Les Revenants (The Returned): Season 1

There were a number of points that I really should have given up on this series. 5 minutes into the pilot would have been a good quitting point, because frankly the title sequence and music were by far the high water mark (pardon the pun) of the series.

Another good quitting moment would have been about 1/2 way through the pilot when I realised that I was going to have to rewind because I’d been distracted and hence failed to read any of the subtitles in the previous ten minutes. Usually shows with subtitles engross me, forcing me to pay attention instead of reading twitter or doing crosswords. This one however had an abundance of extraordinarily long silences which allowed attention to wonder. The whole thing just moved so glacially slowly I found it nigh on impossible to stay focussed.

Or I could have given up after the second episode when I resorted to reading the Guardian blog to see if I was missing something. After 5 minutes reading I concluded that I’d missed huge amounts of content while staring into the depths of my tea mug, after ten minutes I concluded that actually the forum posters were all so desperate to find something worth watching, they were just over-analysing every minutia until they found something to talk about. Huge debate was going in to the fact that the Returned were always hungry (I’d just written that off that the characters had taken a long walk to get home) or didn’t sleep (which I’d assumed was due to some amount of anxiety about the whole back from the dead thing).

Another surrender opportunity was about five minutes into episode 6 when it seemed like suddenly everyone knew about the undead and accepted their presence with at most some references to nice biblical passages. I came very close to re-watching the previous episode just to double check I hadn’t dozed off and missed the scene where everyone got all their questions out of the way and exhausted every other possible explanation, or at least sat gibbering for 10 minutes and called the media, Vatican, army, Red Cross or someone from the local asylum. But then given the town doesn’t seem to have any press, doctors or government, maybe they’ve actually been cut off from the rest of the world for decades and no one thought to mention it.

Next quitting point was after the penultimate episode when I stumbled across the information that Les Revenants isn’t a mini-series but would return for a second season. It felt daft to quit so close to the end though, so I soldiered on. It was actually a bit of a blessing to discover that just before the end because it meant that I was neither surprised nor overly fussed at the complete and utter lack of resolution on ANY of the stories. I don’t think there was a single plot thread or character that was given a solid conclusion. I’m never really a fan of the “draw your own conclusions” school of writing, if I were any good at that I would be the one writing the bloody thing in the first place, rather than just criticising everyone else.

One thing’s for absolute certain though, this is where I stop. There is no way in this life or the next that I could be dragged back to watch the second season. There’s drying paint out there somewhere that needs watching; the soundtrack may not be as good, but it’ll be over faster, it’s got more potential for excitement and at the very least, I can do a crossword without missing the subtitles.

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  1. August 21st, 2013
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