Saturday, May 4, 2013

TV Review: In the Flesh

In the Flesh (2013) created and written by Dominic Mitchell

In the Flesh aired on BBC3 in March and April 2013. It's a natural follow on to ideas in Day of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead--can the undead be reformed and reintegrated into society? In the Flesh begins four years after the Rising, when the dead rose from their graves and started eating people. The living eventually won out, capturing many of the zombies and then medically rehabilitating them into something close to their former selves. The zombies are technically known as suffers of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) and are unaffectionally called Rotters.

As the show begins, 19 year-old Keiren Walker is one of the first PDS suffers to leave a rehabilitation center and return home to his family. We see his life in the center and flashbacks of his flesh-eating days. These are flashbacks for him as well--one of the effects of the medicine that makes him normal is that it restores brain functions, including memories created when he was undead.

Back at home his mum and dad have a tense relation, partly due to his kid sister, Jemima, being a member of the Human Volunteer Force (HVF), an ad hoc militia begun in local areas where the military and police forces couldn't handle the zombies. So she's killed her fair share of people who are just like her brother. She isn't quite ready to accept it's really him. Lots of family tension ensues.

The small town of Roarton where they live also has lots of challenges integrating the HVF mentality of some members (including a local clergyman, Vicar Oddie, who is little more than a demagogue rousing up anti-PDS sentiments) with family members who want their loved ones back the way they were. Several different families have members come back, including one of the HVF leaders. His son returns from Afghanistan after he was killed by an IED. Also, he was Keiran's best friend.

The show has a lot of interesting ideas that play out in various ways. Kieren has trouble dealing with his family, what he's done as a zombie, and how he died. These issues are thrown into high contrast when compared with others in the town. The HVF leader seems to ignore the fact that his son is a rotter and he tries to act like everything is normal. Amy Dyer, a grammar school chum of Kieren's, was a zombie who ran with Kieren when he was a zombie. She has no family left and little to tie her to the town. She died from leukemia and lives her second life to the fullest. But she just can't quite fit in somehow.

The Vicar has some strange ideas about Christian revelation, especially the Book of Revelation. He seems to think this "rising of the dead" is not the rising of the just at the end of time and that these monsters must be dealt with before the true rising will happen later. He makes no real attempt to understand what's going on around him and preaches to the tune that the HVF leaders (who are his friends) want. 

Ultimately, the drama is about the importance of family connections, being honest with people, and doing the best that you can under difficult circumstances. Like real life, some people rise to the occasion, some people falter, and some run away. The ending is surprisingly satisfying. There's still some loose ends left which seem to be there for one of two reasons. First, it could be they want to make another series to continue the story. Second, it could be they want it to be like real life where things don't always get resolved. It seems like they are hoping to make more episodes in the future. I hope there's more to come.

Unfortunately for you all in the States, the show is not coming to BBC America till August 3, 2013, as part of Supernatural Saturday. American iTunes and Amazon do not have it streaming, so I guess unless you can hack into the BBC UK or iTunes feed, you are out of luck till then. Make an appointment in your calendar, or as they say here, "in your diary."

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