Television Reviews

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Resurrection Clings to Life

<i>Resurrection</i> Clings to Life

“It’s a show where people come back from the dead, but not as zombies!” 

That’s how a friend introduced ABC’s latest drama,Resurrection, and it’s been more or less an accurate summation. Though zombie mania has never reached the fever-pitch of vampires or werewolves, the undead have still found a place for themselves in outlets like Warm Bodies, World War Z, and The Walking Dead.

But Resurrection is altogether different. Here the risen dead are whole, thinking, human beings with no appetite for brains and no idea how they have returned. Full of ethereal scenes and heart-wrenching reunions, the showtempts it’s viewers with a single question: “What would you do if someone you loved came back from the dead?”          

It all begins in rural China, where a mysterious eight-year-old boy is found wandering through a rice field. American immigration agent J. Martin Bellamy (House’s Omar Epps) is assigned to return the boy to the United States and place him into Foster Care, but after some gentle coaxing, learns he may have family in Arcadia, Missouri. Upon entering the small town, Bellamy discovers that his passenger is allegedly Jacob Langston, a child who drowned 32 years ago. Though friends and relatives are initially skeptical of boy’s identity, the evidence continues to mount in his favor. Moreover, it’s revealed that the circumstances surrounding Jacobs’s death may not be as innocent as they appeared, or that Jacob was the only person resurrected.                  

From the beginning it becomes clear that Resurrection is playing the long game. Taking a page from the Lost playbook, the show scatters just enough breadcrumbs to keep viewers interested while never truly answering their questions. This tactic could work, or it could blow up in ABC’s face. It’s hard to say, because the story so far has been abysmally slow, and it doesn’t look like it will be picking up anytime soon. At this rate, Resurrection will lose all but the most dedicated viewers. 

Still, the show does have its moments. The scenes where characters reunite with their lost loved ones are powerful and touching. They’re also handled with a great deal of originality. Some characters are suspicious, scared, or confused, refusing to believe this is the person they once knew, while others embrace them with open hearts, ignoring the impossibility out of sheer joy. Performances like these help make Resurrection engaging, and may keep it alive for another season.                   

Christian audiences will no doubt be drawn by the series’ theme, and faith does play a large part in the current storyline. One character (a pastor played by Mark Hildreth) is shown to struggle with the events surrounding Jacob, and his doubt ultimately leads to a powerful speech about God and the nature of human understanding. Many characters also talk about being given second chances, which could be taken for a veiled reference to grace. Though it’s still uncertain whether the deceased have returned by any spiritual power, it’s nice to see a positive portrayal of Christian ideals in modern television. One can hope the writers will make it a core staple of the series.         

Resurrection is an interesting show with an interesting concept, but whether that concept can sustain multiple episodes remains to be seen. For now, it’s worth a casual glance, if only to ponder the questions it delivers.

*Published 3/24/2014

**Watch Resurrection Sundays on ABC