of sto­ries about peo­ple com­ing back from the dead where they are in­tent on mur­der and may­hem. This took an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ap­proach as a char­ac­ter- ori­ented story all about th­ese peo­ple deal­ing with the most pro­found is­sues of life.”

Cuse ac­quired the rights, and with Tucker, set about faith­fully trans­lat­ing the nar­ra­tive arcs of the French se­ries. “In terms of [ our se­ries] start­ing in the same place, I thought if it’s not broke, why fix it?” Cuse ex­plains. “But that be­ing said, Raelle and I spent a lot of time talk­ing through the char­ac­ters and their arcs. Some of the char­ac­ters were in­com­plete in the French ver­sion and we filled in their de­tails and added new con­nec­tions with other char­ac­ters. It worked out re­ally well in terms

“I thought it was such a great idea and a re­ally cool premise”

of mak­ing some­thing that is de­rived from the French show but that very quickly be­comes some­thing orig­i­nal.

“For me the model is al­ways The Of­fice,” Cuse con­tin­ues. “The Bri­tish Of­fice and the Amer­i­can Of­fice started in very much the same

place but it didn’t take long for the Amer­i­can Of­fice to be­come its own show. With this, there’s re­ally only six episodes where there is over­lap. We don’t progress our nar­ra­tive in the same way that the French show did and there’s only eight episodes in to­tal with the French show. Af­ter that we are in wholly new ter­ri­tory.”

With a 10- episode first sea­son, Cuse prom­ises those new plot threads and char­ac­ter rev­e­la­tions will be juicy, but that au­di­ences also shouldn’t ex­pect tidy an­swers by the sea­son’s close. “The mys­tery and mythol­ogy of why peo­ple are back is not a nar­ra­tive fo­cus,” Cuse as­sures. “The show is re­ally deal­ing with the con­se­quences of what hap­pens now that they are back. We’re not re­ally in­ves­ti­gat­ing why this hap­pened.”

And that means there will be less of the su­per­nat­u­ral too. “There is a lit­tle bit more un­ex­plained weird­ness and mys­tery in the French show,” Cuse con­cedes. “We have some el­e­ments of what Raelle and I re­fer to as a mag­i­cal re­al­ism but I think less than the French show.” He says it will help dis­tin­guish the shows even more as a sec­ond sea­son of Les Revenants is ex­pected later this year. “We set our story in mo­tion and have our own char­ac­ters and nar­ra­tive mo­men­tum. The two will now ex­ist par­al­lel to each other but in­de­pen­dent from here on in.”

The Re­turned airs on A& E from 9 March.

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