Thursday, October 6, 2016

TV Review: The Returned (2015)

The Returned (2015) executive produced by Carlton Cuse

This show starts out as an almost scene for scene remake of the sensational French television series from 2012. The story is switched from an isolated mountain town in France to an isolated mountain town in northwestern United States. The town is planning memorials for a dam break that killed a bunch of people 30 years ago and for a busload of children who crashed on a mountain road four years ago. One of the girls from the bus accident, Camille, walks out of the woods not a day older and with no memory of the accident. She goes back home to her sister and now-separated parents. A wife of one of the dam workers, Helen, returns to her husband after nearly 30 years of absence; he's too ill to understand or accept her. A fiance who died six years ago, Simon, revisits his former-wife-to-be who has a six-year old daughter and is about to marry a local cop, another awkward situation. A spooky young boy shows up with no apparent family; he's taken in by a young doctor who is moved by his seeming innocence and quiet. And a serial killer returns from seven years ago. Situations are virtually identical to the French version at the beginning; even many of the names are exactly the same with occasional substitutions of English for French version (e.g. Peter was originally Pierre, Jack was Jerome).

Unfortunately, the actors aren't quite as good as the French actors. And the music is not as evocative or distinctive as in the French version. And some story points are made with a lot less subtlety. If you've seen the original version, it's hard to watch through to the more original and more divergent material in the last third of the season.

Some of the character's story arcs are changed from the French series. And an out-of-town reporter shows up asking questions about the dead who have come back. Intriguing new questions and dramatic possibilities open up, similar to the way the television show Lost went along (Carlton Cuse was executive producer for Lost as well as this show). I had that nagging feeling that answers would always bring more questions, like it continued to do for Lost. That became a little disappointing in that show's final season. Sadly, this American version of the Returned has been canceled by its network, so I guess no answers will ever come.

My advice is to watch the original French series and skip this version.

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