Dead among the living: Resurrection stars (from left) Mark Hildreth, Kurtwood Smith, Landon Gimenez, Frances Fisher, Omar Epps, Devin Kelley, Matt Craven, Samaire Armstrong and Sam Hazeldine.
What happens when your dead loved ones come back to life? Find out in this TV series.
ZOMBIES, please shuffle away because there is a new undead in town.
Resurrection, an eight-episode TV series, showcases deceased residents of Arcadia, Missouri, coming back to life ... but not in any decaying form but rather in the exact same state they were before they died.
Using Jason Mott’s novel The Returned as its foundation, the series opens with a beautiful shot of an eight-year-old Caucasian boy (Landon Gimenez) waking up in a paddy field in China with no clue how he ended up there. His casefile arrives on immigration officer Martin Bellamy’s (Omar Epps) messy desk, who then decides to drive Jacob, the young boy, back to his hometown. Here, Martin discovers the couple Jacob identifies as his parents – Henry and Lucille Langston (Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher) – have lost their eight-year-old son in a drowning incident 32 years ago.
So, who is this boy who looks like their Jacob in every way, right down to the shirt he wore when he was buried? The mystery deepens when Jacob is not the only one back from the dead.
Actor Smith – who was in Kuala Lumpur last week to promote the series, along with co-star Epps – agrees Resurrection has a more complex layer than a typical zombie show; it deals with the consequences and the different emotions one goes through upon the loss of someone we love.
“For one thing zombies don’t really have any character, they are just zombies. (The stories are) how others react to them. In our situation we have real people, who bring a whole new set of conflicts with them, whether they are doing it on purpose or not,” says Smith.
“The fact that (Henry Langston’s) son is alive causes problems between his wife and him. And for my character – in terms of his personal conflict – what he has done with his life since the drowning. So because he is a real boy, not just a problem like a zombie is, he causes (Henry) to react to him in a certain way.”
It is this very reaction that brings up one of the more interesting and emotional aspects of the series. As with any father who has buried his child, Henry had an immense difficulty dealing with his loss. The assumed reaction of a returned loved one would be that of happiness at a second chance, but that isn’t the case for Henry.
“He buried his son, put him in the ground, yet this actual living, breathing boy does and say all the right thing. But he can’t be there.”
The 70-year-old American who has been acting for more than 30 years is no stranger to playing a father – his most famous one was in the sitcom That ‘70s Show, in which he played Red Forman for eight years. But Red is a different kind of dad than Henry, something Smith acknowledges.
“I usually play a hard-nosed fella. There is work involved in doing comedy especially in a show like That ‘70s Show, in terms of timing to get the laughs – there is timing in dramatic role as well, but still it’s different – there is an emotional reality that you have to call up all the time that could be difficult on you, emotionally. So, this is very different for me and a challenge,” says Smith, who has two children.
When asked how he would react if someone he lost turns up on his doorstep, Smith says: “Probably pretty close to the way I reacted on the show. But it would depend on who it was too. If it was my mother, who passed away last October, or if it was my father who was killed in 1945, it would be different.
“My biological father was killed in World War II, I never saw him, he was overseas when I was born. So, I think he’d be a great person to see. Of course, he would be 24 years old and I would be older, so that would be odd,” he shares.
“Do I believe something like this could happen, not right now; but who does?”
So while death is part of life, is there a reason why we are fascinated with what’s beyond? Smith theorises: “It’s the great unanswered question. Even if you feel you have great faith – not only in religion but also what you feel – you don’t really know, you only have faith that you know. And that question is why we’re curious.”
Resurrection premieres tonight (May 12) at 10pm on Lifetime (Astro Ch 709).
Watch: Omar Epps talks zombies, Brad Pitt and Resurrection
Kurtwood Smith and his two memorable characters