The headline may sound like an insult, but it’s not exactly. ABC’s new series, Resurrection — which on Sunday had the best premiere for a drama on the network since 2009’s V — had a pilot episode as engaging and compelling as CBS’s Under the Dome last summer. However, it’s also the kind of premise, like Under the Dome, that might grow wearisome quickly.
That said, some clunky writing and average acting aside, the opening salvo for Resurrection was definitely compelling enough to keep us watching, if only to see what the hell is going on. Although it has a similar premise to the widely acclaimed but little watched French undead series, Les Revenants, The Returned is actually based on a different source, The Returned by Jason Mott. Brad Pitt and his production company, Plan B, brought the series to ABC.
Here’s the killer premise: Dead citizens from a small town in Missouri called Arcadia come back to life, not as zombies, but as themselves. The catch: They return to life years after they died. The pilot’s main focus is on a young boy named Jacob Langston (Landon Gimenez), who wakes up in a swampy field in China 32 years after he originally died in a drowning accident. J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), who works for Immigration, helps Jacob track down his parents, who have obviously aged, and who have no idea what to think about the fact that their son has returned to them, unharmed and unaged.
With a premise like that, it’s certainly fun to marvel at the looks on people’s faces when their loved ones return to them years after they died, and to follow them through the un-grieving process (shock, happiness, disbelief, acceptance). But the bigger question is: What the f**k is going on in this small town and why are these people returning from the dead?
It’s that mystery that will likely string us along, at least for a while. It’s a limited run series (8 episodes), so hopefully there’s enough to that premise not to test our patience too much (unlike Under the Dome, which quickly ran out of steam and yet was renewed for another season). It’s also necessary to overlook the sort of network quality to the series — a little too safe, a little too glossy, and not quite as dark as it needs to be. It’d be a perfect AMC series under the right showrunner, but I am concerned that it won’t live up to the premise’s potential on ABC.
With all those caveats aside, however, I admit that I’m hooked, at least for now. There’s probably no way that the explanation will ultimately satisfy, but I’m nevertheless dying to know what’s behind it.