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In the Flesh series one

June 28, 2013

InTheFleshBBC America just finished up this series, well actually finished it up just before I went on vacation for a week, so it’s really just me who finished watching it. I guess this would be a good time to apologize for my reduced blog output. We do a big family vacation every year when we go out to the Origins Game Fair. For those unfamiliar with Origins, it’s the second largest table top game convention in the US (second only to Gen Con which was originally more of a roleplaying game focused convention). As you can imagine, this vacation really screwed up my tv viewing schedule and, as the old joke goes, I find myself needing a vacation from the vacation to get back on track. So, about In the Flesh.

The background for the series, as I’ve said before, is an idea I always thought was a cool one since I first heard it mentioned by George Romero. A “zombie apocalypse” event called The Rising happened about five years ago, if I remember correctly. Society managed to contain the situation without completely collapsing and now has developed a way to treat the reanimated dead folks via a drug that helps restore their cognitive brain functions. This allows them to be returned to society but the question rapidly becomes is society ready for this given the obvious anger the survivors will have towards the rehabilitated dead folks. They are actually called victims of Partially Deceased Syndrome or PDS for short but, the term Rotter that was coined during The Rising seems to be more popularly used. To compound things even further, the story is set in the rural town of Roarton which is also where a civilian militia group called the Human Volunteer Force (HVF) originated to help contain The Rising when the British government’s resources proved inadequate to do so on their own. This post zombie apocalypse idea isn’t totally new given films like 28 Weeks Later or the Australian film Undead but, In the Flesh examines the concept on a much deeper level.

The show very much focuses on the impact of The Rising on a very human level. A family with the last name Walker, which I’m going to guess is a nod to The Walking Dead, picks up their son Kieren from a PDS recovery center to bring him back home. Given the HVF is still a very active force in the area they are initially forced to keep him hidden in the house at all times. His sister Jem, who was very actively involved in the HVF is also less than thrilled with the return of her older brother who she is actually older than now, given that the dead folks stop at aging at the time of their death.

While the show obviously focuses on the difficulty in transitioning the local community’s opinions on the PDS sufferers it’s really more of a story about second chances. This applies to the human survivors as much, if not more so, than the PDS people. Each of the characters that the series looks at has their own unique answer with regards to what you do when given a unique opportunity to either return from the dead or interact with someone close to them who has. In the Flesh doesn’t pull many punches in this regard and, as a result, is a show intended for a much more mature audience than one would expect. The final episode, in particular, bears a warning label and, given the nature of Kierne’s death, delves into subject matters that certainly justify the warning.

In the Flesh does leave a couple of unresolved story lines but, this is perfect fodder for a second series. Fortunately, a second series has been commissioned by the BBC with twice the number of episodes. The show is in a somewhat odd situation on a genre level in that people who are not all that interested in the whole zombie fad that seems to be sweeping popular media at the moment may actually get more out of In the Flesh than some hard core zombie fans do. This is what really made the show for me and, is why I would seriously recommend that genre tv fans of the non-zombie as well as zombie variety give it a look.

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