The Returned

review the returned

Zombies have been the bread ‘n’ butter monster for direct to DVD horror movies for the past several years in part because they’re cheap to “create” and there’s a generally accepted fear of being swarmed by a mob intent on eating your insides. A potentially greater fear is often left unexplored though in the more emotionally-based terror of losing a loved one to the chaos only to see them return to nibble on your fleshy bits. The Returned takes this idea, blows it up a bit, and then does something fairly surprising. It decides not to be a zombie horror movie at all. The viral outbreak that led to a zombie apocalypse has come and gone, and society is trying to move forward. A cure of sorts was discovered that brings the recently infected back to normal, but the injections are needed on a daily basis. If one shot is missed, the returned (as they are labeled) fall prey to the infection permanently and become card-carrying zombies, and no amount of the drug will change that. So it’s a bit of bad news for everyone when the drug supply runs empty.

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2013review_tvshows

According to the kind of people who are prone to make such pronouncements, the Golden Age of Television ended this year with the series finale of Breaking Bad. But with more quality television on the air today than is humanly possible to watch, I don’t see how that could possibly be true.  The one big observation about the TV landscape this year that I’d like to make is that there finally seems to be a preponderance of shows about women, a much-needed correction to the masculinity-obsessed, anti-hero shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. I love and admire all of those shows, but I’m glad to see that the new opportunities for original programming that the proliferation of cable and now Netflix and Amazon offers has resulted in more stories about women. Without further ado, my picks for the 13 best shows of 2013:

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The Returned

Halloween is one of my least favorite times as a critic. I generally don’t care for horror films or TV series that scare for scariness’ sake; I’ve never really felt the desire to watch a bunch of teenagers get slaughtered for no reason in increasingly fucked up ways. Moreover, I’m laughably easy to frighten, and paranoid to boot, so a particular image or fear might give me the chills from here to eternity. True Confession: the sight of the Scream mask still gets my heart racing after all these years.  That’s why I so greatly enjoyed the Sundance Channel’s The Returned; it feels like a work of horror made for people like me. Premiering on Halloween at 9 PM and airing every Thursday night at the same time thereafter, the eight-episode import from France is more creepy than scary (think the resurrected undead, not blood and guts), and boasts considerable emotional complexity and visual beauty to boot.

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