Tag Archives: In the Flesh

In the Flesh, season 2

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The first season of In the Flesh was very good, but also very bleak. As bleak as its setting in a lonely North England town. It drew some fairly obvious allegories, using the zombies Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers as stand-ins for homosexuals, religious and racial minorities, immigrants, HIV/AIDS sufferers, and any other group that can most easily be trodden upon by the heartless masses.

I really grew to like Kieren and Amy, who have a pretty adorable friendship. The terrible prejudices and actions of the citizens of Roarton were really difficult to watch. Excruciating, in some cases, because of how easy it is to relate the way the PDS are treated to the way gay people are still treated, and the fact that some of them are attacked. Sometimes by family. In 2014, for fuck’s sake.

The second series is longer (6 episodes, rather than 3), and uses a different sort of allegory.  A new political group, Victus, has been winning seats at Parliament by campaigning with aggressive anti-PDS policies. They (like most far right parties) are channeling people’s fears to enact policies that restrict and control the PDS population. In Roarton, a new MP from Victus shows up, Maxine Martin.

in_the_flesh_wunmiSoon, she has put a system in place to invalidate the passports of all PDS persons. Kieren discovers this when he tries to leave town, to head to Paris and to live a life where he is not completely surrounded by people who hate him and his kind. In order to ‘earn’ his passport back, he has to work to ‘give back’. All the PDS people have to do a certain amount of community service in order to make up for some of the damage they wrought. But as time goes on, it becomes clearer that this is not a system that they can really get out of. The ‘community service’ is mandatory, and they shift the guidelines at a whim. You can draw obvious parallels to concentration camps and internment camps and no-fly lists and ‘random’ inspections of people of color, or anyone with Muhammad in their name. Also to immigrant populations, vilified and contained, mistrusted by the generally douchy public.

The overarching story of the season is the fabled ‘second rising’. There are a few schools of thought on how it may come about, and whether it should come about.  The Undead Liberation Army and its creepy prophet is trying to bring about the second rising. Enter ULA member, Simon. He’s Irish, and he’s all in for the ULA movement. Amy has a crush on him, but in typical Amy fashion, he turns out to be more attracted to Kieren. Que sera, sera.

Simon helps Kieren start to accept who he is–going out without the ‘mousse’ and the contact lenses, looking like the undead person he is. His family hates this, and sees it as such a radical move that he may need to be sent back to a treatment facility to be re-brainwashed.

The second rising can only happen with the help of the first risen. The actual first person that came up from the ground.  Simon thinks this is Kieren. But it’s not.

Amy, once she gets over the fact that Simon isn’t straight, turns her attention back to Philip. She’s going through some stuff–she has tremors sometimes, and occasionally forgets that she’s dead and tries to eat something. Things are changing for her and she’s not sure if that means she’ll turn back into a ‘rabid’ or what. Scary stuff.  The good news is that as soon as she reaches out to Philip, he immediately stops being incredibly creepy and pathetic, and starts to be a little bit adorable.

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In typical Roarton fashion, that doesn’t last long.

It’s a very bleak show, but I actually really enjoy it. The whole zombie thing is such an easy stand-in for so many awful social issues in history and in the modern day. I’m hoping it gets a third season/series, because I still want to see what happens next. It did not end on a resolution, but a cliffhanger. I don’t mind a cliffhanger when the show has definitely been renewed, but I get pretty annoyed when I watch a cliffhanger and then have to accept the fact that I’ll never get to see what happens next. There should be some sort of post-season special. Whenever a show is cancelled after a cliffhanger, they should shoot one more episode to wrap it up. If you are reading this and you work in TV, make this shit happen.

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Upcoming British TV

It’s that time of year again!  Time for Christmas specials, followed closely by new premieres in 2014!  We’ve got a lot to look forward to in the coming months.

