Pilots and Premieres: “Resurrection” – Series Premiere

Who:  “Resurrection,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, Sundays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Resurrection,” a fantasy drama in which long-deceased individuals find themselves alive again in the small town of Arcadia, Missouri, and watch as their families adjust to this news and, in some cases, try to solve the mystery of how these people received literally new leases on life.

When: The series premiered on ABC, Sunday, March 9, 2014, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in a small town, specifically Arcadia, Missouri.

Why: The premise for the show was fairly interesting, since some of the revived characters have been dead for decades.  It’s also executive produced by Brad Pitt, among others, and happens to fall in a time slot between Once Upon a Time and Revenge, both of which I watch.  Plus, Red Foreman (i.e. Kurtwood Smith) and Rose’s mean mother from Titanic (i.e. Frances Fisher) are two of the featured performers.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

Resurrection = ****

SYNOPSIS

J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), an INS agent, is sent to recover a small boy who has been discovered in a rural province in China.  He is clearly American, has no idea where he is or how he got there, and won’t talk to anyone, though he woke up in marshlands, confused and scared.  After he is shipped back to the US, Martin is able to coax the child into revealing his origins: a small town in Missouri called Arcadia.  In fact, Jacob is able to point out his house.  Martin knocks on the door of Henry and Lucille Langston’s home (Smith/Fisher) to reveal that their son has been found, but they react with disbelief: after all, according to the grief-stricken couple, Jacob has been dead for 32 years, believed to be drowned in a nearby river.  When Lucille espies the perfect carbon copy of her boy in the backseat of Martin’s car, who has not aged a day, she reacts with caution and elation all at once, while her husband recoils in fear and suspicion.  What’s more, Martin is reluctant to turn the boy over to federal custody upon the discovery of this information and convinces his boss to allow him to monitor Jacob and Arcadia, as other long deceased persons start to reappear. Martin, along with key members of the small Missouri town, work together to try to ascertain why this might be happening, while affected loved ones react with a veritable gamut of emotions, ranging from pure joy to unadulterated fear and suspicion at the return of the resurrected.

THOUGHTS

Resurrection, as a program, has undertaken a powerful concept.  The way the story is currently being meted out, (this viewer is four episodes in; four episodes have aired) in its carefully plotted and mysterious manner, makes for some fairly riveting Sunday evening television.  The premise of the story is simple; it asks the question: what would happen if someone you loved, long dead, came back to life, unchanged, unfazed, having part or all of the memory of his/her death?  How would you react?  What would you do?

The biggest question right now, of course, is why this is all happening, and Epps plays the precarious role of “every-viewer,” reacting to these mysteries with deft, believable surprise and inquiry as any member of the viewing audience might.  There is no clear source or reason for the reappearance of some of these long-lost souls.  What is known: the resurrected characters have changed in other ways.  Young Jacob is distant and hollow; a father has resorted to criminal behavior; a wife who committed suicide is suddenly repentant.  Where the show is driving the story is ultimately the biggest draw and attraction to continue watching.

The performances are adequate if not exceptional, with the best being offered by Smith and Fisher, playing diametrically opposed sides of the unique coin presented by the story.  Fisher’s mother, well into her retirement years, is only too happy to accept the reappearance of Jacob, the eight-year-old as he was, seeing the unusual incident as a second chance and a miracle, while Smith’s father is wary, not trusting the strangeness of it all, even as Jacob’s attempts to reconnect with his father soften his stalwart suspicions. Other townsfolk and the actors portraying them offer decent renditions of their character.  For example, Samaire Armstrong plays the daughter of her long-deceased father, only too happy to accept his return and his possible help with the financial troubles plaguing her family, while her younger brother, who has a mental disability, does not trust that their father is who he says he is.  Her performance walks a line of over-the-top to nuanced; perhaps, the instability of her character reads a bit in the actress’ performance, though sometimes, it feels as if she’s pushing the reactions of her character to a place or level that does not feel natural. Perhaps, these choices owe to the episodic directors, but this viewer recalls her feeling similarly “not natural” in her previous role on Dirty Sexy Money.

The biggest flaw of this program right now is its pace.  It is slow and detrimentally so.  Each of the four episodes that have aired to date focus on the reemergence of someone else and how the Arcadia residents related to the newly appeared soul, as well as the town at large, react to him or her being seemingly alive again.  So far, the only details that have been offered about the larger story are that the formerly deceased seem to sense each other, and that they keep cropping up in random parts of the world.  If this show wants to sustain beyond its first season, it will need to rev up either the pace or the rate at which information is shared.  So far, none of the individual stories are as interesting as Jacob and his family; it will be interesting to see how many dead residents reemerge before answers start to flow (or if the show is allowed to get that far).

RECOMMENDATION

Resurrection is a slow-moving family drama with potentially philosophical or fantastic themes that branch into spirituality and the supernatural, insofar as those concepts are mutually exclusive. This viewer believes that a show of this type would be appropriate for family viewing, though it will likely appeal the most to people who enjoyed the Scully-centered episodes of The X-Files, Touched by an Angel, or movies that deal heavily in religious themes.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

TVLine is calling renewal of this program a “safe bet;” it helps that the show is surrounded by hits, with lead-in Once Upon a Time and follow-up Revenge, since the ratings, which have remained largely steady, enjoy a plentiful boost from Once.  While nothing has been made official, this viewer will continue watching until it is, though I can see myself becoming impatient with this program if something doesn’t shake loose as stated above.  For right now, the mystery is enough to keep me tuning in, as I wait for Revenge to come on…

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