Tuesday 20 August 2013

I got around to watching the final episode of Channel 4’s French-people-not-being-dead-anymore drama The Returned this evening (ce soir).

Because I am coof I watch things after they have been on, using storage devices, iTunes and iPlayer etc. This means I avoid reading about things during the time period in which they are broadcast. When I eventually get around to watching them I get to go back and look at what people wrote about them without having plots ruined for me. Are we on the same page? To all intents and purposes I live my TV watching life anywhere between 5 days and 15 months after broadcaster/hipsters say I should – for a good 30% of my serial viewing.

After completing the asking-more-questions-than-answering-previously-asked-questions series finale of The Returned I immediately went to The Guardian’s weekly review of The Returned so I could see what I think about what other people thought about the series’ ending. While looking at this I caught the list of articles – each accompanied with a strapline.

For episode 7 the strapline was ‘Things have taken a distinctly supernatural turn’. Without giving anything away beyond the premise: The Returned is about this French village where over a week-or-so some dead people appear back in the lives of their families/friends. They’re not really zombies – they look and talk and act like the people who existed until they died. They look like people. But they’re dead. Putting the UNDEAD in the definition of zombie without the brainless wandering of your average TV or film zombie.

But. It’s about dead people coming back to life. That can’t take a supernatural turn – distinctly or otherwise.

But let’s not let a sub-editor at The Guardian cast a shadow over this French slice of TV genius. It was very, very, very good (trés trés trés bien). If there was a downside it was that it made me think Mogwai are OK (they did the soundtrack) and I always thought I would end up never thinking Mogwai are OK.

In summary: if you’ve currently never thought that Mogwai were OK and want to carry on never having thought Mogwai were OK then I wouldn’t watch The Returned. But if you really like well-paced drama with a liberal sprinkling of a distinctly supernatural element* – and don’t mind having to alter your opinion of the band Mogwai – then give The Returned a go. If you already like Mogwai and definitely like well-paced drama with a liberal sprinkling of a distinctly supernatural element* then definitely give it a go. If you already like Mogwai but don’t like well-paced drama with a liberal sprinkling of a distinctly supernatural element* then give it a miss. That’s my advice.

*Where the supernatural element was so distinct that it couldn’t turn supernatural.

Footnote: I bought the soundtrack to The Returned by Mogwai minutes after watching the last episode. I’ll be surprised if I ever listen to it all the way through.

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