Zombies have become all the ‘Rage’ lately. We wear them, watch them, read them. So don’t be lured into thinking that, whilst we break from ABC’s ‘The Walking Dead’, the airwaves will be emptied of the infectious fad. Over in France, they’ve concocted their own unique strain. One that’s soon to take the rest of the world by storm.
Setting out on its transoceanic journey last Sunday, ‘Les Revenants’ has already had great success airing in three countries (it’s home-county of France, next-door neighbours, Belgium, and the not-so-next-door Sweden) and has now docked on familiar shores. Under a new, translated name, ‘The Returned’ broadcasts using original cast and footage. Without dubbing. Instead, it is be the first foreign television series to air at prime time on a major UK channel in two decades, with only the use of subtitles to break the language barrier.
So, apart from their ability to cross seas, what’s so special about these French corpses?
Based on the 2004 film ‘They Came Back’, now set for UK release itself, the series creates a unique slant on the (surprisingly undead) media-trend. Opening with the story of Camille, a teenage girl who dies suddenly in a school-coach crash set four years in the past, the series is to follow a variety of characters who (as suggested by the title) return, unharmed, with no recollections of dying, only the thoughts and memories of life before death.
Airing a subtitled series is, perchance, one of the biggest, most recent risks taken in British Television. It’s even a bit risky for high-roller, Channel 4. But for once, I am glad to say, they’re not shooting crap. Yes, it’s true. British television is exposing the nation to something other than a bunch of washed-up, bug-eating celebrities, mindless American Sitcoms, and Cockney rhyming slang drama! And, the more important thing? We seem to be liking it! With 1.5 million of us tuning into watch the first episode last Sunday (not including us students taking advantage of 4OD), I think it’s safe to discard those doubts of the UK not harbouring a captive audience.
Who knows?! Maybe somewhere along the line, people will find the subtitles tedious (us Brits do tend to have a short attention span when it comes to languages. Unfortunately.) Personally, I believe the series is just too goddamn engaging to not look away. It’s eerily enticing with a form of human-friendly resurrection the whole family can enjoy…if you’re the kind of family into horrific murder. And, hey, I’m betting French teachers just LOVE it!
Catch the next episode on Channel 4 at 9pm this Sunday!