Today we’ve got a TV review from a new-ish FlixChatter contributor Dave W.. who gave us the excellent write-up of Broadchurch last October. Thanks Dave!
The Sundance Channel brought over the fabulous, 8-episode, French series The Returned (Les Revenants) which aired in November and December. To say it was the best new thing I saw aired on US TV, other than Broadchurch, last year is an understatement. The less you know going in the better so I won’t be giving too much away.
The story is set in a small French mountain town where people from the past suddenly start showing up on the doorsteps of their families and loved ones. The problem is they don’t know they’re dead. The reactions from the living run from thinking their prayers have been answered to the abject horror of seeing a ghost. The mystery of what is really going on is what makes this series really compelling. There is so much more going on here than just what you see in the first few episodes but I’ll leave that for you to discover.
The show by Fabrice Gobert is a supernatural thriller that plays out more like a drama. The closest thing I can compare it to is Twin Peaks without all the wackiness. There’s even a diner, a roadhouse and mountain peaks peering out in the background. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a nod to David Lynch’s groundbreaking show. The characters are so well-drawn out and memorable that you really get wrapped up in the story especially with having unfamiliar French actors deliver such exquisite, understated performances. Add some truly beautiful, dark cinematography that would make DP, Gordon “The Prince of Darkness” Willis proud and atmospheric music from the Scottish post-rock band Mogwai and you have the winner of the International Emmy for Best Drama which sits atop of Metacritic’s TV scores with an aggregate score of 92%.
Ted S., I remember you having some frustration with a certain AMC series that just wasn’t living up to its promise. Well Ted… this is the real deal. What else can I say? The Returned is creepy, dark, intelligent, deliberately paced series that is so compulsively watchable it’s bound to become your next TV obsession.
The Returned can be found on Sundance OnDemand, Amazon Video or Blu-ray/DVD on February 11. I can’t recommend enough seeking out this version before ABC’s version comes out in March entitled Resurrection. I can’t see ABC even coming close to delivering what The Returned was able to achieve so don’t miss out on this remarkable gem. It defies expectations while rethinking what a series about the undead can be.
Check out the trailer:
Have you seen The Returned? Well, what did you think?
21 thoughts on “The Returned (Les Revenants) – Your next TV obsession”
I’ve only heard about it due to the fact that the music is by Mogwai whose discography I downloaded a few days ago as well as their new album. I’ve been disappointed by the Sundance Channel due to the fact that they put commercials into the movies they show.
Yeah the commercials suck, don’t they? Same with IFC. Oh well. I was able to watch the series w/o commercials which was a big plus.
IFC used to be cool in the films they showed but now they showed too many bad comedies and mainstream movies I don’t care about.
This was on Channel 4 in the UK a while back, and I’ll be honest, I struggled with it a bit. The pace is extremely slow, and whilst I usually have a lot of patience, I gave up after about three episodes. However, you say it gets better past the first few episodes, and having heard so many other good things about it, I probably should give it another chance. Nice write up, agree that it’s a beautiful looking show.
Give it a chance. I really like that it maintains tension through its pacing and builds to an interesting cliffhanger. Some of my favorite movie could be tabbed as extremely slow. Sling Blade, Tender Mercies, The Straight Story, Jim Jarmusch’s early stuff and even Tarkovsky’s very deliberately paced Stalker.
FYI… Sundance is doing a marathon of “The Returned” on February 23rd, starting at noon (ET).
Good catch Rob but like Ninvoid99 said above… unfortunately Sundance = tension killing commercials. 😦
Loved this show; a real slow burner that rewarded patience and built to a very satisfying conclusion. Roll on season two!
Can’t believe I have to wait until late 2014 for it!
I’m not a big television guy but this looks really interesting. I just might have to check it out. Nice write-up!
Don’t think of it as television Keith. Think of it as an 8 hour movie… that if you’re lucky enough to find it w/o commercials.
I remember seeing a preview of this show a while back but I don’t have The Sundance Channel but will seek it online. And thanks for a non-spoiler review Dave! I’m looking forward to watching this show.
When I saw this I thought of you as you were not impressed (neither was I) with The Walking Dead. I just didn’t feel a connection to those characters as I did with The Returned. Who knows what have become if Darabont stayed on past season 1.
I’d be curious to know what you think of the show.
Thought this was an excellent series when it aired some time last year over here. But the ending frustrated me. Just a little bit. But the episodes, story and character that preceded it was a brilliant bit of TV. Proper drama with supernatural elements where the characters were at the core of it rather than it just being about their situation.
I have zero hopes for ABC’s version of this. I think it’s going to be absolutely dire.
Yeah I can’t see how ABC can even come close to doing what they did. I wonder what the UK version, They Came Back, is going to be like?
I watched the series last year when it was on over here in the UK on Channel 4. It is so bizarre, but you always want to know more. The episodes are so laid back but full of drama at the same time. We really enjoyed it and desperate for more happenings at Le Lake Pub!!
Yeah the show is just so unique. It’s like nothing we have over here on US TV. The only thing I could compare it to was Twin Peaks.
I’m yet to watch this series. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about it, though Robin Campillos’ film of the same-name (though in English named “They Came Back”) from which the series is inspired bolsters my confidence for it just enough.
Good work Dave. The mention of Twin Peaks, David Lynch, Prince of darkness and Mogwai all in the one post is enough to peek my interest. I actually have this ready to watch but haven’t quite found the time yet.
I think you’ll really like it Mark. It’s such a contrast to The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later. Some people call the show slow while I prefer deliberately paced. The pace is really crucial to the building of tension and sense of dread IMHO. Twin Peaks, David Lynch, Prince of darkness and Mogwai are also right up my alley. I can’t say enough about how the show personally blew me away
Here’s a brilliant fan made trailer:that really shows off the beautifully dark cinematography if you’re interested:The vivid reds, blues and greens really pop against all the blackness.