Sometimes they come back… with American accents
There are times during the
first couple of episodes of this US adaptation of French supernatural series Les Revenants when it feels less like a remake and more like a cover version. This perception is reinforced by the fact that, if you didn’t check on IMDb, you’d swear they’d cast at least two of the actors from the original show as the same characters: the US Camille and Simon are spookily similar to the Gallic counterparts.
You know, however, it’s not going to last. The French show was consummate Euroweird. Its story of an isolated town in the mountains where the dead are returning and causing all sorts of problems for the living was told in meandering and enigmatic fashion, embracing such concepts alien to mainstream US audiences as longueurs and characters whose emotions you could never fully read. So by episode six the US version has become the extended remix, adding story beats and itching to over- explain everything.
Its main arsenal in this respect is “the flashback”. Showrunner Carlton Cuse is no stranger to “the flashback”, having been a prime mover on Lost. Admittedly, Lost was hardly a show renowned for its answers, so possibly Cuse seemed like a good choice. But while Lost’s plot threads may have been left dangling, the show had an almost pathological obsession with justifying its characters’ actions in the present through flashbacks. The US Returned is the same. Decisions have to be driven by a past trauma. So elements that in the original were only intriguingly suggested or hinted at, are now made thuddingly clear, while some character dynamics have been altered to be more straightforward.
The result is a show that’s best viewed if you’ve never seen the original, with no preconceptions. Because within its US TV parameters, it’s actually rather good and much better than the dreary, thematically similar Resurrection. Great locations, creepy direction, excellent acting, plenty of shocks and twists.
For people who don’t like reading their TV, it’s not a bad alternative. Dave Golder
Les Différences: Showrunner Carton Cuse exclusively revealed in a Variety interview, “We definitely smoke a lot less cigarettes in the American version.”
Treading Its Own Path: If the show receives a second season order, it will have no story connection to the second season of Les Revenants.
Abandoned: At one point Clocking Off and Shameless creator Paul Abbott was developing an English version of The Returned but the project was abandoned.
Star Turn: Michelle Forbes ( Star Trek: The Next Generation, True Blood) is spookily magnificent as the formerly dead Helen Goddard, stealing every scene she’s in.
Best Lines: Julie: “How do you know if you’re dead?” Helen: “There’s only one way to find out.” oddballs, computers and others that make up the crew. The dynamics are familiar – a team of misfits who must somehow work together in a life- threatening situation and the ways in which they rub each other up the wrong way. It doesn’t always work, as Lipinski and the rest are often more annoying than amusing with their various personality quirks. But Feig and co have a good handle on making their foibles relatable, and while the science fiction stuff can be little sidelined, there’s good value to be had, particularly from sarcastic robot ART ( Trace Beaulieu) and laidback engineer Zalian ( Joel Hodgson), veterans of blending genres from Mystery Science Theater. And, at eight half- hour- long episodes, this is more of a light binge than a long slog. James White
Inspirational: Feig has cited the likes of UK shows such as Red Dwarf and Hyperdrive as influences on the series, along with his long- established love for Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Special Effects: While the sets might be cheap, the stylish VFX come from Zoic Studios, the people behind Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and many more series.
Deja Vu: Though Feig says Other Space isn’t a parody of science fiction tropes, it opens with a homage to Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru simulator scenes.
Best Line: ART: “Robots are only good for three things. Cheap labour, remote bombing and... off the beaten path sex stuff.”
tv reviews and opinion Will a hand suddenly pop out of the wall? We say 50/ 50.