First, there is the Christmas special for Doctor Who

Doctor Who, Christmas Special 2013 - Artwork: Jenna-Louise Coleman and Matt SmithThe Time of the Doctor  (Christmas Day in the UK and US) will mark the end of Matt Smith’s run and the beginning of Peter Capaldi as our 12th incarnation of the eponymous Doctor.  As happens every time there is a regeneration, I am dreading it, but know that the new Doctor will win me over pretty quickly.  It happened with 10 and with 11, so I have faith that 12 will be just as good.  Okay, no one is actually as good as David Tennant, but they do try…

The Downton Abbey Christmas special will play on Christmas Day in the UK, but the US will have to wait a few months–we haven’t even aired season 4 yet.  Season 4 premieres on PBS January 5th. So the Christmas Special will air sometime in February or March.  Festive.  I am looking forward to it because we finally get to see Paul Giamatti as Cora’s rakish, financially-irresponsible brother

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I also notice Edith missing from this picture.  I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t seen season 4, but I’ve got a guess where she is…

One week after Christmas is (to me) the most important premiere of the last several years.  Sherlock (series 3) premieres on Jan 1st in the UK, January 19th in the US (again on PBS).

sherlock_series_3_fan_poster_2_by_crqsf-d52873pI’m almost done with my re-watch of the first two series.  I just have the heinously painful, ugly-cry-inducing Reichenbach Fall. And then there will finally be new episodes! There’s rumor of a mini-episode premiering on Christmas Day (on BBC 1) that acts as a sort of prequel to Series 3. (Here’s hoping I can find it online).  The proper episodes run January 1st, 5th, and 12th in the UK.

A boatload of new shows and season premieres are slated for Spring 2014 here in the US.

Fleming-The Man Who Would Be Bond is a BBC America look at Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.  It stars Dominic Cooper as Fleming, and looks like a combination between The Hours and Mad Men.

460x300_flemingThat’s Lara Pulver (aka Irene Adler) as the proto-Bond girl, Ann O’Neill.  I’ll withhold judgment on this one–I’m not a big fan of Bond, but I’ll give it a try. It premieres January 29th.

Despite being (rudely) cancelled after its second series/season in the UK, Ripper Street will get a full second season airing in the US.  I’ve already heard that the ‘finale’ wasn’t very rewarding, because the showrunners didn’t know (or didn’t know early enough) about the show’s fate.  Season 2 premieres on BBC America in February (no fixed date yet, that I’ve seen).

March 30th will be a big day for PBS viewing.  Call the Midwife AND Mr. Selfridge return for their 3rd and 2nd seasons, respectively. Here’s a trailer for Mr. Selfridge:

April 13th sees season 2 of The Bletchley Circle premiere on PBS.  It premieres much earlier (January 6th) in the UK.

Shortly after, on April 19th, Orphan Black finally returns on BBC America.

There are several other shows without announced premiere dates, but we know are coming soon.

The Musketeers–a BBC America show, taking place in 17th century Paris. The (four) Musketeers are all hot young men in this incarnation of the classic story. I’ll give it a try, though I’m not really one to go for men with feathers in their hats. The BBC America website says ‘Coming in 2014’, so this one could be a while.

Similarly, they’re very vague on the dates for a few other shows.  In the Flesh is definitely going to have a second season/series, but all the info they give is ‘Spring 2014’.  I would guess March or April.

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan is already filming season 2, with special guest star and fellow hobbit, Billy Boyd.  No release date for that one either, but I’m guessing late Spring/early Summer, based on my zero expertise.

It’s going to be a busy season of TV watching this Spring!

A new take on the zombie apocalypse: In the Flesh

InTheFleshIn the Flesh premiered on BBC Three in March, and aired over three nights on BBC America this month.  I’ve noticed lately that things which air over three-4 weeks in the UK are crammed into 2-3 nights in the US; not sure why.  This was no exception, but I found it easier to take some time between viewing the first episode and subsequent ones.

In the Flesh envisions a different sort of ending to the traditional trope of the zombie apocalypse.  Though the zombies rise just as you would expect, the government has a different way of dealing with them than you might imagine.  The ‘rotters’ are rounded up by the British government and rehabilitated.  Through group therapy and medicine, Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) sufferers can be reintegrated into society and returned to the homes they occupied before their deaths.  With the help of contact lenses and ‘mousse’ (foundation), they even appear normal.

