Something really weird happened.
In another edition of US television adequately stealing a European television mystery program in the endless pursuit to keep Americans from reading, A&E has brought Les revenants (2012) over the water and called it The Returned (2015). In ten episodes, we get a surprising amount of characters with more sub-plots than you can count. For reasons unknown, the semi-recently deceased of this small Washington town have crawled out from whence they died and avoided newspapers long enough to be shocked by the news of their own death. Perhaps surprisingly, these newly revived individuals expend most of their energies dealing with their on-hold squabbles rather than basking in the joy of life. But the real lesson of The Returned is that not everybody who comes back from the dead deserves a celebration.
This is where television has found itself an area of expertise: strategically torquing up the intrigue to keep the viewer's natural curiosity at peak levels with selective payoffs along the way. Maybe they'll figure out how to land that plane at some point. The suspension of disbelief is reliable enough to allow for people in small towns not to recognize former residents (while also knowing absolutely everyone else in town) and for law enforcement to go on some pretty radical jags without official reprimand. Hey, everyone's got a personal life, right? But despite feeling myself be manipulated by this clockwork narrative mechanism, I can't help but wonder what the hell is going on here. I guess having the female cast taking their tops off at random intervals doesn't hurt either.
"Inside the Episode" specials, "Behind the Scenes: Creating the World of The Returned"--bit rich considering it's an adaptation--and Dirk Dzimirsky on Drawing Characters from The Returned.
"The Returned" is on sale September 15, 2015 and is rated tv-14. Drama. Directed by Charles Martin, Deran Sarafian, Jennifer Getzinger, Keith Gordon, Stephen Williams, Vincenzo Natali. Written by Carlton Cuse, Raelle Tucker, Regina Corrado, Graham Roland, Bronwyn Garrity, Gianna Sobol. Starring Jeremy Sisto, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.