Wednesday, 14 May 2014

On The Air: Staying alive

Life as usual: Henry (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille Langston (Frances Fisher) learning to cope with the return of their eight-year-old son Jacob (Landon Gimenez) who drowned in a river 32 years ago, in Resurrection.

Life as usual: Henry (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille Langston (Frances Fisher) learning to cope with the return of their eight-year-old son Jacob (Landon Gimenez) who drowned in a river 32 years ago, in Resurrection.

While the dead have come back to life on Resurrection, the show itself is struggling with its own identity.

I HATED Jason Mott’s The Returned. I felt little for its characters, it chugged along at a snail’s pace, and worst of all, it offered no resolution. So when I heard the 2013 novel was going to be adapted into a TV series, Resurrection, well, I was actually quite happy.

The premise – the dead coming back to life in the exact same form as the moment they died – is arresting enough to capture fickle-minded viewers and the novel’s whiny disposition would have to be pacier to fit the small screen.

In the opening scene of the pilot, we meet eight-year-old Jacob Langston (Landon Gimenez, who oddly reminds me of a mini Taylor Swift) who wakes up in the middle of a paddy field in a province in China. Jacob drowned in a river in Arcadia, Missouri, 32 years ago, and with the help of Immigration agent Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), he is brought back to his hometown.

Henry (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille Langston (Frances Fisher), now in their 60s, answer the doorbell only to find their son – conveniently labelled “the Returned” – not a day older or younger, wearing the same red baseball jersey, standing on their front porch with Agent Bellamy.

It is a pivotal scene and actors Smith and Fisher deliver a heartfelt, believable performance, emitting a sense of genuine excitement yet laced with cautious scepticism. It is a powerful moment that speaks to viewers universally, me included. Immediately, we are reminded of the loved ones we have lost and made to wonder what it would feel like should our dearest departed return one day.

Resurrection gets off to a strong start, thanks to its premise, but where does it go from here?

The first season of the series spans only eight episodes. Unfortunately, the first four are slow and cumbersome, albeit more bearable than the novel. They consist of flashbacks to the Langstons’ past, medical examiners poking and prodding at Jacob (and dealing with the ethical dilemmas that come with that) plus more of the Returned are introduced, giving rise to more backstories.

The mysteries don’t get answered here, and it gets more frustrating when the show dwells on its characters’ petty conflicts and dramas (ugh!). I know, it’s all in the name of character exploration, but it’s hard to say whether the writers were actually adding more layers to the characters or merely trying to buy time.

If it’s the latter, then a great way to buy time would be to introduce two attractive and very single characters and make them fall in love. Indeed, Bellamy and Arcadia’s local doctor Maggie (Devin Kelley) have a little something going on but not enough to go anywhere really. The romance plotline is so thin here, it’s almost pointless.

Thankfully, things get more interesting in the second half of the season. The same questions still remain largely unanswered but a supernatural element appears. It’s not a lot, but enough to keep audiences hooked until the finale. It’s also great to see how society responds to people and situations that don’t make sense – or, as some might call them, miracles.

All in all, Resurrection struggles with two major issues. Firstly, there isn’t a character in the show that viewers feel compelled to root for. Ideally, it should be the Langstons but at times, little Jacob gives me the impression that he is not as clueless as he seems and has a sinister agenda.

Lastly, the series, which has been picked up for a second season, has to decide if it wants to embrace its inherent supernatural element wholeheartedly, as there is a huge market for such tales should the show head in that direction.

> Resurrection airs every Monday at 10pm on Lifetime (Astro Ch 709).

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Kurtwood Smith , Omar Epps , Resurrection , Jason Mott , The Returned , supernatural , entertainment , TV


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