We follow Kieren Walker, an 18-year-old PDS sufferer who is returning to his parents’ home.  There are just a few problems with his return.  Kieren’s village of Roarton was one of the major centers of the ‘rising’, and the village formed a Human Volunteer Force (HVF) to hunt the ‘rotters’.  Roarton is still a hotbed of hatred toward PDS sufferers, despite a government mandate of peace and acceptance. Kieren’s own sister, Jem, is a proud HVF member and zombie hunter.

The first episode really shows the absolute sense of fear from having Kieren back in the family home.  Not fear of him, fear of the HVF and its leader, Bill.  It reminded me of something you might see in Nazi-occupied Europe, if you were hiding a Jewish person in your attic.  At the end of the first episode, Bill and the HVF show up at a neighbor’s house, drag his elderly PDS wife out into the street and shoot her in the head.  The hatred and anger are unforgivable and unacceptable.

The second episode had a bit more hope in it.  Word gets out that Kieren is back home, but he’s given a reprieve from being shot in the street. Bill’s son, Rick, who was lost during the war in Afghanistan, is coming home.  Rick’s parents have revered him since his absence, so his return as a PDS sufferer is confusing, given Bill’s hatred for ‘rotters’.  Rick was also Kieren’s best friend, and (this is implied but never stated outright) his boyfriend.  Lots of tension between Kieren and Rick, and Rick and Bill, and Bill and Kieren.  Bill combines his hatred of ‘rotters’ with his homophobia to absolutely despise Kieren.  As far as Bill and Rick go, Bill is totally in denial about what his son is, both as a gay man and as a PDS sufferer.  But the rest of the town starts to show a bit more compassion and acceptance.

Kieren meets his old hunting partner, Amy, and has someone with which to share the crazy experiences of being a dead body re-introduced to the human world.  Even Jem, his antagonistic sister, starts to come around.

The third episode gets into more of the meat of the relationships between all of these Roarton characters.  We learn that Kieren killed himself after Rick was killed in Afghanistan.  His parents and his sister were very angry with him, which explains a lot of the tension.  This fact also proves even more tragic later.

Bill is the catalyst for almost all of the action in this last episode.  He is in absolute and complete denial that his son is gay, and that his son is a ‘rotter’.  His response is to get rid of what he sees as the problem: Kieren.  Without Kieren around, he can pretend his son is normal, in every possible meaning of the word.  And the best way to make sure of it is to have Rick do the honors.  Bill tells Rick to eliminate Kieren (and Amy, for good measure).  I think Rick, who clearly has a hard time saying no to his father’s orders, is tempted to do it.  But how could he kill Kieren for the same faults that exist in him as well?  He can’t do it.  He washes off his mousse and takes out his contacts, and shows himself to his father as-is.

Meanwhile, Amy decides to leave town to find a ‘rotter prophet’ living in the woods, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask of some kind.  She’s looking for answers.  She doesn’t have a family anymore, and life in Roarton isn’t turning out to be peaceful.  Kieren sees her off at the train station and then returns home…to find Rick at his doorstep with a knife in his brainstem. Dead for real this time.  Killed by his own father.

Things are rough from that point on, obviously.  Kieren confronts Bill. Bill gets what he deserves, though not at Kieren’s hands.

Let’s take a moment to think about Kieren’s luck. His best mate/boyfriend goes off to Afghanistan and is killed in an explosion. Kieren doesn’t want to live anymore, so he kills himself because of the ensuing depression and grief.  He rises as a zombie (he can’t even kill himself properly!) and commits terrible atrocities, but after medical attention and rehabilitation he is able to return to his family.  Rick returns too…and is killed again.  The feeling of futility has got to be overwhelming at this point.

Kieren returns to the same place where he committed suicide, just to think this time.  His mother comes to retrieve him, and that’s when the story of his suicide comes out.

