Upon first hearing about ABC’s new sci-fi drama Resurrection, my first thought was, “oh. OK. So… Walking Dead, but without the hilariously graphic violence due to network television limitations.” Then, I read a very brief synopsis—“dead people come back to life”—and my second thought was, “oh. OK. So, Pet Semetary, only with people instead of cats and junk. Well, except for the part where Gage comes back as a sinister, scalpel-wielding toddler and the main guy’s wife comes back with a bitchin’ head wound.”
The more I read, however, leads me to believe that it will be neither. It seems to be a little more character-driven and mostly absent of ghoulishness. (The recently reinvigorated dead won’t have sloughing-off skin and beetles crawling out of their noses, or anything.) I still don’t know that I’m 100% SOLD, but I’m willing to give it a shot with Sunday night’s premiere. Here’s why.
As previously noted—when I reviewed ABC’s god-awful, short-lived sci-fi flop The River a couple of years ago—I like scary stuff. I like dead things and ghosts and cults and Satanic based whatsits and supernatural shit of most measures. I don’t know why, and I’ve long since given up trying to figure it out. Some people just have that gene that finds pleasure in the unknown and evil. (Hey– at least I’m not my cousin Brian who has a kid named Damien- yes, as a tribute to the youthful antichrist from The Omen– and another with the middle name of LeVay, because, you know, Church of Satan, bro.)
I also like new, creative endeavors when it comes to crotchety ol’ television. Despite living in a great era for innovation in programming—Breaking Bad, The Wire, Mad Men, The Americans, True Detective, Boardwalk Empire (and I could go on, and on)—there’s still a TON of formulaic, worthless garbage that regularly gets foisted on the viewing public.
And network TV is the chief offender.
So it seems refreshing, then, that they’re taking a chance on a show that isn’t a GRITTY LOOK AT THE SEEDY UNDERBELLY OF OFFICE POLITICS, or a ROMPY SITCOM ABOUT AN AVERAGE FAMILY WHO PUTS THE FUN IN DYSFUNCTION! (lolz)
This seems different. Inventive, for network television, even.
Based off of Jason Mott’s 2013 debut novel The Returned (which was inspired by a French television series of the same name, which ITSELF was based off the 2004 French zombie film They Came Back , so, just kidding about any originality here), Resurrection takes place in the southeastern Missouri town of Arcadia (a real place! [though the show is filmed in Atlanta]), and basically, well, people start coming back from the dead. It starts with the reemergence of a kid who drowned 30 years ago waking up in a field in China. One of the few things he remembers is that he hails from Arcadia. An immigration official—portrayed by one of the few recognizable names in the cast, Omar Epps—takes him back to the states where he (presumably) freaks the shit out of his parents, now old, withered and thoroughly confused by the eerily impossible reappearance of their long-dead son.
It’s a simple enough premise; how convoluted the writers choose to make everything else will likely dictate whether or not the show remains watchable after a handful of episodes. Given that this is network television, and they’re dealing with fairly abnormal subject matter, there’s a heightened risk of failure. That said, it doesn’t mean it CAN’T work. Lost was a huge hit—critically and otherwise—for many seasons. Resurrection could find a similar success, but it’ll be no easy task.
One thing is certain, though: it can’t be any more shit-tastic than The River. That’d be nearly impossible.
Resurrection premiers Sunday on ABC, 8PM CT