Weekly Review: The Returned (Season 1)

One day, during a power outage, people start returning to their small town. The problem? Most of them have been dead for years.

This review will talk about the first season of A&E’s The Returned, an attempted remake of a French show of the same name.

For the longest time, I put off watching this show. I had been watching the ABC show Resurrection, which had a similar concept, so I wasn’t looking to start The Returned. When it became available on Netflix, I figured I’d give it a try, and I’m so glad that I did.

Where I felt that the ABC series Resurrection failed, was making the plot too broad. So many people came back all at once, and it became the talk of the town so quickly that the plot diverged into discrimination and paranoia territory too quickly. The series was cancelled before going into anti-christ territory, and I was relieved, despite my love for Omar Epps.

I was very pleased to see that The Returned did not follow this pattern. This series keeps the phenomenon very small scale. It’s mostly a secret that people are coming back from the dead until the last few episodes of the season, and the fact that people are coming back from the dead isn’t the only interesting plot point. There are several characters that are evil to varying degrees, and other characters that fear they’re evil even if they don’t realize it. Parents regain a lost child. A young woman sees her fiancé for the first time since he died on their wedding day. A serial killer returns to the town. There’s something for everybody.

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I will give a word of caution. The Returned was reportedly cancelled by A&E, so it never got a chance to expand on its twists and turns in a second season. It would seem the writers didn’t have notice either because the season ends on a bit of a cliff hanger. I won’t lie. I’m extremely disappointed. It’s a short season of 10 episodes, and I was hooked very early on. When the season ended, I found myself gawking at the screen, unable to comprehend that I wasn’t going to see anymore.

It’s a very well done show. Despite the abrupt end, I would recommend it. I think it explored the concept really well. I haven’t had the chance to see any of the French show, so I’m unable to comment on how they compare. I’m sure it’s probably a superior show.

One face I was both pleased and surprised to see in The Returned is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Rowan. I thought she did great as always. Other notable people include Mark Pellegrino, who plays Jack, Sandrine Holt, who plays Julie, and Agnes Bruckner, who plays Nikki. There may be some other faces that you may recognize, but these were the actors that stuck out to me.

There were some elements that grew stale for me throughout the season, namely the angst between the teenage sisters. You’ll grow to hate certain characters and really enjoy others. I had my rankings of who I thought was most evil. I thought it was a good time.

This is probably not a show to watch with the kids. There are many sex scenes scattered throughout the season, and there are also some scenes of violence and murder. Some of the themes are pretty dark. I mean, it is a show about people returning from the dead, and that entails a lot of details about death itself. I found it thought provoking.

Overall, the English remake of The Returned has some pretty positive reviews online. I’ve heard the original is superior, but usually that is the case. I can’t vouch for it because I haven’t seen the original. It would be nice if the show was picked up by another network so it could finish some of the plot lines it started, but that is highly unlikely. I’ll just have to stick with the one season I was given.

 

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