The whole miniseries features a lot of very grim and taciturn patriarchal figures and their quiet beset-upon wives.  We see Bill and his wife, one meek and victimized by her husband, the other a blustering despot with limited ability to process his own emotions.  We also see Kieren’s family.  His mother shows some emotion, but is still quiet.  His father holds in all of his emotions until the very last scene of the miniseries, when he lets them out in a moment of healing and crying.

This all reminded me of American Beauty, and Bill particularly of Chris Cooper’s character.  So much pain and denial and repression.  Willing to do intense violence to cover up, to keep from acknowledging, the truth. But my only issue with this miniseries is that I think it would be better placed in the ’90s than currently.  The gender politics alone were very traditional, and the ideas about homosexuality are also out-of-date.  Of course, this takes place in the North, somewhere near where Heathcliff and Catherine would have been running around on the moors.  It looks like the type of place where it is just never truly warm.  Windy and cloudy and gray all the time.  I know that the North is, stereotypically, a bit more conservative and less cultured than the South of England.  Something like how the Midwest is thought of in the US.  But, as someone from the Midwest, I also know that not to be particularly true. Is it (Lancashire) so very traditional that this is a reasonable depiction of a small village near Blackpool?  Maybe.  There are places like that in the US, small towns where homosexuality and atheism and being a democrat are unheard of, not talked about, absolute Sins with a capital S.  It’s definitely possible.

I thought this miniseries was pretty good, actually.  Lots of complex ideas and unavoidable tension.  The actor who played Kieren could be a little stiff, a little numb, but how perfect is that for someone playing a partially-dead person?  Anyway, everyone’s emotions were so repressed and covered, that it worked quite well.  My only issue was that the ending was very open, almost not like an ending at all.  I hope that will be resolved when the series comes back for another 4-6 episodes in 2014.

Summer British TV

Summer and Winter seem to be when the best of the British channels finally hits our shores. This summer is no exception. Just because Doctor Who is over, and Downton Abbey is months away, don’t despair! There are a lot of premieres in Summer and early fall. Starting in chronological order:

Family Trees

Family TreeChris O’Dowd’s new show on HBO started last month, and I have really enjoyed it so far! It’ll be running every Sunday through early July. Chris plays Tom, a somewhat depressed, slightly pathetic man living in London. His great-aunt dies and leaves him a trunk of family paraphernalia. He gets interested in his history, and goes about tracing his family lineage by finding out more about the objects in the trunk. It’s a very British show, so far, but later Tom does take a trip to the states to find out more about one branch of his family. It’s a hilarious show, very self-effacing and extremely odd. Tom’s sister, uses a monkey puppet to voice all her strangest and most offensive thoughts. She has conversations with this monkey all the time; she goes everywhere with the monkey. Tom also has a best friend, Pete, who is dumb as a post, and his dad is played by the always hilarious Michael McKean (of Clue and Spinal Tap fame). The show relies on awkward and embarrassing moments to make you laugh, which is a theme with British TV I think. Probably because awkward situations are the biggest fear of most English people.

Here’s a trailer (though I must warn you that it plays up the American part of the show far more than has happened in each episode yet):

In the Flesh

In the FleshThis is a miniseries that started June 6th. I’m not a zombie person, okay? I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but that’s about it. Okay, I’ve seen Zombieland. And 28 Days Later. And Shaun of the Dead…okay I’ve consumed more zombie books/movies than I thought. Still, it’s not a concept I’m particularly attracted to. On the other hand, this is only a 3-part miniseries, so I might as well give it a try. It aired in the UK and March, to generally positive reviews. These zombies are presented as a socially-marginalized minority, have been diagnosed with PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome), and have been rehabilitated with medication and cosmetics. It sounds vaguely like True Blood‘s approach to vampires. At least In the Flesh won’t be just another scary movie a la Dawn of the Dead. I’m willing to give it a try. My only qualm is that I’m not very good with gore. Even in comedy films like Shaun of the Dead, I’m horrified by the sights and sounds associated with…zombies eating human flesh. Particularly while said human is alive. But it’s on BBC America, so it can’t be too bad. Here’s the trailer:

On June 23rd, the second season of Copper premieres.

Copper trioI was on the fence about this show throughout the first season. The three characters I liked (conveniently pictured above) are all coming back, so I’m going to give it a try (new motto for me?). This show always seems to be on the edge, teetering on the precipice of me not wanting to watch it anymore. I dislike the violence and blatant corruption, but I like the fact that it is set in the 19th century, and I think it always has potential to be a really great show. I’m hoping this year, now that it is a bit more established, it will reach that potential. Here is the trailer:

Also, on June 30th, the twentieth season of Top Gear premieres in the UK. No word yet on BBC America’s air dates, but last season they were only about a week behind, so hopefully more info will be forthcoming.

In early July, PBS will begin airing Endeavour, a prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse detective series. I’ve only seen one or two episodes of Inspector Morse, so this wasn’t on the top of my Must-See list. But, I had second thoughts when I saw who they cast as Morse:

EndeavourAdd to the obvious appeal of…whoever this guy is…it’s still set in Oxford. Oxford is so picturesque, and so quintessentially English (it’s what we think of in America when we think of an English village) that I could watch just about anything that takes place there. Plus, I have a certain weakness for incredibly smart, rail-thin detectives, even when they are not played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s only 4 or 5 episodes, so I’m going to go ahead and watch. I hope not much will be lost on me for not having followed the original series closely. Trailer is here:

The same night Endeavour premieres, the biggest thing since sliced bread is set to hit BBC America.

BroadchurchDavid Tennant stars in Broadchurch and uses his Scottish accent, which is my favorite thing in the world. This show was a huge hit in the UK this Spring, and I’ve been waiting anxiously for it since. A second series has already been announced.

It’s a whodunnit murder mystery set on the Dorset coast. In addition to Tennant, Olivia Colman co-starred and co-produced the show, and Arthur Darvill (Rory!) also co-stars. This is at the top of my Must-See List, FYI. Trailer:

Since I will be thoroughly busy watching all of these shows, I’m glad there is a bit of a break before more begin. The next one starts August 18th. It’s called The Lady Vanishes.

The Lady VanishesPBS is airing this remake of a Hitchcock thriller about a woman who goes missing, and another who tries to alert authorities about the incidence, but is not taken seriously. Listen, I tend to think any remake of a Hitchcock film is just a terrible idea. Are they going to improve on his direction? No. Is the addition of color going to add more suspense and creepiness? No. Are there modern actresses/actors who could play these roles better than the likes of Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart? Hell no. But, this actually got pretty good reviews, so I’m going to watch and keep an open mind. I’ve never seen the original, so that should help. Trailer:

At the end of August, PBS is also airing Silk, a legal drama. Prepare your powdered wigs, we’re off to the Old Bailey!

SilkI don’t have a lot of info on this one, partially because the title is very hard to Google well. Apparently it deals with two rival barristers. PBS is airing it in 3 two-hour increments from August 25th-September 8th. Bonus-it features Rupert Penry-Jones, of Whitechapel. Less of a bonus–his character looks like a d-bag, judging by the trailer:

Next, starting September 3rd, the all important Idris Elba returns to my life on BBC America.

luther series 3You gorgeous man, you.

There’s not a proper trailer for this one yet (that I could find), but they made an ‘announcement trailer’

Judging by this video, I’m guessing the episodes for the new season will disturb me just as much (if not more) than the last two seasons. Don’t care. Idris Elba calls, and I must answer.

Last, but not least:

The ParadisePBS is airing this one on October 6th, and calling it The Paradise. It’s an adaptation of an Emile Zola novel, and was sort of squared off against Mr. Selfridge when it aired in the UK, because of the similar subject matter. The show revolves around the first department store in NE England. It looks a little more soapy to me, based on the trailer. But I plan to watch and compare. Bonus–Arthur Darvill is also in this one (briefly).

Beyond here, there be trailers:

I’m going to be a busy blogger over the next 3 or 4 months. Yay!